Forthcoming exascale digital computers will further advance our knowledge of quantum chromodynamics, but formidable challenges will remain. In particular, Euclidean Monte Carlo methods are not well suited for studying real-time evolution in hadronic collisions, or the properties of hadronic matter at nonzero temperature and chemical potential. Digital computers may never be able to achieve accurate simulations of such phenomena in QCD and other strongly-coupled field theories; quantum computers will do so eventually, though I'm not sure when. Progress toward quantum simulation of quantum field theory will require the collaborative efforts of quantumists and field theorists, and though the physics payoff may still be far away, it's worthwhile to get started now. Today's research can hasten the arrival of a new era in which quantum simulation fuels rapid progress in fundamental physics.
As part of the Spring 2019 Hans Bethe Lecture Series at Cornell, Physicist John Preskilll presented the LEPP Joint Seminar, "Simulating Quantum Field Theory with a Quantum Computer," April 12. Preskill is the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, and director of the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech. He received his Ph.D. in physics in 1980 from Harvard, and joined the Caltech faculty in 1983.
The Hans Bethe Lectures, established by the Department of Physics and the College of Arts and Sciences, honor Bethe, Cornell professor of physics from 1936 until his death in 2005. Bethe won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1967 for his description of the nuclear processes that power the sun.