John Preskill

California Institute of Technology

Primary Section: 13, Physics
Secondary Section: 34, Computer and Information Sciences
Membership Type:
Member (elected 2014)


John Preskill is the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, and Director of the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech. Preskill was born in Highland Park, Illinois in 1953 and attended Highland Park High School. He received his AB in physics in 1975 from Princeton, and his PhD in physics in 1980 from Harvard. He was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows and Associate Professor of Physics at Harvard before joining the Caltech faculty in 1983; he became the John D. MacArthur Professor in 2002, and the Richard P. Feynman Professor in 2010. Until the mid-1990s, Preskill’s research focused on elementary particles, cosmology, and gravitation. Since then his research has focused primarily on quantum computation and quantum information theory. Preskill is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a two-time recipient of the Associated Students of Caltech Teaching Award. He has mentored more than 45 PhD students and more than 40 postdoctoral scholars at Caltech, many of whom are now leaders in their research areas.

Research Interests

I am a theoretical physicist interested in quantum computing, quantum matter, and quantum gravity. My background is in particle physics and quantum field theory (subjects I still love), but in the 1990s I got excited about the possibility of solving otherwise intractable problems by exploiting quantum physics. I have proposed potential applications of quantum computers to quantum simulation and other hard problems, and I have developed methods for protecting quantum systems from decoherence using cleverly designed software and hardware. I am especially intrigued by the ways our deepening understanding of quantum information and quantum computing can be applied to other fundamental issues of physics, such as the classification of topological phases of matter, nonequilibrium quantum dynamics, the quantum properties of black holes, and the quantum structure of spacetime. Follow me on Twitter @preskill.

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