Aaronson promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

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Sunday, May 12, 2013 - 9:45am

Scott Aaron promoted to Associate Professor with tenure

The Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation recently approved awarding tenure to seven School of Engineering faculty members including, Scott J. Aaronson, Associate Professor, effective July 1, 2013. Aaronson, also a principal investigator in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, CSAIL, came to MIT in 2007 following postdoctoral appointments at the Institute of Advanced Study and the University of Waterloo, Ontario.  He obtained his BSc in computer science from Cornell University in 2000 and his PhD at UC Berkeley in 2004.  Aaronson is one of two winners of the 2012 Alan T. Waterman Award.

Scott Aaronson studies quantum computing and computational complexity, asking what problems are efficiently solvable in the physical world.  He is interested both in what computation can tell us about physics, and in what physics can tell us about computation. His work elucidates the relationships between complexity classes and the capabilities and limits of quantum computers.  Aaronson and Avi Widgerson, professor of mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study, have introduced the “algebrization barrier” to explain why many current techniques cannot solve the P versus NP question.  Aaronson and EECS graduate student Alex Arkhipov have proposed a simple linear-optical system, which might be easier to build than a universal quantum computer.  This has already been demonstrated on a small scale providing evidence that it exceeds the capabilities of classical computers.  Aaronson and Paul Christiano, who earned his SB in Mathematics at MIT in 2008, proposed a new scheme for publicly verifiable quantum money in 2009.

As educator, Aaronson teaches classes that have been highly endorsed by students including:  Quantum Complexity Theory, Philosophy and Theoretical Computer Science, and Automata, Computability, and Complexity.  His widely-read blog “Shtetl-Optimized”, has been cited for its content on theoretical computer science (http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog). Aaronson has authored a recently-released book, "Quantum Computing Since Democritus".  He gives many general and technical lectures (including, for example, at the MIT Latke-Hamentaschen Debate, http://web.mit.edu/hillel/www/events/latke.shtml).