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2022 Chhabra-Landau Lecture: Meeting Dirac’s Challenge: Quantum Many-body Physics in the 21st Century

Andrew Mills
Professor Andrew J. Millis
Department of Physics, Columbia University
Center for Computational Quantum Physics, Flatiron Institute
Physics Auditorium (2020) and Zoom
Chhabra-Landau Distinguished Lecture
Departmental/CSP Colloquium

In 1929 Paul Adrian Maurice Dirac wrote, with complete theoretical justification, “The underlying physical laws necessary for the mathematical theory of a large part of physics and the whole of chemistry are thus completely known” and he continued , “... the difficulty is only that the exact application of these laws leads to equations much too complicated to be soluble. It therefore becomes desirable that approximate practical methods of applying quantum mechanics should be developed, which can lead to an explanation of the main features of complex atomic systems without too much computation.’’ This talk will present recent spectacular progress towards meeting Dirac’s challenge. The key insight, important on multiple levels, is that the quantum many-body problem is in essence a big data problem, with the solutions all revolving around appropriate compression of information. Crucial to the practical solution is a multimessenger approach demanding consistency between different methods. Specific examples and important open questions and challenges will be discussed.


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