34,936 reputation
358119
bio website math.mit.edu/~shor
location Cambridge, MA
age 55
visits member for 3 years, 11 months
seen 3 hours 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.


6h
comment Is it acceptable to use “is become” instead of “has become”?
In "he is gone", "gone" is an adjective, as in "he is tired" or "he is hungry". Since "become" cannot be an adjective, "he is become" is archaic.
12h
comment Is there an etymological relation between the words “exorcism” and “sorcery”?
And going back to the proto-IndoEuropean, the best etymologies I can find online are that the Greek orkos (meaning oath) is related to Greek erkos, meaning to fence, limit, which comes from proto-Indo-European serk-, meaning to tie together; while sorcery comes proto-Indo-European ser-, meaning "to line up". So if they're related, it's pre-proto-Indo-European.
13h
comment When should I use “a” versus “an” in front of a word beginning with the letter S?
Unless you're speaking with a heavy Spanish accent, you should use "a".
16h
comment Is a syllable defined phonetically or etymologically?
@Dan: I don't believe I have ever heard anybody use two syllables for church in the middle of a phrase, as in "The chur ch stands by the lake." But I agree that most people probably reduce some of the consonants in the "rchst".
16h
comment Is a syllable defined phonetically or etymologically?
@Dan: How about "The church stands by the lake." I still think that's 6 syllables. Is that "The chur chstands by the lake"?
16h
comment Is a syllable defined phonetically or etymologically?
@Dan: but I bet you say "the church is by the lake" with 6 syllables and not 7. It's only when "church" is the last word in a phrase that you can possibly think of giving it two syllables. That's why it should count as a one-syllable word.
16h
comment Is a syllable defined phonetically or etymologically?
@FumbleFingers: we're getting off-topic, but the two-syllable pronunciation of temporary sounds very British to me. In temporary, military, and so forth, Americans put secondary stress on the ar syllable. Americans pronounce temporary with either three (temprary) or four syllables
16h
comment Pronoun for meat: it or some?
It's not just because "meat" is an uncountable noun. "I like Golden Retrievers. Can I get them?" sounds wrong, too (unless some specific Golden Retrievers are already under discussion).
16h
comment Pronoun for meat: it or some?
This doesn't sound wrong just because meat is an uncountable noun. The sentences "I like guinea pigs. Can I have them for pets." sounds wrong, too. You need to use some because you are transitioning from talking about guinea pigs in general, to talking about a few specific guinea pigs.
1d
comment Is “church” one syllable or two?
So does that mean churchyard, churchmen, matchbook, and hatchling are three syllables? This is the problem with allotting two syllables to church and match.
Jan
28
comment “hereby referred to” or “hereafter referred to”?
Why are you changing the names of your variables in the first place? Are you trying to confuse the reader?
Jan
28
comment For statements using the following words/phrases
What a terrible exercise; (1) has two good answers, and (2) has none.
Jan
28
comment Looking for a word for a slavery “contract”
If you're looking for a euphemism, why not indentured servitude? It's actually not indentured servitude, because it's not voluntary, but has inaccuracy ever stopped people from using euphemisms?
Jan
28
comment fun - part of speech
Fun didn't use to be an adjective. The original 1828 Webster's dictionary has "FUN, noun Sport; vulgar merriment. A low word." The first Webster's International (1892) has "fun, n. Sport; merriment." This is probably why we say more fun and not funner, and why "it's very fun" sounds wrong.
Jan
28
comment Using “it's” instead of “it is”
@SrJoven: You're right; "difficult" is not an object but a subject complement. But the rule that you can't contract it because the complement is preposed still holds. You can't say "see how difficult it's", "See how difficult to implement it's", or "See how difficult it's to implement". You have to use "it is" in all three cases.
Jan
28
comment Culinary language: “closhe”
How about “dish-cover”? Lewis Carroll wrote: “ ... ‘Take the dish-cover up!’ Ah, that is so hard that I fear I’m unable! For it holds it like glue — Holds the lid to the dish, while it lies in the middle: Which is easiest to do, Un-dish-cover the fish, or dishcover the riddle?”
Jan
27
comment Sift and Sieve definition
@GEdgar: Which Oxford English Dictionary are you looking at? The online one has the verb sieve.
Jan
27
comment How would I instruct a reader to push a button with an ellipsis at the end?
Why can't you just call it the "Action button"? If you have an Action button and an Action ... button, you might want to rethink your user interface. Otherwise, I can't imagine anybody getting confused by your not mentioning the ellipsis.
Jan
27
comment What is the accepted stance on using “they” in a singular form?
So I see you've changed your opinion on Shakespeare's "they knock". I certainly wouldn't object to "the murderer went to great lengths to conceal their tracks" today, but I'm not sure that classic writers would have used it. On the other hand, I think "whoever committed this murder went to great lengths to conceal their tracks" would have been fine.
Jan
27
comment 'whereabouts' is / are
If the plural of "whereabouts" is "whereabouts", it's perfectly grammatical. Consider "His itinerary is unknown" vs. "Their itineraries are unknown." And the dictionary says "whereabouts" is singular or plural (so "His whereabouts are ..." would be grammatical, too).