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Converting Qubits to Bits: Quantum to Classical Information

Dylan Domel-White’s Talk Wins NSM’s Three Minute Thesis Competition

On the highest floor of Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall, Dylan Domel-White studies one-bit phase retrieval problems.

Dylan Domel-White

More specifically, he studies how to convert quantum information, qubits, into “classical” information. That is, information encoded in bits.

The University of Houston Department of Mathematics Ph.D. student explained his work converting qubits to bits is at the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ Three-Minute Thesis Competition – and won.

What interested him in studying phase retrieval more closely was an invitation by mathematics professor Bernhard Bodmann. Domel-White took Bodmann’s class, and the professor invited him to study it before he had even chosen an advisor. Plus, he said, quantum computing is a hot topic.

“That is one direction we are trying to pursue for current research,” said Domel-White. “When I did my three-minute talk, there was a news story about Google having a quantum computer that was better than any other super computers.”

That is known as “quantum supremacy,” when a quantum computer outperforms classical computers.

Domel-White said people have already developed algorithms for quantum computers that are significantly faster than the best algorithms on computers we use every day. They are expected to be the next computing revolution.

However, quantum computers are still an emerging technology. Domel-White stressed that there are many problems to be solved to build a powerful quantum computer.

“In math there’s a difference between writing a code, it working and proving it mathematically,” he said, “and knowing it will always work and the logic behind it.”

Bodmann said when you use a quantum computer, the output is going to be a quantum system. But what he and Domel-White are interested in is translating it to numbers, which is the classical information – encoded in bits.

“I’m always fascinated by contrasting worlds,” Bodmann said. “The world of quantum information is one where states, properties of quantum systems, can change continuously from one point to another … and the digital world, the world that we face in our computers every day, is a world of zeroes and ones where things don’t change continuously.”

Professor Bodmann adds that even though he is Domel-White’s advisor, the young mathematician has taught him.

“As an advisor, you typically lead people,” he said. “In this case, he has given me an incentive to go and look at the places where I would not have naturally looked. I think that’s quite incredible. “

Dylan Domel-White has been studying at UH since he was an undergraduate. He has applied for postdoctoral programs elsewhere, but plans to continue to work with Bodmann, regardless of what school he works for next.

- Rebeca Trejo, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

January 27, 2020