A new meta-experiment begins today: using crypto to crowdfund scientific research.
In quantum science, formal pathways to access research funding often preclude small grants. Further perverse incentives lead to research hidden behind paywalls that is only publicly reported on in press releases. What if research — that is often funded by the public anyway — was truly owned by the public? Think of this crowdfund as a proof of concept on the road to an open, decentralized model of scientific research. You will fund and own a small piece of the quantum science corner of the scientific corpus.
I am raising 3 ETH (~$12k), with contributions capped at 0.25 ETH. Contributors will receive a stake in $QUANTUM, the research token. Here’s how it works.
The goal is to implement and test a new method for solving some problems in the characterization of quantum systems and engineered quantum devices.
More specifically, we will adapt the Stein Variational Gradient Descent algorithm to the quantum setting. The thesis is that this algorithm will improve on the state-of-the-art in two ways: (1) it will be faster and more accurate; (2) it will be more robust and reliable to use.
The specific problem this will solve is the Bayesian inference of quantum systems. The current state-of-the-art for this problem is open-source software, called Qinfer, written by me. It is a randomized numerical approximation algorithm. Whereas, the proposed solution is a deterministic numerical approximation. The expectation is that the new algorithm will alleviate some of the problems associated with the random aspects of the state-of-the-art.
We will test this thesis through simulated experiments. This research project is specifically designed to be achievable by an undergraduate summer research student under my supervision and guidance.
Stretch goals include running the algorithms on cloud quantum devices, upgrading “physics code” to proper software, and publishing the research in a “gold” open-access journal, all of which require additional funds.
An entire book could be written on this topic, but let me hit the main points:
I am Chris Ferrie, a professor, author, blogger, illustrator, and all-around perennial tinkerer of ideas. I lead a research group at the University of Technology Sydney currently focussing on quantum characterization and control. I love teaching and seeing students transition from passive consumers of facts to creators of knowledge.
The crowdfund will go until the 10 ETH cap is hit. The minimum funding goal is 3 ETH, which will go to paying the research student (2 ETH), editing (0.25 ETH), design/illustration (0.25 ETH), minting fees (0.1 ETH), with the rest a buffer.
When the funding goal is met, I will advertise the position. The funds will be used to pay an undergraduate research student over the Australian summer university term (6 December 2021 through 18 February 2022). The artifacts will be made public at the end of the summer term. But for that to happen, we need your support today!