I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn. Previously, I was a DPhil student at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Jamie Vicary. A brief version of my CV can be found here.
I am interested in applications of higher category theory to — and its interplay with — low-dimensional topology, homotopy theory and mathematical physics. I am currently working on various constructions of 4-dimensional topological field theories and related questions in quantum algebra. Another focus of my work is on applying ideas from low-dimensional category theory and homotopy theory to quantum information theory.
My research interests include:
- higher category theory
- topological field theory
- quantum algebra (fusion categories, subfactors, quantum groups, . . .)
- quantum information theory & its relations to topological field theory and noncommutative mathematics
- On August 2019, I successfully defended my DPhil thesis on `Higher linear algebra in topology and quantum information theory', which can be found here.
- From September to December 2019 and from June 2020 to January 2022, I will be a postdoc at the Max-Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, continuing my work on topological field theories and other applications of higher category theory.
- From January to May 2020, I will be a postdoc at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley during the programs Higher Categories and Categorification and Quantum Symmetries.
9) Semisimple 4-dimensional topological field theories cannot detect exotic smooth structure
We prove that semisimple 4-dimensional oriented topological field theories lead to stable diffeomorphism invariants and can therefore not distinguish homeomorphic closed oriented smooth 4-manifolds and homotopy equivalent simply connected closed oriented smooth 4-manifolds. We show that all currently known 4-dimensional field theories are semisimple, including unitary field theories, and once-extended field theories which assign algebras or linear categories to 2-manifolds. As an application, we compute the value of a semisimple field theory on a simply connected closed oriented 4-manifold in terms of its Euler characteristic and signature. Moreover, we show that a semisimple 4-dimensional field theory is invariant under ℂP^2-stable diffeomorphisms if and only if the Gluck twist acts trivially. This may be interpreted as the absence of fermions amongst the `point particles' of the field theory. Such fermion-free field theories cannot distinguish homotopy equivalent 4-manifolds. Throughout, we illustrate our results with the Crane-Yetter-Kauffman field theory associated to a ribbon fusion category. As an algebraic corollary of our results applied to this field theory, we show that a ribbon fusion category contains a fermionic object if and only if its Gauss sums vanish.
8) Uniqueness of unitary structure for unitarizable fusion categories
A unitary fusion category is a fusion category over the complex numbers with a compatible positive dagger structure. Such unitary structures naturally arise in many applications and constructions of fusion categories, most notably in the context of operator algebras, subfactor theory, and mathematical physics. Not every fusion category admits a unitary structure, and a fusion category could, in principle, have more than one unitary structure. Especially in light of the recent powerful operator algebraic classification techniques of unitary fusion categories, the question of uniqueness of unitary structure has become a significant open problem. In this paper, we prove that every unitarizable fusion category, and more generally every semisimple C*-tensor category, admits a unique unitary structure. Our proof is based on a categorified polar decomposition theorem for monoidal equivalences between such categories.
7) High-level methods for homotopy constructions in associative n-categories
With Jamie Vicary.
The theory of associative n-categories (ANC) is a model for semistrict higher categories, recently developed by Christoph Dorn, Christopher Douglas, and Jamie Vicary, and based on a combinatorial representation of higher string diagrams. In this work, we continue the development of ANCs and introduce the proof assistant homotopy.io. We develop a general contraction principle in ANCs which forms the mathematical heart of homotopy.io, allowing string diagram manipulations in arbitrary dimensions.
Proceedings of the 34th Annual ACM/IEEE Symposium on Logic in Computer Science, 2019 (LICS 2019)
6) Fusion 2-categories and a state-sum invariant for 4-manifolds
With Christopher Douglas.
One of the early successes of quantum topology was the construction of a three-dimensional topological field theory by Turaev-Viro, and its generalization by Barrett-Westbury, starting from the data of a spherical fusion category. In this work, we introduce spherical fusion 2-categories and construct a state-sum invariant of oriented singular piecewise-linear 4-manifolds, which categorifies the Turaev-Viro-Barrett-Westbury invariant. There are many examples of fusion 2-categories, including the 2-category of module categories of a braided fusion category, the 2-category of 2-representations of a finite 2-group and twisted linearizations of finite 2-groups.
5) The Morita theory of quantum graph isomorphisms
Using the machinery developed in `A compositional approach to quantum functions', we classify instances of quantum pseudo-telepathy in the graph isomorphism game by showing that graphs quantum isomorphic to a graph G correspond to certain Frobenius algebras in a monoidal category of quantum graph automorphisms of G. In certain cases, this classification can be expressed in group-theoretical terms.
4) A compositional approach to quantum functions
Pseudo-telepathy is a phenomenon in quantum information, where two non-communicating parties can use pre-shared entanglement to perform a task classically impossible without communication. In this work, we uncover a connection between pseudo-telepathy and quantum symmetry, expressed in the language of fusion categories. We use this connection to classify instances of pseudo-telepathy in the `graph isomorphism game'. In this case, the relevant categories are (co)representation categories of `quantum automorphisms groups' of graphs, studied in compact quantum group theory. Along the way, we develop a 2-categorical framework for finite quantum set theory.
3) Shaded tangles for the design and verification of quantum programs
With Jamie Vicary.
We give a tangle-based graphical language for the description of quantum circuits such that isotopic tangles yield equivalent programs. This leads to several new protocols and topological insight into known phenomena such as error correcting codes and local inversion of cluster states. We analyze 11 known quantum procedures in this way -- including entanglement manipulation, error correction and teleportation -- and in each case present a fully-topological formal verification, yielding generalized procedures in some cases.
2) A classical groupoid model for quantum networks
With Jamie Vicary.
We describe a certain combinatorial 2-category and use it to give a mathematical analysis of a new type of classical computer network architecture, intended as a model of a new technology that has recently been proposed in industry. Our approach is based on groubits, generalizations of classical bits based on groupoids. This network architecture allows the direct execution of a number of protocols that are usually associated with quantum networks, including teleportation, dense coding and secure key distribution.
1) Biunitary constructions in quantum information theory
With Jamie Vicary.
Biunitary connections are central tools in the study and classification of subfactors. At the same time, several important quantum informatic quantities such as Hadamard matrices, unitary error bases and quantum Latin squares can be expressed as special cases of biunitaries. This leads to a range of applications of biunitaries in various 2-categories to quantum and classical information theory. In this paper, we use the interpretation of Hadamard matrices, unitary error bases and quantum Latin squares as biunitaries to obtain many new construction methods for these quantities. An extended abstract can be found here.
- November 2019. Seminar talk "From fusion 2-categories to 4-manifold invariants" at the Oberseminar Globale Analysis at the Universität Regensburg.
- October 2019. Invited talk "From quantum teleportation to biunitary connections (and back)" at the Oberwolfach workshop on Subfactors and Applications.
- August 2019. Invited talk "The Morita theory of quantum graph isomorphisms" at the workshop Focused research group on noncommutative mathematics and quantum information at the University of Bristol.
- June 2019. Contributed talk "High-level methods for homotopy construction in associative n-categories" at the conference Logic in Computer Science (LICS) in Vancouver.
- June 2019. Joint mini-course with Jamie Vicary on "Higher categories and quantum structures" at the Summer research program on quamtum symmetries at the Ohio State University.
- October 2018. Invited talk "From quantum automorphisms to pseudo-telepathy" at the workshop Cohomology of quantum groups and quantum automorphism groups of finite graphs, at the University of Saarbrücken.
- September 2018. Contributed talk "A compositional approach to quantum functions" at the First Symposium on Compositional Structures (SYCO 1) at the University of Birmingham.
- May 2018. Invited talk "Pseudo-telepathy via graphs and fusion categories" at the IOP's nonlinear and complex physics group's spring meeting on graph theory and physics at Imperial College, London.
- April 2018. Invited talk "Hopf algebras and 3-categories" at the University of Cambridge's junior geometry seminar.
- March 2018. Invited talk "Quantum functions and the Morita theory of quantum graph isomorphisms" at the workshop Combining viewpoints in quantum theory at the ICMS Edinburgh. A video of the talk can be found here.
- March 2018. Invited talk "Higher algebra in quantum information theory" at Stanford University's quantum information seminar.
- August 2017. Invited talk "Frobenius algebras, Hopf algebras and 3-categories" at the conference Hopf algebras in Kitaev's quantum double models at the Perimeter Institute, Canada. A video of my talk can be found here.
- July 2017. Contributed talks "Biunitary constructions in quantum information" and "Shaded tangles for the design and verification of quantum programs" at QPL 2017. Videos of my talks can be found here and here.
- June 2017. Contributed talks "A 2-categorical approach to composing quantum structures" and "A classical groupoid model for quantum networks" at CALCO 2017.
- January 2017. Contributed talk "Biunitary constructions in quantum information" at QIP 2017, the top international quantum information conference. Slides and video of the talk can be found here and here.