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Apr. 2022
Sean Carroll (Caltech and Santa Fe Institute)


A macroscopic arrow of time can be derived from reversible and time-symmetric fundamental laws if we assume an appropriate notion of coarse-graining and a Past Hypothesis of low entropy at early times. It is an ongoing project to show how familiar aspects of time's arrow, such as the fact that causes precede effects, can be derived from such a formalism. I will argue that the causal arrow arises naturally when we describe macroscopic systems in terms of a causal network, and make some suggestions about how to fit prediction and memory into this framework.

Sean Carroll is a Research Professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology, and Fractal Faculty at the Santa Fe Institute. He received his Ph.D. in 1993 from Harvard University. His research focuses on foundational questions in quantum mechanics, spacetime, cosmology, emergence, entropy, and complexity, occasionally touching on issues of dark matter, dark energy, symmetry, and the origin of the universe. Carroll is the author of Something Deeply Hidden, The Big Picture, The Particle at the End of the Universe, From Eternity to Here, and Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity. He has been awarded prizes and fellowships by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Sloan Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Royal Society of London, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Carroll has appeared on TV shows such as The Colbert Report, PBS's NOVA, and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, and frequently serves as a science consultant for film and television. He is host of the weekly Mindscape podcast. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, writer Jennifer Ouellette.
Playlist: 20 videos
Mar. 2021
Ramin Hasani (MIT)
Synthesis of Models and Systems
Nov. 2020
Philippe Rigollet (MIT)
Foundations of Data Science Institute Kickoff Workshop
Nov. 2020
Michael Jordan (UC Berkeley)
Foundations of Data Science Institute Kickoff Workshop
May. 2020
The Women of Theory of Computer Science rock to our version of I Will Survive!

I Will Survive
Lyrics: Avi Wigderson (IAS)

At first I was afraid, I was petrified
I worried I could never fit this proof on just one slide
But then I spent so many nights thinking why it is so long
And I grew strong
And learned exactly what went wrong

A problem wor-thy, of attack
Just proves its worth by vigorously fighting back
I should have used error correction, should have sampled yet again
I should have stayed the course and found there is so much that I can gain

So do come back, problems galore
I am much more ready to attack you than I was before
I’ll fight you guiltless when at work, forget you guiltless when at home
And if you’re fun then in the pastures of the TCS we’ll roam

So I’ll survive, and I will thrive,
By Nash’s equilibrium, there must be balance to my life
I’ve got all my life to live,
And I’ve got all my Math to give
So I’ll survive,
and I will thrive, hey, hey

It took all the strength I had, I was nearly spent,
Trying hard to mend, the errors, in my argument
I put each pigeon in its hole, consulted every oracle
My upper bound
Turned up below my lower bound

Then I came up, with something new
I thought outside the blackbox, found what others never knew
That polynomials with a small degree have small number of roots
That few cryptogra-phic assumptions no one’s likely to dispute

So do come back, problems galore
I am much more ready to attack you than I was before
As I have wit and I have WIT and having both is pretty neat
Indeed a convex combination that is very hard to beat

So I’ll survive, and I will thrive,
Because (in theory, at least) this is a perfect life
You pick the problems that you love
To fit your brain just like a glove
So I’ll survive,
and I will thrive, hey, hey

Dahlia Malkhi (Calibra, Facebook)
Elette Boyle (IDC, Israel)
Irit Dveer Dinur (Weizmann Institute, Israel)
Julia Chuzhoy (Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago, USA)
Katrina Ligett (Hebrew University, Israel)
Keren Censor-Hillel (Technion, Israel)
Lisa Zhang (Bell-Labs, USA)
Mary Wooters (Stanford University, USA)
Michal Feldman (Tel-Aviv University, Israel)
Nicole Immorlica (Microsoft Research, New England, USA)
Orna Kupferman (Hebrew University, Israel)
Rebecca Wright (Barnard College, USA)
Ronitt Rubinfeld (MIT, USA)
Shafi Goldwasser (Simons Institute at UC Berkeley, USA)
Shubhangi Saraf (Rutgers University, USA)
Shuchi Chawla (University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA)
Sofya Raskhodnikova (Boston University, USA)
Tal Malkin (Columbia University, USA)
Tal Rabin (Algorand Foundation, USA)
Yael Tauman Kalai (Microsoft Research, New England, USA)
Apr. 2020
Theory Shorts is a documentary web series that explores topics from the Simons Institute’s research programs.

Episode 1, “Perception as Inference: The Brain and Computation,” explores the computational processes by which the brain builds visual models of the external world, based on noisy or incomplete data from patterns of light sensed on the retinae.

Bruno Olshausen

Christoph Drösser

Michaelle McGaraghan

Kristin Kane
Michaelle McGaraghan

Shafi Goldwasser

Caresse Haaser
Christoph Drösser
Lukas Engelhardt

Barry Bödeker

Drew Mason
Omied Far
Michaelle McGaraghan
Matt Beardsley

Christine Wang
Bexia Shi
Lior Shavit

“Plastic” by Purple Moons
Courtesy of Marmoset in Portland, Oregon

Bruce Damonte
Arash Fazl
Anders Garm
Jean Lorenceau and Maggie Shiffrar
Beau Lotto
A. L. Yarbus
Bruno Olshausen
videocobra / Pond5
BlackBoxGuild / Pond5
nechaevkon / Pond5
DaveWeeks / Pond5
CinematicStockVideo / Pond5
BananaRepublic / Pond5
MicroStockTube / Pond5
shelllink / Pond5
AudioQuattro / Envato Market
HitsLab / Envato Market
FlossieWood / Envato Market
plaincask / Envato Market
MusicDog / Envato Market
Loopmaster / Envato Market
Ryokosan / Envato Market
Images used under license from

© Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, 2019
Apr. 2020
Chris Schaffner (University of Amsterdam & QuSoft)
Lattices: Algorithms, Complexity, and Cryptography
Quantum Cryptography for Dummies
Apr. 2020
Henry Yuen (University of Toronto)
Richard M. Karp Distinguished Lecture Series, Spring 2020

In a recent result known as "MIP* = RE," ideas from three disparate fields of study — computational complexity theory, quantum information, and operator algebras — have come together to simultaneously resolve long-standing open problems in each field, including a 44-year old mystery in mathematics known as Connes’ Embedding Problem. In this talk, I will describe the evolution and convergence of ideas behind MIP* = RE: it starts with three landmark discoveries from the 1930s (Turing’s notion of a universal computing machine, the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, and von Neumann’s theory of operators), and ends with some of the most cutting-edge developments from theoretical computer science and quantum computing.

This talk is aimed at a general scientific audience, and will not assume any specialized background in complexity theory, quantum physics, or operator algebras.
Jan. 2020
Shweta Agrawal (IIT, MADRAS)
Lattices: Algorithms, Complexity, and Cryptography Boot Camp
Playlist: 20 videos
Apr. 11 – Apr. 15, 2016
Playlist: 28 videos
Nov. 10 – Nov. 14, 2014
Playlist: 24 videos