Scott Aaronson | Closer to Truth


Scott Joel Aaronson is a theoretical computer scientist, the David J. Bruton Centennial Professor of Computer Science at The University of Texas at Austin, and director of its Quantum Information Center. Previously, he taught for nine years in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. His research interests center around the capabilities and limits of quantum computers, and computational complexity theory more generally.

Aaronson is one of two winners of the 2012 Alan T. Waterman Award.

He is a founder of the Complexity Zoo wiki, which catalogs all classes of computational complexity.He is the author of the much-read blog as well as the essay "Who Can Name The Bigger Number?" The latter work, widely distributed in academic computer science, uses the concept of Busy Beaver Numbers as described by Tibor Radó to illustrate the limits of computability in a pedagogic environment. He's also taught a graduate-level survey course called Quantum Computing Since Democritus, for which the notes are available online and which is expected to be published as a book by Cambridge University Press. It weaves together seemingly disparate topics into a cohesive whole, including quantum mechanics, complexity, free will, time travel, the anthropic principle and many others. Many of these interdisciplinary applications of computational complexity were later fleshed out in his article "Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity".

An article of Aaronson's, "The Limits of Quantum Computers", was published in Scientific American, and he was a guest speaker at the 2007 Foundational Questions in Science Institute conference. Aaronson is frequently cited in non-academic press, such as Science News, The Age, ZDNet, Slashdot, New Scientist, The New York Times, and Forbes Magazine.