Petition for the Creation of a Topical Group on Quantum Information, Concepts, and Computation (Quicc)

New York, April 10,2002

Dear Sirs:

We believe that the interests of the membership of the American Physical Society would be better served if there existed a separate topical group whose primary interest was in the fundamental problems of quantum theory as such, and its special areas of interest, such as entangled states, and quantum information, including quantum cryptography, and quantum computing (Quicc). Since the earliest days of quantum theory, questions concerning its interpretation have arisen, but it was long thought that there were no experimental ramifications of the debates that ensued, and the subject was relegated to the sidelines. However the situation has changed drastically over the last thirty years. In 1964, John Bell showed that it was possible to experimentally distinguish between the predictions of quantum mechanics and those of local classically realistic theories, and this started a race to produce experiments that could make such distinctions.

Over the years, new experimental and theoretical techniques have been developed that place many of the results of the field squarely within the mainstream interests of the modem physics community. Some of these techniques include the development of the neutron interferometer; parametric down-conversion as a method for producing entangled two-photon states; the long-term trapping of ions; the interference of atoms scattered off "photonic" crystals; the creation of two-dimensional quantum systems; the recent achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation; the development of cavity QED; and the demonstration of quantum teleportation, amongst other experimental achievements. On the theoretical side, we have, as an outgrowth of Bell's theorem, the constantly improving classification of entangled states, and the development of measures of entropy and information content of such states; GHZ states, Shor's algorithm, various sorting techniques, and error-correcting codes.

The result of all this progress has been the enormous rise of interest in the field, from physicists who normally classify themselves as being in the standard major sub-disciplines of physics, such as quantum optics, or molecular beam physics. This has led to major results in the field having to be reported at conferences in these other areas, or published in journals whose major thrust is in these areas. This has led to the fragmentation of the dissemination of new knowledge in this field, so that it is sometimes difficult for people directly concerned with these results to locate them among all the uncentralized places for the reporting of them.

A consequence of this is that although the field has grown into a somewhat coherent and easily recognized sub-discipline of its own; there is no centralized place where results can be reported, such that one can be sure that all the physicists who are most interested can be sure of receiving them. Some other consequences of this are that meetings and workshops are often arranged as subgroups of meetings in other areas, and grant proposals often have to compete with other proposals in completely different areas, and are refereed by people whose interest and expertise is in other areas.

For all these reasons, it would be a great boon to research in the field if one could bring together all these disparate resources so that there was a central place that could coordinate and organize meetings and workshops, publish newsletters and perhaps establish an on-line journal, and otherwise coordinate the activities of the researchers who are active in the area. Another major focus of such a group would be to draw to the attention of funding agencies the existence of abroad-based coalition of such researchers, and perhaps to both increase and organize the level of funding available to the field, and also to expedite the emergence of new technologies. Actually, the creation of such a topical group is long overdue, and its existence would have had a strong positive influence on developments in the field, but unfortunately one could not have hoped to bring it about before the awareness of the field within the physics community as a whole had become fairly general. We believe that this has certainly happened, and that there is a sufficient interest in such a topical group that it would be to the advantage of the Society to officially recognize it, and thus we offer you this petition, signed by us and the members below.

Very sincerely yours,

Daniel Greenberger
Dept. of Physics, City College of New York

Anton Zeilinger
Director, Institute of Experimental Physics, Univ. of Vienna