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Notable Achievements in the Last Decade

The research environment at Caltech, where theorists are encouraged to take a very long view and to collaborate across fields and methodologies, stimulates deep theoretical advances.

Selected Caltech contributions to theoretical physics in the last decade:

  • Jason Alicea developed practical methods of generating non-Abelian anyons, both for quantum computing applications and to reveal new fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics.
  • Sean Carroll and Mark Wise developed a method to predict the implications of a breaking of rotational invariance during cosmic inflation—the instant after the Big Bang when the universe may have inflated—on the cosmic microwave background anisotropy, in a way that is independent from other theoretical models being used.
  • Clifford Cheung discovered the Grassmannian formulation of scattering amplitudes in perturbative N=4 supersymmetric Yang-Mills theory.
  • Sergei Gukov provided an analysis of the Chern-Simons theory with complex gauge group and surface operators in four-dimensional gauge theory.
  • Anton Kapustin established a microscopic description of gauge theory dualities and their relation to the Langlands Program in mathematics.
  • Alexei Kitaev classified topological phases of matter.
  • Olexei Motrunich showed that bosons at zero temperature can form an unusual Bose-metal phase in which they are neither condensed nor insulating, but instead produce itinerant metal-like properties.
  • Hirosi Ooguri discovered the surprising relation between counting of black-hole microstates and Gromov-Witten invariants.
  • Christian Ott developed the first three-dimensional numerical relativity simulations of the formation of a spinning black hole at the core of a failing core-collapse supernova in a massive star, as well as the prediction of the gravitational-wave signal of this process.
  • Sterl Phinney predicted the electromagnetic signatures of mergers of binary black holes and compact stellar remnants.
  • John Preskill developed and analyzed new methods for achieving scalable quantum computing that work effectively against stronger and more general noise than previously known methods.
  • Gil Refael established new means to realize and measure Majorana fermions.
  • Mark Scheel and Kip Thorne succeeded in building simulation-based catalogs of gravitational waveforms from black hole mergers for Advanced LIGO.
  • John Schwarz developed a new idea for the low-energy description of membranes in M theory.