EECS Assistant Professor and member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, CSAIL, Scott Aaronson is one of six junior MIT faculty (and one of 118 in total) selected as 2009 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, an award that is intended to enhance the careers of the very best young faculty members in specified fields of science.
As announced in the Feb. 17, 2009 press release, the winners are faculty members at 61 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada who are conducting research at the frontiers of physics, chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics and neuroscience. The fellowships were established in 1955 to provide support and recognition to early-career scientists and scholars, often in their first appointments to university faculties, who were endeavoring to set up laboratories and establish their independent research projects with little or no outside support. Financial assistance at this crucial point, even in modest amounts, often pays handsome dividends later to society.
“The Sloan Research Fellowships support the work of exceptional young researchers early in their academic careers, and often at pivotal stages in their work,” said Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Elizabeth and James Killian (1926) Professor of Economics and Management at MIT. “I am proud of the Foundation’s rich history in providing the resources and flexibility necessary for young researchers to enhance their scholarship, and I look forward to the future achievements of the 2009 Sloan Research Fellows.”
Scott Aaronson's research interests center around the limitations of quantum computers, and computational complexity theory more generally. This has entailed studying quantum computing, the most powerful model of computation available based on known physical theory. Aaronson's work on this area has included limitations of quantum algorithms in the black-box model; algorithms for quantum spatial search and for simulating restricted classes of quantum circuits; the learnability of quantum states; quantum versus classical proofs and advice; and the power of postselected quantum computing and quantum computing with closed timelike curves. He also maintains an active interest in many topics in classical theoretical computer science, including circuit lower bounds, computational learning theory, communication complexity, Bayesian agreement and inference, and the interplay of complexity and rationality.