the inQlings

From a wide perspective, our research is mainly in the area of quantum information theory, a field jointly formed and contributed by physics, mathematics, and computer science. The goal of the field is to investigate limits on how information can be transmitted and processed when they are encoded in quantum systems. This often arises to new ways of computation or communication that manipulate quantum effects like entanglement, often providing advantages when compared to current methods. Given the generic nature of the field, quantum information theory can often be used as a toolkit to study other interesting problems, such as thermodynamics, holography and even black holes!


Quantum Thermodynamics


Thermodynamics is one of the main pillars of theoretical physics, and it has a special appeal of having wide applicability to a large variety of different physical systems. However, many assumptions in thermodynamics apply only to systems which are bulk material, i.e. consisting a large number of microscopic classical particles. Due to the advancement of designing nanoscale engines, especially in the light of devices that are used today in the processing of quantum information, is thermodynamics still applicable? Can we refine the core principles of thermodynamics to suit such nanoscale quantum systems as well?

I worked on developing a theory of thermodynamics that is suitable for nanoscale quantum systems, even those as small and simple as a single qubit. One of my favourite approaches is the resource theoretic framework inspired by quantum information theory. With this framework that naturally adopts the first law as an energy preserving condition, we can show the refinement of both the zeroeth and second law of thermodynamics. Most notably, the second law sees refinement in the quantum nanoregime: a family of generalized free energies arise  as necessary conditions for a transition to occur. One can then utilize these laws in order to study heat engine efficiencies in the quantum regime!

After mastering the resource-theoretic approach towards quantum thermodynamics, I became increasingly curious about its relations to other frameworks such as fluctuation theorems and master equations. During my postdoc years, I started working on applications of quantum thermodynamics in the study of many-body physics, approching topics such as many-body localization and cooling of BEC quasi-condensates in the nanoKelvin temperature regime. My fascination with these subject just continues to grow :)

Quantum Information and Cryptography


Quantum information science has offered a new set of perspectives on computing, by invoking fundamental laws of quantum physics to develop more sophisticated algorithms for problem solving. However, these new discoveries pose a threat to the security of a large class of currently existing cryptographic protocols, which rely crucially on the conjectured computational complexity of certain mathematical problems. Therefore, these challenges require us to revise current methods of cryptography. Fortunately, what threatens us also potentially liberates us: by making use of quantum methods to transmit and process information, one can devise new protocols that achieve higher levels of security, without relying on computational assumptions. The best known example is quantum key distribution (QKD), where two honest parties work together to generate a secure key which stays shielded from any potential eavesdropper.

Apart from QKD, a large class of different protocols called two-party cryptographic protocols have also been studied. These are protocols that do not involve a third eavesdropper, however, they consist of two distinct players  who are unwilling to trust each other, but nevertheless want to jointly perform a task. I study the performance of such two party quantum protocols (such as bit commitment and oblivious transfer) under physical assumptions where each party has a limited amount/quality of quantum storage.

During my PhD years I've had the pleasure to work with Stephanie Wehner and Thomas Vidick to produce lecture notes for their MOOC class on quantum cryptography. Check out the course on Edx!

The entropic framework is one of the most versatile tools I've learnt in my dabbling with cryptography: not only is the mathematical structure fascinating, but due to their operational significance in generic information processing tasks, they can be widely applicable in many other aspects (such as thermodynamics!). 

The meaning of in.Q


in.Q officially stands for information & quantum.

It also stands for the spirit of scientific "inquiry", which is the curious wonder as we go about understanding the world.

Group members are called the inQlings, reminiscent of a literary group that gave us writers like Tolkien and Lewis.