Edward Henry Farhi is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was the Director of the Center for Theoretical Physics at MIT from 2004 until 2016. He made contributions to particle physics, general relativity and astroparticle physics before turning to his current interest, quantum computation.

Edward Farhi
Alma materHarvard University
Brandeis University
Scientific career
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisorHoward Georgi
Doctoral studentsAndrew Childs


Edward (Eddie) Farhi attended the Bronx High School of Science and obtained his B.A. and M.A. in physics at Brandeis University before getting his Ph.D. in 1978 from Harvard University under the supervision of Howard Georgi. He was then on the staff at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland before coming to MIT, where he joined the faculty in 1982. At MIT, he has taught undergraduate courses in quantum mechanics and special relativity as well as freshman physics. At the graduate level he has taught quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, particle physics and general relativity. In July 2004, he was appointed the Director of MIT's Center for Theoretical Physics, a position he currently holds. He has supervised many graduate students who have since had successful careers.[1]


Farhi was trained as a theoretical particle physicist but has also worked on astrophysics, general relativity, and the foundations of quantum mechanics. His present interest is the theory of quantum computation.

As a graduate student, Farhi invented the jet variable "Thrust" which is used to describe how particles in high energy accelerator collisions come out in collimated streams.[2] Today at the LHC Thrust is used to characterize properties of the collisions. He then worked with Leonard Susskind on grand unified theories with electro-weak dynamical symmetry breaking.[3] At CERN, he and Larry Abbott proposed an (almost viable) model in which quarks, leptons, and massive gauge bosons are composite.[4] At MIT, with Robert Jaffe, he worked out many of the properties of a possibly stable super dense form of matter called ``Strange Matter" [5] and with Charles Alcock and Angela Olinto he studied the properties of ``Strange Stars",[6] compact objects made of strange matter. His interest then shifted to general relativity and he and Alan Guth studied the classical and quantum prospects of creating a new inflationary universe in a laboratory today.[7] He and Guth, along with Sean Carroll, showed how building a time machine would require resources beyond what could ever be possible to obtain.[8]

Since the late '90's, Farhi has been studying how to use quantum mechanics to gain algorithmic speedup in solving problems that are difficult for conventional computers. He and Sam Gutmann pioneered the continuous time Hamiltonian based approach to quantum computation [9] which is an alternative to the conventional gate model. He and Gutmann then proposed the idea of designing algorithms based on quantum walks, which has been used to demonstrate the power of quantum computation over classical.[10] They, along with Jeffrey Goldstone and Michael Sipser, introduced the idea of quantum computation by adiabatic evolution,[11] which has generated much interest in the quantum computing community, as an example, the D-Wave machine is designed to run the quantum adiabatic algorithm. In 2007, Farhi, Goldstone and Gutmann showed, using quantum walks, that a quantum computer can determine who wins a game faster than a classical computer.[12] In 2010, he along with Peter Shor and others at MIT introduced a scheme for Quantum Money [13] which so far has resisted attack. In 2014 Farhi, Goldstone and Gutmann introduced a novel quantum algorithm for finding approximate solutions to combinatorial search problems.[14]

Farhi continues to work on quantum computing but keeps a close eye on particle physics and recent developments in cosmology.


  1. ^ http://genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu/id.php?id=105726
  2. ^ Farhi, Edward (1977). "Quantum Chromodynamics Test for Jets". Physical Review Letters. 39 (25): 1587–1588. Bibcode:1977PhRvL..39.1587F. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.39.1587.
  3. ^ "APS Journals - Search". journals.aps.org. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  4. ^ Abbott, L.F.; Farhi, Edward; Wise, Mark B. (1982). "Particle production in the new inflationary cosmology". Physics Letters B. 117: 29–33. Bibcode:1982PhLB..117...29A. doi:10.1016/0370-2693(82)90867-X.
  5. ^ http://journals.aps.org/prd/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevD.30.2379
  6. ^ Alcock, Charles; Farhi, Edward; Olinto, Angela (1986). "Strange stars". The Astrophysical Journal. 310: 261. Bibcode:1986ApJ...310..261A. doi:10.1086/164679.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Farhi, Edward; Guth, Alan H. (1987). "An obstacle to creating a universe in the laboratory". Physics Letters B. 183 (2): 149. Bibcode:1987PhLB..183..149F. doi:10.1016/0370-2693(87)90429-1.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  8. ^ https://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/9207037
  9. ^ https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9612026
  10. ^ https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9706062
  11. ^ https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9901059
  12. ^ http://arxiv[permanent dead link]:quant-ph/0702144
  13. ^ http://arxiv:1004[permanent dead link].5127
  14. ^ https://arxiv.org/abs/1411.4028