This talk considers fermions and their simulation on both conventional and quantum computers. The indistinguishability of fermions presents interesting challenges and opportunities in chemistry, physics, and computer science. James Whitfield's primary focus has been on (1) algebraic maps from fermionic to qubits and (2) the role of single-particle orbitals in the complexity of the fermion ground state problem. This lecture will give a tour of both areas of this research, highlighting a new data structure Whitfield and his colleagues have developed and complexity results concerning adversarial selection of orbitals.

James Daniel Whitfield is an associate professor of physics at Dartmouth College, where his research focuses on fermions within the realms of quantum information, computational chemistry, and condensed matter physics. He earned a bachelor of science in chemistry and mathematics from Morehouse College and a PhD in chemical physics from Harvard University. He is currently working on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) quantum computing effort as an Amazon visiting academic with a training and education focus.


The Richard M. Karp Distinguished Lectures were created in Fall 2019 to celebrate the role of Simons Institute Founding Director Dick Karp in establishing the field of theoretical computer science, formulating its central problems, and contributing stunning results in the areas of computational complexity and algorithms. Formerly known as the Simons Institute Open Lectures, the series features visionary leaders in the field of theoretical computer science, and is geared toward a broad scientific audience.

Light refreshments will be available prior to the start of the lecture. 

The lecture recording URL will be emailed to registered participants. This URL can be used for immediate access to the livestream and recorded lecture. Lecture recordings will be publicly available on SimonsTV about 12-15 days following each presentation unless otherwise noted.

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Registration is required to attend this workshop in person, for access to the livestream, or for early access to the recordings. Seating is first come, first served.

If you require special accommodation, please contact our access coordinator at simonsevents [at] with as much advance notice as possible.