nLab John Preskill

Selected writings

On magnetic monopoles:

On vortex\;anyons:

On topological quantum computation:

On quantum error correction for fault-tolerant/reliable quantum computation:

and via adiabatic quantum computation:

On entanglement entropy as an indicator of topological phases of matter:

On quantum computation:

Introducing the HaPPY code tensor network for discussion of holographic entanglement entropy and quantum error correction:


Highlighting the role of quantum entanglement in quantum computation and quantum supremacy (and introducing that term):

  • John Preskill: Quantum computing and the entanglement frontier: pp. 63-80 in: The Theory of the Quantum World – Proceedings of the 25th Solvay Conference on Physics, World Scientific (2013) [arXiv:1203.5813, doi:10.1142/8674, slides: pdf]

More on quantum error correcting codes via holographic tensor networks:

On noisy intermediate-scale quantum computing:

On quantum simulation of (lattice) quantum field theory:

On the state of quantum information and quantum computation:

  • John Preskill, The Physics of Quantum Information, talk at

    The Physics of Quantum Information, 28th Solvay Conference on Physics (2022) [arXiv:2208.08064[


Christopher Fuchs recounts (in an email from Dec. 1997, reproduced on p. 292 of “My Struggles with the Block Universe, 2014):

a little anecdote about John Wheeler that I heard from John Preskill a few days ago. In 1972 he had Wheeler for his freshman classical mechanics course at Princeton.

One day Wheeler had each student write all the equations of physics s/he knew on a single sheet of paper. He gathered the papers up and placed them all side-by-side on the stage at the front of the classroom. Finally, he looked out at the students and said,

“These pages likely contain all the fundamental equations we know of physics. They encapsulate all that’s known of the world.”

Then he looked at the papers and said,

“Now fly!”

Nothing happened. He looked out at the audience, then at the papers, raised his hands high, and commanded,


Everyone was silent, thinking this guy had gone off his rocker. Wheeler said,

“You see, these equations can’t fly. But our universe flies. We’re still missing the single, simple ingredient that makes it all fly.”

On this point, in the video documentary

John Wheeler appears (cf. Blake Stacey, Jan 2016) saying:

There’s nothing deader than an equation. You write that down in a square on a tile floor. And on another tile on the floor you write down another equation, which you think might be a better description of the Universe. And you keep on writing down equations hoping to get a better and better equation for what the Universe is and does.

And then, when you’ve worked your way out to the end of the room and have to step out, you wave your wand and tell the equations to fly.

And not one of them will put on wings and fly.

Yet the Universe flies!

It has a life to it that no equation has, and that life to it is a life with which we are also tied up.

John Preskill re-enacting the episode at the conference banquet of It from QBit 2023:

category: people

Last revised on January 22, 2024 at 18:29:43. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.