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Friday, March 22, 2002

  • Institute 'beyond traditional boundaries'
  • Construction begins on Renison residence
  • Waterloo's a happening place
  • Project seeks $500,000 for Iraq
Chris Redmond

The New Yorker: Blame Canada

Institute 'beyond traditional boundaries'

A proposed new Institute for Quantum Computing at UW is an "exciting" idea, not to mention a big one, according to a report from the vice-president (university research).

He'll be asking for approval from the university senate on Monday. Research to be done through the centre has already been promised several million dollars in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and other agencies, and two key researchers have received Canada Research Chairs with federal funding.

Those key people are the proposed director -- [Laflamme] Raymond Laflamme (left), who arrived from Los Alamos National Laboratory last fall to take up appointments at both UW and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics -- and Michele Mosca of the combinatorics and optimization department, tabbed to be deputy director.

"To commence operation," says the proposal that's on its way to senate, "the Institute will use existing laboratory space in the Physics, Chemistry, and C&O departments. This will be sufficient for the first five years of the Institute. It is expected that, as more people are hired, much extra space will be needed after this period. IQC will investigate possibilities to find funding to construct a building dedicated to quantum information processing."

The report gives this background about the proposed IQC and the kind of work it'll do:

"Information processing devices are pervasive in our society, from satellite networks to watches. They have not only changed the structure of the economy but also the way we do science and communicate. Anybody who uses computers realizes that they are never as fast as we would like them to be. To make computers faster, the industry has relentlessly miniaturized transistors. In the mid sixties Greg Moore, then chairman of Intel Corporation, noticed that the size of transistors was shrinking by roughly a factor of two every eighteen months. There is no obvious reason why this empirical rule, called Moore's law, should be obeyed. However it has been obeyed during the seventies, eighties and even the nineties. If one makes the assumption that it will also be true for the next 15-20 years, transistors will become of size of atoms and they will enter the world of quantum mechanics. Entering this world will not only allow us to keep on computing the way we have done for the last 50 years but more importantly allows new computing possibilities unimaginable to their classical counterpart.

"Quantum information processing is an exciting new emergent field. Its interdisciplinary nature makes it a project that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of a university. It combines questions of national security (when will today's public key cryptography be broken?) to questions of fundamental science (what are the fundamental limits to information processing?). It has thrived through the collaboration between/among the computer, engineering and physical sciences. It is a field that is challenging our understanding of information, communication, computation, and of the fundamental laws of nature. An Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) is an ideal match to the University of Waterloo, taking advantage of its historical roots in computing and its present expertise in mathematics, computer and physical sciences to tackle problems of the future.

"The mission of the IQC is to advance fundamental experimental and theoretical knowledge in relevant areas of Engineering, Mathematics and Science (EMS) to enhance the developments in the field of Quantum Computation and Information Processing. This is to be achieved by providing a unique facility and environment to bring together some of the best researchers and students in computer science, engineering, mathematics and physical sciences. UW has presently six researchers in the field and the IQC expects to hire six more, to become a world leader in this field in the next five years."

Construction begins on Renison residence

A groundbreaking ceremony is to be held at noon today for a new residence wing at Renison College. [Architect's drawing] The $4-million project will include a 50-bed residence, with single and double occupancy rooms bringing the total number of residence spaces to 222 at the college.

The new residence will be open for students by January 2003 -- well timed as UW prepares for an increase in enrolment with the double-cohort group looking for admission in the fall of 2003.

Also included in the project is an expansion to the present dining hall and renovations to kitchen facilities. A new menu with individual food stations will allow students to choose from a variety of dining options, Renison leaders say.

The architect and engineer for the project is The Walter Fedy Partnership and the general contractor is Melloul-Blamey Construction Ltd. Work is starting immediately with completion of the dining and kitchen facilities for September 2002 and occupancy of the residence wing by January 2003.

Among the weekend's events

Presentations of year-long design projects by systems design engineering students continue from 10:00 to 4:00 today in Davis Centre room 1302.

Philosophy professor Jennifer Ashworth will speak at 2:30 this afternoon on "Singular Terms and Singular Concepts: Some Medieval Discussions of Proper Names". Location: Humanities room 373.

Also at 2:30, the psychology department presents a talk by Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto: "Self-Deception as a Sin of Omission". Location: PAS room 2083.

A reception in honour of dean's honours list students in the faculty of arts will be held from 4:00 to 6:00 this afternoon in the Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

The "Starmaker Dance Competition" has the Humanities Theatre booked for the weekend.

Saturday night's talk by Stephen Lewis, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Project Ploughshares and being held at The Cedars on Beechwood Drive, is a sellout.

A celebration of the life of Les Roberts, who died January 16, will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at Henry Walser Funeral Home on Frederick Street in Kitchener. Roberts coached athletes for most of his life, and after a period at UW as a student, was involved with the university's track and cross-country teams in the 1970s.

Monday morning brings the President's Circle "breakfast seminar" in South Campus Hall, with special speaker Stu McGill of the kinesiology department. The event is part of the donor recognition program for some of UW's top individual givers.

[Crucible scene]

The drama department's production of "The Crucible Project" continues tonight and tomorrow night at 8:00 in the Theatre of the Arts, Modern Languages building. Ticket information: 888-4908.

Waterloo's a happening place

Three of UW's musical ensembles will give their end-of-term concerts this weekend. First comes the stage band, which presents "End-of-Term Jazz" at 8:00 tonight at the chapel of Conrad Grebel University College. Then Sunday afternoon, it's the UW Choir with "Made in Canada: A Celebration of Canadian Music", at 3:00 in Knox Presbyterian Church, downtown Waterloo. Finally, Sunday evening brings "Requiem" by the Chamber Choir, at 7:30 p.m. at St. John the Evangelist Church in central Kitchener. Tickets for each of the concerts are $8, students and seniors $5, at the door.

Now here's a word from Albert O'Connor, math student and DJ Phat Albert, who says last fall's "Electronica" night in the Math and Computer building was such a success that it's being done all over again -- tonight, in MC rooms 3001 and 3002. "I have even more performers to showcase their skills," he says, "for anyone who is interested." He's promising "six straight hours of UW's own electronica artists playing House, Jungle, Trance, Hardcore, Breaks, Drum 'n' Bass, and more. Come on out and find out what electronic music is all about!" (No promise of "knob frobbering madness" as there was back in November, though, I notice.) The event is free.

[Juggler] UW's tenth annual Juggling Festival will be held Saturday and Sunday in the Student Life Centre. Scheduled hours are 10 to 10 tomorrow, 10 to 5 on Sunday. Math student Joe West tells more: "Open juggling runs continuously throughout the festival, except during the show. Workshops and games will be mostly on the Saturday afternoon. There will be an open show in the main juggling space starting at 8 p.m. on the Saturday night. We'll likely be raffling off some nifty prizes during the show; don't forget to buy your tickets. Our friends from Higgins Brothers will be there selling yummy juggling props. More details will be posted as decisions are made, assuming we don't just make it all up at the last minute. How much does it cost? Nothing . . . absolutely nothing! (to make up for the fact that much of the organizing will be done at the last minute!)"

People have been asking about the traffic light, still swathed in black plastic, that's been hanging for months over University Avenue where the railway tracks and the Laurel Trail cross it just east of campus. It's an IPS, or Interactive Pedestrian Signal, says a note from the Region of Waterloo in response to my inquiry, and putting it into operation "has been held up due to negotiations with CN Rail. However, the Region of Waterloo has obtained all necessary approvals and will be completing the remainder of the underground work in April. The anticipated turn-on of the traffic signals is late April or early May." The idea is that it'll turn red for University Avenue traffic when a pedestrian on the trail, or just wanting to cross the street, pushes a button; it'll also stop traffic when one of the infrequent trains comes along the track.

There clearly are a lot of gardeners on campus. The Employee Assistance Program sent out a flyer the other day announcing a noon-hour session next Tuesday: "Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring". And before I even had a chance to mention it in the Daily Bulletin, the responses were flooding in to the point that the room (Davis Centre 1302) was full, says Johan Reis of the EAP. He reports that people whose registrations arrived in time will be getting a confirmation notice; others will be placed on a waiting list for a possible repeat session, yet to be scheduled. [Lumsden]

And . . . Bruce Lumsden (right), UW's director of co-op education and career services, has been named this year's winner of the Dean Herman Schneider Award from the Cooperative Education & Internship Association. Says a memo from the association: "Bruce is a fine colleague, an outstanding and respected leader of our professional community, and an exemplary recipient of the Dean Herman Schneider Award. . . . Bruce was nominated by the University of Waterloo, and received support from numerous excellent colleagues, including previous Schneider and Tyler Award recipients. Bruce was chosen from a field of five candidates by the CEIA Awards Committee composed of seven representatives from the US and Canada." The citation adds that the UW program, which he heads, is "the largest, and perhaps the finest, cooperative education program in the world". Lumsden will receive his award at the CEIA convention in Albuquerque next month.

Project seeks $500,000 for Iraq

The first major event of "Project Iraq", based at UW and aimed at helping the suffering people of Iraq in the face of international economic sanctions, will be held Sunday, says the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group.

Says their news release: "University students, with the help of community members, in response to the devastation in Iraq caused by bombing and sanctions, are embarking on a mission to raise $500,000 worth of medical supplies and essentials to alleviate the suffering."

It goes on to explain that Project Iraq "works with NGOs in Iraq as well as International relief and development agencies to ensure that these donations that are collected will meet the needs of the people of Iraq. Money will be raised through donations, special events, and presentations to schools, mosques, churches, and hospitals to purchase the necessary supplies. As well, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and other organizations will be approached to donate medicine and other supplies.

"It is hoped that this humanitarian work will be accomplished before the end of May, an ambitious time frame, but the people of Iraq are in dire need right now. Sanctions have severely crippled the Iraqi economy and over 1.5 million men, women, and children have already died in the past 11 years. The food, school, and medical supplies that will be raised and sent to Iraq are needed immediately and the dedicated volunteers of Project Iraq intend to meet their needs."

The project, headed by arts student Gloria Ichim, was organized in January to try to provide humanitarian aid."There are many groups that are trying to raise awareness about the sanctions on Iraq," says the group's announcement, "and many others that petition their governments to stop these sanctions. While this type of work is sincere and in many cases deserves praise, it does not put food on the table nor medicine in the hospitals, of the people of Iraq. There are only a handful of groups that actually deliver any sizeable quantity of food to Iraq. This is why there is a real need for Project Iraq. . . .

"Our plan puts us in contact with ambassadors, pharmaceutical companies, politicians, community activists, schools, and a range of other groups and individuals. We don't embark on this project for personal satisfaction or reference on resume. There are no pretenses of good will. We have decided on this plan, simply because we have been moved by the plight of our brothers and sisters in Iraq. We know that we have access to great resources and we will therefore do all we can to make the best possible use of these resources to achieve our goal."

The project's first major event will be a fund-raising dinner Sunday starting at 6:00 in rooms 2034 and 2066 of the Math and Computer building. There will be films and speakers about Iraq, the news release says.



March 22, 1996: St. Paul's College hosts "a Lenten forum on the social safety net", as controversy builds over cuts to public spending in Ontario.

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