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New paper out now! "Hardness results for decoding the surface code with Pauli noise"

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The other week I came out with my first paper since starting grad school: Hardness results for decoding the surface code with Pauli noise , with my advisor  Akimasa Miyake . I'm quite excited about this result and want to share a nontechnical summary of the results and their implications. First, some background. Quantum computers work by taking advantage of the ways that the laws of physics at the small scales of atoms and molecules (that is, quantum physics) work differently than the the laws of physics at larger scales that we are all familiar with (that is, classical physics). We know we can use these different laws of physics to store and process information differently than how we do so on regular, "classical" computers. In classical computers, the basic unit of information storage is the bit, which can take the value 0 or 1, and we do computation by flipping bits between 0 and 1 based on the values of other bits. Quantum mechanics allows us to store information in

Ridgewalking in the North Tetons/Owl Creek area

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In the northern reaches of Grand Teton National Park, between Red Mountain and Elk Mountain, lies over 2000 vertical feet of Madison Limestone and an impressive array of karst features visible on the LIDAR. Ever since I became aware of the high quality LIDAR available for the whole park and the impressive potential it suggested for that area several years ago, I had been looking to ridgewalk (caver parlance for ‘walk around looking for caves’) there and see what the karst looks like up close. This August, I finally made it happen. I was in the western Wyoming/southern Idaho area for some other caving, and I took 3 days to do a big solo ridgewalking/backpacking trip to check out the area. Some of the LIDAR features in the area I wanted to check out The first dilemma I had to figure out was how to get to this area. There’s a reason I couldn’t find any accounts of cavers checking the area out—it is very remote and difficult to get to. There were 3 options I considered: From the east side

Prince of Wales Island 2023 caving expedition

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This past week July 8th thru July 15th, I returned to Prince of Wales Island for a week long caving expedition. I was there for a week last summer as part of a Glacier Grotto/US Forest Service expedition to explore and map unexplored caves on the island. This year we were returning to continue exploration of caves we left going last year, and to start exploring new caves in the area. I was most excited to return to Fast and Heavy Cave, a cave on El Cap Peak (several hundred feet from the famous El Cap Pit, the deepest pit in the US) that we first entered and started exploring last year. Last year we made it down several drops to ~270 ft deep and turned around at an open pit taking water and sucking air because we ran out of bolts on the last day of the expedition. I had been thinking about that lead for the entire year since then! What lie beyond that pit? More and bigger shafts descending deeper into the mountain? Miles of borehole taking all the water that seeps into the earth on the