Between two universes | MIT Information

When Mohammad Javad Khojasteh arrived at MIT’s Laboratory for Data and Choice Programs (LIDS) in 2020 to start his postdoc appointment, he was launched to a wholly new universe. The area he knew greatest could possibly be defined by “classical” physics that predicts the habits of peculiar objects with near-perfect accuracy (suppose Newton’s three legal guidelines of movement). However this new universe was ruled by weird legal guidelines that may produce unpredictable outcomes whereas working at scales usually smaller than an atom.

“The foundations of quantum mechanics are counterintuitive and appear very unusual while you first begin to be taught them,” Khojasteh says. “However the extra you already know, the clearer it turns into that the underlying logic is extraordinarily elegant.”

As a member of Professor Moe Win’s lab, referred to as the Wi-fi Data and Community Sciences Laboratory, or WINS Lab, Khojasteh’s job is to straddle each the classical and quantum realms, as a way to enhance state-of-the-art communication, sensing, and computational capabilities.

Rising up in Iran, Khojasteh knew he wished to be a scientist from an early age. In highschool, he turned captivated by physics specifically. He was a first-generation faculty graduate, incomes a twin bachelor’s diploma in electrical engineering and math from Sharif College of Know-how, earlier than finishing his PhD in electrical and laptop engineering at College of California at San Diego (UCSD). There, he labored on the intersection of robotics and machine studying, growing instruments to guard towards cyber threats in addition to learning-enabled planning algorithms for autonomous robots to function safely in altering real-world eventualities. After graduating from UCSD in 2019, he remembers calling residence to share the excellent news: “Mother, I’m formally a health care provider now.”

After a stint at Caltech, the place Khojasteh collaborated with NASA researchers to develop planning and management algorithms to enhance off-road autonomous driving and construct robots for life-detection missions on different planets, Khojasteh moved throughout the nation to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to affix LIDS and the WINS Lab.

“LIDS has all the time been on the heart of the decision-making and knowledge science subject,” he says. “As an undergraduate, and later as a PhD scholar, I keep in mind studying papers and textbooks by LIDS professors, so getting the prospect to collaborate with these famend researchers throughout my postdoc has been actually thrilling. LIDS is such an fascinating and vibrant setting.”

Till this level, Khojasteh had centered totally on classical programs equivalent to autonomous automobiles, though he’d all the time maintained a eager curiosity in quantum programs. Within the WINS Lab, he might lastly deal with each pursuits in tandem.

There’s a quantum revolution on the horizon, he explains, that may rework the way in which gadgets carry out sensing, computation, and communications duties. Issues that take classical computer systems years to resolve will probably be baby’s play for the large-scale quantum computer systems slated to return on-line within the subsequent few many years. For instance, these new-wave quantum computer systems will enable biologists and chemists to raised simulate molecular interactions to design new medicine — and even assist engineers to design higher batteries. These machines can even leverage the legal guidelines of quantum physics to advance medical analysis and medical care.

In Khojasteh’s phrases: “This quantum revolution will change lives and assist us to raised perceive the world round us.”

As a result of he was nonetheless so new to the sector of quantum mechanics when he arrived within the WINS Lab, Khojasteh started by studying and discussing associated papers along with his lab mates to stand up to hurry. Within the meantime, he began engaged on a challenge associated to classical programs, serving to robots to navigate whereas protecting their places secret to thwart potential safety breaches.

As Khojasteh started to grasp the principles of the quantum universe, he took on a second challenge that has since develop into his predominant endeavor, geared toward growing data-driven methods to manage the essential items of data that feed quantum computer systems.

Whereas classical computer systems retailer data as electrical pulses that characterize ones and zeroes referred to as “bits,” quantum computer systems use quantum bits, or “qubits,” which could usually be subatomic particles. Based mostly on their distinctive quantum mechanical properties, qubits can characterize extra values apart from simply 0 or 1: They’ll additionally characterize each 0 and 1 on the similar time in several weights (a phenomenon often called superposition that may result in computational benefits). Nonetheless, as a result of the dynamics of quantum programs are so tough to foretell, controlling the state of those qubits isn’t any simple feat. Whereas conventional approaches depend on manually designed fashions, Khojasteh’s technique makes use of a hierarchical design that layers exploratory management, quantum tomography, Hamiltonian studying, and data-driven management methods to extra exactly tune the dynamics of those qubits, permitting quantum computer systems to function extra effectively.

“I’ve discovered a lot from Professor Win,” Khojasteh says. “There are only a few analysis teams with a foot in each classical and quantum physics, so working in his lab has been an incredible alternative.”

With roughly a 12 months left in his postdoc appointment, Khojasteh has begun contemplating his subsequent profession steps. He plans to use to analysis scientist jobs in trade, in addition to college positions. Turning into a professor would enable him to proceed educating, which he’s loved immensely throughout his time at LIDS. Along with serving as a educating assistant, he has additionally volunteered for MIT’s Summer time Analysis Program (MSRP), which empowers college students from traditionally underrepresented teams in science to develop into researchers. Khojasteh mentored one MSRP scholar for over a 12 months, and the 2 even co-authored a research collectively.

Whether or not he pursues a profession in academia or trade, Khojasteh goals to proceed performing elementary analysis in quantum programs. His interdisciplinary background in physics, arithmetic, engineering, robotics, machine studying, and quantum mechanics has endowed him with a multifaceted perspective, which he applies to each analysis drawback he encounters.

“I’m anyone who enjoys crossing the imaginary boundaries between the fields and making an attempt completely different strategies to deal with a analysis query,” he says. “Everybody at LIDS additionally actually values this interdisciplinary strategy, which provides them a broad imaginative and prescient to conduct actually fascinating analysis and clear up vital issues.”

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