University College London
“What is your job?” asks my seven years old niece. What should I answer? There are various options. “School teacher” does not sound right, since I am not teaching at the moment. “Scientist” is too generic. So? My answer is “I count balls in boxes”. Well, not exactly, but at least this makes her laugh.
Central to my work are methods from Combinatorics. So my answer was not too silly, because this area of research has been nicknamed the “Mathematics of balls in boxes”. What do we do with that?
I like to look at concrete situation and modeling natural phenomena. Indeed, the descriptive power of these mathematical tools permit to deal with many scenarios, and in particular, is at the basis of Network Theory. Networks these days are everywhere, like parsley in Italian cuisine. My favorite dish are small interacting quantum systems, like photons, for example.
And here comes the study of “quantum networks”, a new area concerned with the interface between distributed systems of quantum objects and Network Theory. Looking at applications, this topic provides a good testing ground for nano-scale
devices for computing and communication.
The next generations of communication networks are likely to take advantage of quantum phenomena. Indeed, the physical implementation of secure cryptographic protocols, based on information written down at the atomic level and executed by several distant agents, is today a reality.
But the study of quantum networks is also useful beyond technology, because, importantly, it introduces techniques and methods from quantum mechanics into the study of complex systems, with applications in the most diverse settings.
Such a cross fertilization has long fringes in models of energy transfer in living organisms, in fundamental questions concerning the structure of space-time, in the theory of social dynamics, and in methods to discriminate between different cancer types.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)