Michael Nielsen

I'm a scientist, writer, and programmer.

I work on ideas and tools that help people think and create, both individually and collectively.

I'm a Research Fellow at Y Combinator Research. I'm also a member of the Steering Committee for the journal Distill, and write an occasional column for Quanta Magazine.

Want to hear about my projects as they're released? Please join my mailing list.


Neural Networks and Deep Learning: A free online book explaining the core ideas behind artificial neural networks and deep learning. Code.

Recent projects

In what sense is quantum computing a science?

Science is Getting Less Bang for its Buck (with Patrick Collison)

The varieties of material existence

Using Artificial Intelligence to Augment Human Intelligence (with Shan Carter)

Magic Paper

Thought as a Technology

Is AlphaGo Really Such a Big Deal?

Toward an Exploratory Medium for Mathematics

Brief working notes on striking user interfaces

The Physical Origin of Universal Computing

Neural Networks and Deep Learning

Selected earlier projects

Reinventing explanation: Using new media to create new types of explanation.

How the Bitcoin protocol actually works: Bitcoin isn't just electronic money. It's a system for creating new types of programmable financial instrument, and thus new types of collective behaviour. Here's how it works, from the ground up.

The Artist and the Machine: How new aesthetics and forms of beauty are discovered as we probe deeper into nature.

How to crawl a quarter billion webpages in 40 hours: I was curious to see how difficult it is to crawl a non-trivial fraction of the web. Not too difficult, it turns out. Now used to crawl billions of images at TinEye.

Lisp as the Maxwell's equations of software: How to implement a fully executable version of what Alan Kay once called "the Maxwell's equations of software".

If correlation doesn't imply causation, then what does? How can we determine when one event causes another? The causal calculus provides a partial answer.

Collective intelligence
Massively Collaborative Mathematics
Science Beyond Individual Understanding
The Economics of Scientific Collaboration
The Mismeasurement of Science
Shirky's Law and why (most) social software fails
Kasparov Versus the World

Open science now! How changing the political economy of science will transform how we think and create.

Open science
The Future of Science
Is Scientific Publishing About to Be Disrupted?
Doing Science Online
Open Access: a Short Summary
Three Myths about Scientific Peer Review
The New Einsteins Will be Scientists Who Share

The Quantum World: An Introduction
Simple Rules for a Complex Quantum World
Why the World Needs Quantum Mechanics
Quantum Computing for Everyone
What's Wrong with those Quantum Cryptosystems?

Theory of entanglement
When can one entangled state be transformed into another?
What about approximate transformation?
A review: majorization and quantum entanglement

Geometric complexity: Understanding quantum computing as free fall in a curved geometry. And some preliminary investigations into how that curved geometry works.

Quantum teleportation: Teleporting a quantum state from one end of a molecule to the other.

Non-technical blog
Technical blog
Working notes
Academic papers
The Google Technology Stack