Daniel Harlow

Jerrold R. Zacharias Career Development Associate Professor of Physics
Works on combining quantum mechanics and gravity, focusing on the quantum-mechanical aspects of black holes and cosmology.
(617) 253-4866
Office: 6-405
Affiliated Center(s): MIT Center for Theoretical Physics
Assistant: Scott Morley
Assistant Phone: (617) 253-4852

Research Interests

Professor Harlow works on combining quantum mechanics and gravity, focusing on the quantum-mechanical aspects of black holes and cosmology. Recently he has been using methods from quantum information theory to approach these problems, in particular relating the AdS/CFT correspondence—our best theory of quantum gravity so far—to the theory of quantum error correcting codes. He also works on the general structure of quantum field theory, which despite its venerable age has resisted a fully satisfactory formulation, as well as aspects of classical gravity.

Gravity and quantum mechanics don’t seem to fit together well – but understanding black holes will require bringing them together with a theory of quantum gravity. Daniel Harlow discusses an unexpected and increasingly fruitful discovery – the similarity between the problem of quantum gravity and the problem of protecting quantum computers from outside interference.
Courtesy of Breakthrough Prize | YouTube

Biographical Sketch

Daniel Harlow was born in Cincinnati, and grew up in Boston and Chicago. He obtained a BA in physics and mathematics from Columbia University in 2006, a PhD in physics from Stanford University in 2012, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton and Harvard before joining MIT in July 2017. He is an avid hiker and pianist.

Awards & Honors

  • 2020 // Packard Fellow for Science and Engineering
  • 2019 // New Horizons in Physics Prize "for fundamental insights about quantum information, quantum field theory, and gravity."
  • 2019 // Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship
  • 2018 // DOE Quantum Information Science Award
  • 2017 // Simons Foundation "It from Qubit Collaboration'' Principal Investigator

Key Publications

  • A. Almheiri, X. Dong and D. Harlow, “Bulk Locality and Quantum Error Correction in AdS/CFT,” JHEP 1504, 163 (2015) [arXiv:1411.7041 [hep-th]]

  • X. Dong, D. Harlow and A. C. Wall, “Reconstruction of Bulk Operators within the Entanglement Wedge in Gauge-Gravity Duality,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, no. 2, 021601 (2016) [arXiv:1601.05416 [hep-th]].

  • D. Harlow and H. Ooguri, “Constraints on symmetry from holography,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 122, 191601 (2019) doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.122.191601 [arXiv:1810.05337 [hep-th]].