34,654 reputation
358118
bio website math.mit.edu/~shor
location Cambridge, MA
age 55
visits member for 3 years, 10 months
seen 10 mins ago

I'm a professor in the Mathematics Dept. at M.I.T. I mostly work on quantum computation, quantum information, and quantum complexity, but I am also interested in other areas of theoretical computer science and mathematics.


15h
comment What do you call a house with a yard?
I would take a *"courtyard house" to be a house which has an interior courtyard (so it is surrounded on three or four sides by the house).
16h
revised Meaning of Goethe quote
added 2 characters in body
18h
revised Meaning of Goethe quote
added 247 characters in body
20h
comment What does “at X’s disposition” mean?
Between around 1840 and 1960, "at your disposition" seems to have been used as a synonym for "at your disposal" by a minority of people writing in English. See Ngram. When was this written?
22h
comment Allophones of /ə/
Are you sure that "lowered [ə]" isn't meant to be [ʌ] rather than [ɜ]? Take a look at the actual British vowel positions. That's not the right position for the strict IPA vowel [ʌ], but over the last century, in RP, /ʌ/ has moved from being back of /ɜː/ to below it, and nobody has changed the phoneme's symbol.
1d
comment Great Vowel Shift reversed. Is it appropriate? In what region this accent is typical?
@Janus: And in fact, I believe that many Americans (I do, at least) pronounce than as a better rhyme to ten or tin than to tan.
1d
comment What happened to voiced velar fricative [ɣ] and velar approximant [ɰ] in English language?
@Matt: Simplifying greatly, the OED says that the plural forms in Old English ended with a vowel after the 'g/h', and because of the phonetics of the sound change, this meant that the singular forms in Old English eventually became enough, while the plural forms in Old English eventually became enow. This distinction between enough in the singular and enow in the plural persisted into Early Modern English. (I never realized that enow and enough were different.)
1d
comment Possessives & Compound Construction
Neither of these is really misconstrueable.
2d
comment Why did the letter “o” disappear in the word “pronunciation”?
The relationship between these vowels is that, before the Great Vowel Shift, the MOUTH vowel was a long STRUT vowel, the WEIGHT vowel was a long BAD vowel, and so forth. And in the Great Vowel Shift, the long vowels were changed dramatically (and the short ones slightly), so that they are now phonetically quite distant from the corresponding short ones.
2d
comment Why is Dolge not a Christian name?
@CarSmack: Do you have an evidence that there a difference between baptismal name and first (and middle) name in England in the 19th century? And if there had been a finite list of approved first names, I very much doubt that "Chichester" would have been on it.
2d
comment Why is Dolge not a Christian name?
it could have been (and I strongly suspect it was) left entirely to the parish priest's discretion. "Mxyzptick" would never have been accepted, but I don't see why "Tim" couldn't have been. There are lots of real first names in the Victorian era which do not appear in the Bible, for example "Hilary" and "Graham".
2d
comment Why is Sean pronounced Shawn?
Isn't the accent on the a, and not the e?
2d
comment Why is Dolge not a Christian name?
In the time of Mr. Dickens, people had all sorts of "first names" which were unconventional. I don't believe there was a finite list of permissible names the way there is in some countries.
2d
comment Why is Dolge not a Christian name?
I don't think this has anything to do with English; maybe Victorian customs. I think the idea is that no sane parent would name their child Dolge. And if a priest had to approve the name, this could have indeed been an impossibility.
2d
comment Is asking for the “proper” use of the word “chemical” a case of linguistic prescriptivism?
... On the other hand, if you water the apple tree, you're applying a chemical.
2d
comment Is asking for the “proper” use of the word “chemical” a case of linguistic prescriptivism?
@Oddthinking: so a chemical substance is a form of matter that has constant chemical composition. If I interpret this properly, in the process of growing an organic apple, no chemical substances were ever created, since the biological processes involved never purified any chemicals. However, you can extract chemical substances from an apple by using chemical processing (just like you can extract metal from blood by using chemical processing).
2d
comment What is the origin of the phrase “bullet points”?
@ScotM. The Harvard Graphics reference says that it places the cursor to the right of the bullet, not to the right of the bullet point. The bullet point pressing Enter creates consists of a bullet and text to the right of it (to be typed by the user).
2d
comment Is asking for the “proper” use of the word “chemical” a case of linguistic prescriptivism?
What is the standard scientific definition of chemical? Do you have a dictionary that contains it? Is it the same as "molecule"? If so, why do scientists use two words for the same thing?
Dec
26
comment Difference between “larder” and “pantry”
You can see this from the etymology; larder and pantry are both from mediaeval French; lard (bacon) was kept in larders, while pain (bread) was kept in pantries. You need to keep meat cool, while bread stores fine at room temperature.
Dec
26
answered What does plate mean in “we're running you in two plates”?