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Proposal: Quantum Information and Foundations

Why not ask such questions on Theoretical Physics SE?

Every research-level quantum information question is perfectly on topic on TP.SE. Moreover, in fact such questions are common (arguably, there are the 2nd most popular topic after the quantum field theory).

closed as too localized by Robert Cartaino May 7 '12 at 13:38

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    I'd like to add that at least until this proposal succeeds, followers of this proposal should consider themselves invited to ask questions on our site, TP.SE. There are lots of good people there available to answer research questions in QI and foundations. I understand there are many potentially interesting questions not related to physics, but on the list of questions in the definition I see many that can be perfectly described as theoretical physics questions. In any event I don't think we are going to split hairs over there. – Moshe Nov 3 '11 at 2:37
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    This is obsolete since "Theoretical Physics is closing". Go for it Quantum Information! – draks ... Apr 27 '12 at 11:01
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The only valid argument I can see for a new site is that the current division between 2 sites (or 3, if you count MO, although most of the quantum stuff is not pure math and wouldn't make a good fit with MO) splits QI people potentially interested in participating. In principle, this could be a reason for creating a separate site - however, at this points I see at least two counterarguments:

a) Take the union of sets of quantum people participating in TP, cstheory and MO. This number is simply not big enough to support a separate site. So the only solution would be to recruit new members that don't participate in SE model at all, which brings us to...

b) If somebody doesn't participate now because "blah, if there is no separate QI site, I won't bother mixing with physics or CS crowd. Either a separate site or no contribution from me at all", I dare say he would not make an active community member anyway, no matter what the site is. If I want quantum questions/answers, I don't complain about lack of adequate site but simply ask these questions in whatever place seems suitable (usually, TP or cstheory). Rejecting these sites because they aren't purely quantum seems like a good excuse for not bothering to participate, not a real and well founded reason.

P.S. A plea to all people who are outspoken here about needing a separate site, yet seem (at least judging by their profiles) to have no previous experience in using SE model - please, take some time to get the feel of how SE sites work, post some questions, write some answers, "lurk more". Not having a separate QI site is not really as bad (in practical terms of being able to get high quality answers from experts) as you seem to think.

P.S. 2: Please, before you dismiss TP.SE as a valid place for QIT, give it a chance. Post QI questions, try to answer those already present. At the moment, QIT's presence there isn't very strong, but you can change that by participating.

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    If the SE community isn't planning to expand, there's no point in introducing new Stack Exchanges because it's just a case of cutting the same pie into smaller pieces. The QI community is extremely vocal on the internet at large (at one point, the Quantum Pontiff was the first Google hit for the search term "pontiff"), yet is grossly underrepresented on the SE network. This proposal (which I had nothing to do with) seeks to remedy that deficiency. It is not seeking to supplant TP.SE because we are discussing A DIFFERENT SUBJECT. – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 17:28
  • Plus: quantum != quantum information. Please respect our subject as something distinct from physics in the same way that Shannon's information theory is distinct from electrical engineering. – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 17:30
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    Just to clarify - "our subject" is also my subject, since I work in QIT :) (and not the physics side of it, mind you :)) – Marcin Kotowski Oct 26 '11 at 17:34
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    @Kernel: your main claim seems to be "there are many quantum people out there who would love to participate, but won't because they don't have a separate site". Please substantiate your claim. What makes you think that someone who doesn't want to participate in existing sites will jump in when a new site opens? – Marcin Kotowski Oct 26 '11 at 17:38
  • Because I did... – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 17:43
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    I noticed that Peter Shor and Scott Aaronson have found TP.SE, and I noticed that Norbert Shuch has found this SE. I guess the SE process will converge one way or another? – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 18:25
  • Had you (and the other detractors) succeeded in ending this proposal when it started, the only thing you would have accomplished is closing the door to the now 20 new SE participants. If this proposal doesn't work, then either they will leave or join another QI oriented SE. You can't lose -- what more could you ask for? It gets worse. When selling an idea, you are just as much selling yourself. Now if I had a vested interested in the success of TP.SE, I certainly would not want this discussion to be first impression potential new members see. – Chris Ferrie Oct 27 '11 at 13:24
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    Is there a way to support more Piotr's and Marcin's position on this? Something like "down-voting" the proposal or "voting to close"... As opposed to what Chris claims, I think that the members of CSTheory.SE and TP.SE will lose a lot if this proposal goes to beta. – Alessandro Cosentino Oct 28 '11 at 17:45
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    Plus, launching the proposal without first discussing it with cstheory/TP.SE people seems a bit inappropriate to me. Of course, you don't have to clear your decisions with anybody, but given that the objectives of these communities are very similar and your proposal can have a big impact on both sites, consulting it before launching would be simply nice (I'm not an ambassador for TP.SE here, this is my personal opinnion). IMHO, "fait accompli" tactics is rarely the best way to go. – Marcin Kotowski Oct 28 '11 at 21:26
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    @AlessandroCosentino: There is if you have at least 3,000 reputation. Two people have already done so, as can be seen from the front page. That said, I urge you to take notice of the fact that over 80% of the users we have accumulated thus far are not TP.SE users. Moreover, in offline discussions, it has been very clear to me that many users do not want to shoehorn QI/QF questions into TP.SE. Even if such questions are allowed there, the categorization is awkward at the very best. – Chris Granade Oct 29 '11 at 1:40
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    @MarcinKotowski: Perhaps we should have; I will admit that would have been courteous. That oversight should not, however, be taken as a reason to spit in the face of the 40-odd users that are supporting this proposal as a more natural home for the very interdisciplinary fields that are quantum information and foundations. This proposal has the potential to be of great benefit to the QI/QF community, and so Chris Ferrie and I are working to realize that potential. I don't know what more I can say, really. – Chris Granade Oct 29 '11 at 1:45
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    @ChrisGranade: if qi.se takes off and proves successful, I'll be as happy as any QI researcher here. However, I don't quite understand why, in the meantime, people don't want to participate in TP.SE. Do you have any clue why's that? "QIT is not a subset of physics" seems a weak reason, at least I wouldn't care for labels or "is it our territory or theirs". – Marcin Kotowski Oct 29 '11 at 2:44
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    People are not aware of TP.SE, because it's still in Beta and it's only 44 days old. Maybe you could have given it more time to grow. Another thing I find pretty odd is that the founder of TP.SE is himself a QI guy. – Alessandro Cosentino Oct 29 '11 at 13:51
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    What I simply do not get is why there seems to be such a need to shoehorn everything into categories where they really don't fit. TP.SE is an amazingly cool thing, yes, but there's room for more than one amazingly cool thing on the Internet. – Chris Granade Oct 29 '11 at 16:47
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    @ChrisGranade: what we disagree on is exactly that. In my opinion there is no room for Mathoverflow, QI.SE, TP.SE and CSTheory.SE all together. I have been hanging around in the CSTheory.SE for the last year and I am still not sure that it was a good idea to spin off from Mathoverflow. After an initial enthusiasm, the number of questions per day is drastically diminishing and and it could be easily handled in Mathoverflow. Anyway, good luck with your proposal. I guess that you don't mind these discussions, since they are at the core of the Area51 process. – Alessandro Cosentino Oct 30 '11 at 16:06
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I am shocked that no one has pointed out that QI is NOT a subset of physics. If I ask about the relationship between BQP and BPP, it is not a physics question. If I ask abour error correction thresholds, it would not necessarily belong in computer science.

I totally reject the idea that QI is on-topic for the Theoretical Physics Stack Exchange.

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    I totally don't understand what do you mean by the last sentence. First, it's not up to you to declare what is on/off topic on TP.SE. (Moreover, random walks or network analysis are on topic, even though it is not physics per se.) Second, you are probably as well unaware of how StackExchange works. Usually it works for broader topics. Even to start you need ~300 participants (it took almost a year to gather them for the TP.SE). If there is a question about computational complexity - there is cstheory.stackexchange.com. In general, there is policy not to split topic unless necessary. – Piotr Migdal Oct 26 '11 at 13:36
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    Where should I ask about the error-correction threshold theorem? – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 13:55
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    Quantum? Just ask it on TP.SE. I bet it will be well received. – Piotr Migdal Oct 26 '11 at 14:54
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    How about the Holevo-Schumacher-Westmoreland theorem for non-unital channels? The correspondence between the Choi-Jamiolkowski isomorphism and the Liouville representation of a quantum channel? Entanglement witnesses as a consequence of the Hahn-Banach theorem? The relationship between diamond norms and gate fidelities? The Holevo additivity conjectures? (I think these are all math questions, by the way) – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 15:30
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    Did you even tried to actually ask such questions? If so, what was the problem: you were left without a proper answer, moderators closed it as off-topic, ...? As I said, purely mathematical questions related in some way to physics (or you mentioned clearly are) are welcome on TP.SE. However, if it is a question in hardcore maths - there is no better place to ask than mathoverflow.net (it has a well-established community of professional mathematicians, including Fields Medalists; TP.SE now only dreams about achieving such success). – Piotr Migdal Oct 26 '11 at 16:17
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    You fell into my trap! Now suppose that I'm Holevo and want to answer all these questions. Do I really have to go to three separate stack exchanges to hunt for QI questions that are worth answering? – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 16:32
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    @Kernel: for your questions, my first try would be TP.SE - this kind of stuff is more likely to be known by physics-oriented QI people than hardcore computer scientists or complexity theory crowd or pure mathematicians (even though these are, in principle, math questions). If that fails (i.e. didn't generate good answers), try cstheory. If you suspect that the answer will require heavy duty math, MO is the place to go. – Marcin Kotowski Oct 26 '11 at 16:57
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    @Kernel: I would be delighted if Holevo wanted to use SE model and his only concern would be too many sites to choose from. Alas, probably, with all due respect you're not Holevo ;) More seriously - if you count all quantum people using any of the 3 sites, I simply don't think you'll get a critical mass. If you disagree, give a list of names and an estimate of how many people you'd expect that don't contribute at all now. – Marcin Kotowski Oct 26 '11 at 17:01
  • You want a list of three hundred names? I have a 600 character limit, you know. I'd single out Scott Aaronson, Dave Bacon, and David Deutsch for starters. For more, I'll have to link to pages that already aggregate QI researchers that are likely to participate in online QI discussions. quantiki.org/wiki/Quantum_blogs service.iqc.ca/people iqi.caltech.edu/people.html iqis.org/people qi.leeds.ac.uk/… mpq.mpg.de/Theorygroup/CIRAC/wiki/index.php/Staff.html – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 17:14
  • May I add to that list Peter Shor and Daniel Gottesman? The QI/QF community is quite large and is rather web-savvy, so I do think we can reach critical mass. Maybe I'm wrong, in which case this proposal will fail with no harm done other than a bit of a waste of time. – Chris Granade Oct 26 '11 at 18:44
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    I've been surfing over TP.SE today and am starting to be converted. Peter Shor and Dan Gottesman replied to a research question by Scott Aaronson on quantum money. I should apparently lurk moar. Edit: thanks to everyone who argued with me -- you have probably convinced me of your point. – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 18:58
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    It seems that quantum information is entirely contained in the union of TP.SE and CSTheory.SE. Is it really necessary to carve off a separate group, when the area is already covered in its entirity by the two existing sites? – Joe Fitzsimons Nov 3 '11 at 16:22
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That was definitely a concern Chris Ferrie and I had when we started this proposal, but we decided to start it anyway, since quantum information and foundations are significantly broader than physics alone. To be fair, many of the questions that we are proposing for the new SE would fit under how TPSE is currently run, but I feel that there are likely to be quite a few members of the community that miss out on participation by the fact that these questions are partitioned into a SE that's far from their own field. Thus, the quantum information and foundations proposal is, more than anything, about increasing the reach that such questions have and about broadening the community.

Put differently, the Theoretical Physics Stack Exchange can serve the needs that this proposal addresses, but I feel that given their popularity and the breadth of the community, it makes sense to create a new SE that reflects the particularly interdisciplinary nature of quantum information and foundations research.

Thanks for your interest and your feedback! Hopefully by addressing concerns like the ones you've raised, we can make a stronger proposal and make a tool that is even more useful to QI/QC/QF researchers. That tool may well be an outreach effort to bring more researchers to TPSE itself, of course, but for now, I still think there's enough value to this proposal that I want to make it as strong as I can. Thanks again!

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    AFAIK on TP.SE questions on quantum information are perfectly on topic, even if they don't explicitly contain physics per se. Actually, I'm doing quantum optics/quantum information and by now I don't see why I should leave TP.SE for something else. Moreover, TP.SE still needs to gather the critical mass of brains. I'm afraid that taking a subset of interest of TP.SE will make gathering the critical mass even more difficult. – Piotr Migdal Oct 25 '11 at 15:13
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    I definitely can understand that criticism, but I think that by adding another SE that caters to QI/QF researchers, we can bring people in that are not currently using StackExchange at all. I've already found a fair number of people interested in a QI/QF SE, but that are not current users of TPSE, so this hope seems to be panning out. That said, you of course raise a valid point, but I think there's a lot of reasons to keep going with the proposal nonetheless. – Chris Granade Oct 25 '11 at 16:09
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    Just a quick addendum to my previous comment, but presently only about 20% of the followers of this proposal are followers of TP.SE. Unfortunately, I don't know how many are users of TP.SE, but it does seem like that would suggest that there's opportunity to expand the community by providing another SE. – Chris Granade Oct 25 '11 at 16:17
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    I second Piotr's criticism (and I'm an avid SE user). If there is much potential from quantum people, why are these people not using TP.SE now, when it could use bigger volume of questions? If they don't find it worthwhile to participate in an already existing site (which took quite a lot of time to start), what are the chances they'll contribute to the critical mass on a new site? – Marcin Kotowski Oct 25 '11 at 17:04
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    Plus, I actually consider this proposal (if it takes off) harmful to the community. At this point, the following scenario is quite probable: a) qinfo.se starts, b) quantum people participating in tp.se move to the new site, c) neither site accumulates a critical mass and both die, and then you'll have to hire a pro necromancer to revive at least TP.SE. There is no overflow of quantum participants in any of SE sites, so any process that dissipates already existing resources is, IMHO, likely to do much more harm than good (at this point, at least). – Marcin Kotowski Oct 25 '11 at 17:07
  • Why is TP.SE not a subset of the Physics Stack Exchange? – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 15:50
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    Two-level system (popular/student-level questions vs advanced/research-level questions), see meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/922/…. – Piotr Migdal Oct 26 '11 at 16:39
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    A similar discussion happened when CSTheory.SE was going out of Beta. IMO, the situation there was different, because the mass of Mathoverflow was way beyond the "critical mass" of a stackexchange website. Anyway, this can help in the discussion: meta.cstheory.stackexchange.com/questions/92/… – Alessandro Cosentino Oct 29 '11 at 14:05
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I don't care for Higgs bosons, neutrinos, or string theory. QI is something that I believe doesn't overlap very well with TP, which makes your proposal like looking for the needle in a haystack, or the few QI questions in the Theoretical physics stack.

I would only bother using this site if there was a QI stack.

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    "I don't care for PDEs, number theory or topology - I want to do hardcore algebraic geometry. Let's do a separate SE site for algebraic geometry. I would only bother using this site if there was an AG stack". MathOverflow is a huge site with a big volume of Q/A. Yet, for some reason, nobody there feels about their subfield the way you feel about QI. At the very least, you can easily use tags to filter out stuff you're not interested in. – Marcin Kotowski Oct 26 '11 at 16:51
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    Plus: "the few QI questions in the Theoretical physics stack" - you're complaining that QI is underrepresented on TP.SE? What have you done to change this, how many QI questions have you asked there? And "QI is something that I believe doesn't overlap very well with TP" is simply cliquish behaviour - QI does overlap very strongly with theoretical physics. At the moment, TP.SE seems to be dominated by HEP/QFT/strings stuff, but again - you can change that by asking questions. Alienating yourself from the bigger community is not the way to go. – Marcin Kotowski Oct 26 '11 at 16:53
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    Marcin, that's just insulting. QI is far broader than physics. – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 17:20
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    Of course it is. But it does have a big overlap with physics - as well as big overlap with computer science, and a somewhat smaller overlap with mathematics. What's insulting about that? – Marcin Kotowski Oct 26 '11 at 17:23
  • Electrical engineering has a lot of overlap with physics too, yet every university I can think of has separate physics and engineering departments. Stop trying to claim that your subject supersedes ours. – Kernel Oct 26 '11 at 17:24
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    PDEs, number theory and topology are all appropriately subsets of MO, but there are two main points to be made. One, if a given subcategory was exceedingly common on MO, then making a separate site might be appropriate. Second, it is decidedly not the case that all interesting QI/QF subjects should be treated as TP.SE tags. It turns out that doing so is a decent way of handling things for now, but we're trying to do one better, and engage the community more in the effort. – Chris Granade Oct 26 '11 at 18:46
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    To be honest I have not invested anything in this community and as such my comments are not completely accurate or coming from any position of authority. I just want people here to know that there are people who do not use this website who might join because of this effort, but wouldn't join for Theoretical Physics. Maybe if this new endevour works out I would start following TP later. In short this isn't a zero sum game. Supporting this stack doesn't mean taking support from the other one. – josephR Oct 27 '11 at 5:56
  • Is there a way on SE to follow a few different stacks from a homepage like how reddit does it? – josephR Oct 27 '11 at 6:14
  • @josephR: You can get emails about certain tags, I think, so that might be a useful way to proceed. – Noon Silk Oct 29 '11 at 23:37
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    Just to add to my prior comment (as I can't edit it), note that you can find RSS links for each tag on each SE site, and also get email notifications, so if you take some care in setting up a QI rss question list, it might prove to be enough. – Noon Silk Oct 29 '11 at 23:52
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    @Kernel: A large portion of the TP.SE community are QI people. – Joe Fitzsimons Nov 3 '11 at 16:25
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    @JoeFitzsimons Hi Joe, are you still around? Some people are preparing to some kind of revive TP.SE with a slightly broadend scope outside the SE network. We have already quite successfully tested importing the content of the TP data dump into a Q2A offline site on private laptops (some technical issues have still to be resolved though). Concerning hosting, we will probably try this. If you are interested, you can find us here. – Dilaton Dec 4 '13 at 10:38
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    @Dilaton: I will check it out. – Joe Fitzsimons Dec 6 '13 at 2:25

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