Biography

Scott Joel Aaronson is a theoretical computer scientist and faculty member in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After postdoctorates at the Institute for Advanced Study and the University of Waterloo, he took a faculty position at MIT in 2007. His primary area of research is quantum computing 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.