I was very fortunate to have been blessed with an excellent set of mentors and friends. To them, I convey my heartfelt gratitude. I came to Waterloo scared and unsure, having just completed my undergraduate and travelling abroad for the first time in my life. I come out a little more confident in my abilities as a researcher, having spent two very memorable years of my life here. Although this section is shorter in length to the other ones and does not have mathematical equations of interest to scientists, it captures one of the most important components of my journey: the human component.
There are many who helped me make the last two years of my life joyful. Of them, the most important influence was, undoubtedly, my supervisor John Watrous. John was a father-figure who was always there, through my highs and lows. I knew very little, if anything, about quantum computing when I came to Waterloo. John taught me like a parent teaches someone how to ride a bike. Whenever I tumbled, I knew John was there to immediately lend me a hand. He had infinite patience for my silly questions about research, for my philosophical musings about life, and for everything in between. He is an excellent human being, a near perfect supervisor, an excellent lecturer, and an excellent researcher. His truly fascinating mathematical insights, for even the most abstract equations, are matched by his equally amazing sense of humour. Watching John teach is like watching a Wes Anderson movie; with the auteur in complete control of his craft, the experience is wholesome and you come out feeling content. John will always be so much more than an academic mentor for me, and I was fortunate enough to have ever met him. To shamelessly borrow a quote from one of his students on ratemyprofessors, “He is quite possibly the ruler of the universe…in disguise.”
I am also grateful to many other mentors whom I met along my journey. Of them, I am very thankful to David Gosset. David was always a knock-on-the-door away from anything I wanted to ask. He was kind enough to let me attend his group meetings, friendly enough to always have time for a chat in the atrium, and patient enough to always entertain my research-ideas, which were often half-baked and not very coherent. Fridays will never be the same without his group meetings. I had many inspiring interactions with David. It is not hard to gauge from them that he is a great researcher, an amazing mentor, and a true “friend, guide, and philosopher” to his students.
There are two others I have to specifically thank for always being there for me. One of them is Matthew Coudron, with whom I had countless hours of discussions, often over gourmet buffet dinner at St Jerome’s. The other is Jamie Sikora, who is one of the friendliest and most energetic researchers I have ever met, and someone I could talk to for hours about anything from QMA(2) to animated Batman movies. They are both wonderful people and great researchers. My deep thanks to both of them for helping me grow as a researcher and also for treating me as a friend. My experience would have been so much duller without them.
Besides research, I am grateful to Rajibul Islam to let me be a part of “bigyan”. Popularizing science in Bengali is an extremely noble initiative. I hope his endeavour continues to inspire many more students, like me.
Just like mentors, I was blessed to have an equally fantastic set of friends at IQC. My very special thanks to Aditya and Karen. I cannot imagine how life must have been if I had not met you guys. From research to everything else on earth, there’s probably nothing we did not talk about. I will always cherish the very colourful memories: from sweating the assignments out in John’s course, debating philosophy and world politics far past bedtime, to doing karaoke, meeting Scott, roaming in Vancouver, and so much more. Thanks for always being there and hope to have many more memories!
There are many others at IQC who made my life joyful. In no particular order, thanks to Lane, Ian, Supratik, and Vinodh. They are friends whom I will always treasure as a source of support. I will miss Lane’s rollicking sense of humour and Ian’s perspicacious wisdom. I will miss the discussions, often deep and personal, with both of them, about life and research! I will miss chugging beers with Vinodh at monthly gatherings, and going down in the elevator and talking to Supratik about anything at all, anytime I felt I needed someone to talk to. I also miss sneaking up on free food at IQC conferences with a subset of them, during different times of the year. I hope Lane, Ian, and Supratik turn out to be amazing researchers, and Vinodh finds his perfect job in the industry.
There are many in John’s group who deserve special mention. Thanks to Colin for countless hours of discussions, often futile but always fun, about life and research, and for being a great friend throughout! Thanks to Abel for being a source of infinite wisdom about life, research, graduate school, and beyond, for being someone I could talk to for hours about shared interests like politics, and for being a wonderful TA. Thanks to Sanketh for entertaining my extremely silly questions whenever I asked them, and for good memories from the trip to Toronto!
I am just as thankful to others I met at parties, monthly gatherings, pizza nights, and movie nights. Thanks to Dan for always driving me around Waterloo and for fun memories at Sherbrooke! Thanks to Jimmy for enlivening my stay at Sherbrooke! Thanks to Nicky for agonizing over grad school and grad school rejections together and for very interesting discussions during cookie time! Thanks to Shima and Meenu for being wonderful officemates! Thanks to Rahul and Vadiraj, for very cordially inviting me to their home countless times, for everything from poetry sessions and movie nights to carrom matches and Diwali parties! I will miss the walk home, in the middle of the night, from Albert Street to Cedarvale.
Just like my friends at IQC, I will miss my friends in Computer Science. Thanks to Sushant for being a great friend and a great roommate in Toronto! Thanks to Zeynep for our extremely refreshing discussions over lunch or coffee!
I was blessed with amazing roommates, who made my stay much more pleasurable than it would have been, especially during the pandemic. Thanks to Rishiraj for helping me out when I knew nothing about Canada or Waterloo, and for being witness to many happy memories in the house for one year. Thanks to Saptarshi, whom I have known for seven years now, right from high school. I have not, and probably will not meet, someone with more expertise in movies who’s also a brilliant researcher and a great friend. Thanks to Manas for being like an elder brother, right from the very day I met him at IQC, and for his infectious love of all things scientific. I hope I imbibed some of it from him. Thanks to Sourya, for being one of the most versatile and most talented persons I have ever met, with wide-ranging interests in research, in film-making, in drama, in recitation, and in singing. I will miss our colourful banter, our debates, and so much more. All of you made me feel like home thousands of miles away from home. Our house at Cedarvale was the witness to many wonderful memories, from watching movies together, to going to groceries together, cooking together (which I mostly made a mess of!), and having countless discussions about everything under the sun. I will miss you all wherever I am.
I am also grateful to my friends from undergraduate. I am grateful to Arnab, for being a friend who always lent the listening ear, for introducing me to quantum computing in the first place, for having so many memories during undergraduate including doing research together, and also for showing me around in Vancouver. I am grateful to Shomik, for being understanding and for putting up with me for all these years. I am grateful to Dripta, Purbesh, and Pijush, for being amazing friends, through thick and thin. Thanks to Debanjan for fun memories whenever I returned home and for endless discussions over social media. Thanks to Henry for staying in touch for four years, even after being geographically separated across two different continents, for extremely insightful discussions that enriched me as an academic and as a person, and for great memories from the visit to London! Even though it has been two years since my undergraduate, I will always be indebted to all of these people for their invaluable friendship.
Finally, I must thank my parents, without whom none of this would have been possible. It was hard for them to have me leave home for the first time, but they never showed it and never stopped supporting me, through happy and tumultuous times. They made great sacrifices so that I can be where I am, and I am forever grateful to them for their unconditional love. This thesis is as much theirs as it is mine.
The dissertation can be accessed here.