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Jamie Vicary

Personal photo - Jamie Vicary

Jamie Vicary

Senior Research Fellow

T: (01865 6)10775

Room 208, Wolfson Building, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QD


My work is on higher category theory and its applications in computer science and mathematics, particularly in areas related to quantum structures.

The future

  • September 2017. I am serving as Workshop Chair for FSCD 2017, where we will be hosting 11 fantastic workshops: EUTypes, HDRA, HoTT, IFIP, IWC, LFMTP, SD, String, TLLA, UNIF and WPTE.
  • July 2017. Invited talks at QPL 2017 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and Higher Structures 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal, and Hopf Algebras in Kitaev's Quantum Double Models, Perimeter Institute, Canada.
  • May 2017. I will be at the Hay Festival (with David Reutter) running a workshop where members of the public can build their own quantum computers!
  • April 2017. Group seminar at IRIF, Paris, France.

The past

  • February 2017. I have been offered an EPSRC Early Career Fellowship.
  • January 2017. New preprint "Shaded tangles for the design and verification of quantum programs" (with David Reutter), describing new techniques for drawing quantum circuits as shaded tangles, so that circuit verification is just knot isotopy. We also give a new state transfer algorithm for a cluster-based quantum computer, give new constructions of error correcting codes based on unitary error bases, and identify surprising topological properties of the quarter-turn about the X-axis on the Bloch sphere.
  • December 2016. Globular has been loaded 10,000 times by 2,500 users!
  • November 2016. Paper on biunitary constructions (with David Reutter) accepted to QIP 2017, the top international quantum computing conference.
  • October 2016. New 112-page preprint "Data structures for quasistrict higher categories" (with Krzysztof Bar) gives the theoretical foundations for our proof assistant Globular , including a new definition of semistrict 4-category.
  • September 2016. New preprint "Biunitary constructions in quantum information" (with David Reutter.) Many new construction methods relating Hadamard matrices, unitary error bases, quantum Latin squares and controlled families, all illustrated with the graphical calculus for 2-categories.
  • August 2016. Public lecture "Our quantum future" at the University of Dalhousie, Halifax, Canada, introducing quantum computers and discussing the possible impact they might have on society.
  • July 2016. Invited lecturer for the  AARMS Summer School , University of Dalhousie, Halifax, Canada. I gave a 30-hour course on Categories, Quantum Computation and Topology to 30 excellent and motivated students, including a big practical component using Globular.
  • June 2016. The paper "The categorified Heisenberg algebra I: a combinatorial representation" (with Jeffrey Morton), describing a combinatorial interpretation of Khovanov's categorification of the Heisenberg algebra, accepted to appear in JPAA.
  • May 2016. New result (with Krzysztof Bar), formalized here: every adjunction in a semistrict 4-category can be promoted to satisfy the butterfly equations.
  • April 2016. Paper "Globular: a proof assistant for higher rewriting" (with Krzysztof Bar and Aleks Kissinger) accepted for FSCD 2016.
  • March 2016. Preprint "Tight reference frame–independent quantum teleportation" (with Dominic Verdon) available online, describing the first zero-overhead procedure for quantum teleportation without a shared reference frame. UPDATE: accepted for conference QPL 2016.
  • March 2016. Semistrict 4-categories are now supported by Globular.
  • January 2016. Preprint "Surface proofs for linear logic" (with Lawrence Dunn) available online, describing a coherence result for Frobenius pseudomonoids and swallowtailators, with applications to proof equivalence for linear logic. UPDATE: different parts of this work accepted for workshops HDRA 2016 and LINEARITY 2016.
  • December 2015. We are excited to announce the launch of  Globular  (with Krzysztof Bar and Aleks Kissinger), a new online proof assistant for higher category theory. UPDATE: Over 6000 views in 6 months since launch, and 236 person-hours of use!
  • November 2015. The proceedings of QPL 2016 (with Chris Heunen and Peter Selinger) are now available.
  • September 2015. Preprint "Modular categories as representations of the 3-dimensional bordism 2-category" (with Bruce Bartlett, Chris Douglas and Chris Schommer-Pries) available online, giving the first full proof that 3-dimensional topological quantum field theories are classified in terms of modular tensor categories.
  • April 2015. Preprint "Quantum Latin squares and unitary error bases" (with Benjamin Musto) now available, which introduces quantum Latin squares and shows how they can be used to construct new sorts of teleportation protocol. UPDATE: accepted for QIP 2016, the top annual quantum information conference. UPDATE: to appear in Quantum Information & Computation.

Recent talks

Other things

Here's some other things I'm doing at the moment.

  • I co-organize the Oxford Advanced Seminar in Informatic Structures (OASIS), with Chris HeunenClare Horsman, Aleks Kissinger and Sam Staton.
  • I'm part of the Centre for Quantum Mathematics and Computation (QMAC), an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Oxford's Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics departments.
  • I maintain two popular mailing lists, one for international quantum foundations announcements with over 950 subscribers, and another for quantum computing and quantum foundations events taking place in Oxford with around 100 subscribers. Please get in touch if you'd like to be added to either of these.
  • I am the lecturer for Categorical Quantum Mechanics (with Dan Marsden, and originally with Chris Heunen). These notes are being turned into a textbook with OUP, to be published soon.
  • I frequently supervise DPhil, MSc and undergraduate students on topics related to the mathematical foundations of quantum computing. If you'd like to work on a project with me, get in touch.


I did an undergraduate degree in Physics at Mansfield College, Oxford, followed by the Part III mathematics course at DAMTP and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. I then did a PhD in category theory and the foundations of quantum information with Chris Isham at Imperial College London, which was awarded in 2009. Since then I have been based in Oxford, becoming a Senior Research Fellow in 2013. In the period 2011-2014 I also held a Senior Research Fellow position at the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore.

Selected Publications

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Current Students

Past Student