Skip to content

Michael Nielsen

Michael Nielsen

I’m a writer, scientist, and programmer.

I’m currently taking a sabbatical to write a technical book about artificial neural networks and deep learning. The book explains how neural networks can learn to solve complex pattern recognition problems. The book will become available late in 2013 — sign up here if you’d like to receive announcements about the book. Work-in-progress code, notes, and links for the project are available.

My work is motivated by the creation of tools to help people think better, either individually or in groups. Put another way, I’m interested in cognitive tools and in collective intelligence.

Open science

I believe that publicly funded science should be open science, and from 2008-2012 I worked as an advocate for open science. You can get the flavour of my work on open science from my talk at, or in my op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. I’ve developed these ideas at length in my essay on The Future of Science and in other essays. I’ve also written a book about collective intelligence and open science. It was named one of the best books of 2011 by the Financial Times and by the Boston Globe. (Reviews: Guardian, Financial Times, Nature, Tim O’Reilly’s review on Google+)

Much of my own creative work is carried out in the open, on my blogs (here and here), on GitHub, and in other online fora (see links on the right). Nearly all my scientific papers are available for download here.

Scientific work

My interest in open science grew out of my work as a scientist. In the 1990s and 2000s I helped pioneer the field of quantum computation. Together with Ike Chuang of MIT, I wrote the standard text on quantum computing. This is one of the ten most highly cited physics books of all time (Source: Google Scholar, March 2012). I’ve written more than fifty scientific papers, including invited contributions to Scientific American and Nature. My research contributions include the majorization theorem governing the manipulation of entangled quantum states, involvement in one of the first quantum teleportation experiments, named as one of Science Magazine’s Top Ten Breakthroughs of the Year for 1998, quantum gate teleportation, quantum process tomography, and critical contributions to the formula for the quantum channel capacity (1, 2, 3). A full list of papers is here.

Education and Employment

I was educated at the University of Queensland, and as a Fulbright Scholar in the group of Carl Caves at the University of New Mexico. I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, at Caltech as the Richard Chace Tolman Prize Fellow, at the University of Queensland as Foundation Professor of Quantum Information Science and a Federation Fellow, and at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics as a Senior Faculty member. In 2008, I gave up my tenured academic position in order to work as an advocate for open science.