Peter Shor

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Peter Shor
Shor in 2017
Born (1959-08-14) August 14, 1959 (age 64)
Alma mater
Known forShor's algorithm
Shor code
CSS code
SMAWK algorithm
Stabilizer code
Quantum threshold theorem
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science, applied mathematics
ThesisRandom planar matching and bin packing (1985)
Doctoral advisorTom Leighton

Peter Williston Shor (born August 14, 1959) is an American professor of applied mathematics at MIT. He is known for his work on quantum computation, in particular for devising Shor's algorithm, a quantum algorithm for factoring exponentially faster than the best currently-known algorithm running on a classical computer.

Early life and education[edit]

Shor was born in New York City to Joan Bopp Shor and S. W. Williston Shor.[10][11] He grew up in Washington, D.C. and Mill Valley, California.[10] While attending Tamalpais High School, he placed third in the 1977 USA Mathematical Olympiad.[12] After graduation that year, he won a silver medal at the International Math Olympiad in Yugoslavia (the U.S. team achieved the most points per country that year).[13][14] He received his B.S. in Mathematics in 1981 for undergraduate work at Caltech,[15] and was a Putnam Fellow in 1978. He earned his PhD in Applied Mathematics from MIT in 1985.[16] His doctoral advisor was F. Thomson Leighton, and his thesis was on probabilistic analysis of bin-packing algorithms.


After being awarded his PhD by MIT, he spent one year as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, and then accepted a position at Bell Labs in New Providence, New Jersey. It was there he developed Shor's algorithm. This development was inspired by Simon's problem, where he first solved the discrete log problem (which relates point-finding on a hypercube to a torus) and,

"Later that week, I was able to solve the factoring problem as well. There’s a strange relation between discrete log and factoring."[17]

Due to their similarity as HSP problems, Shor discovered a related factoring problem (Shor's algorithm) that same week for which he was awarded the Nevanlinna Prize at the 23rd International Congress of Mathematicians in 1998[18][19] and the Gödel Prize in 1999.[20] In 1999, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.[21] In 2017, he received the Dirac Medal of the ICTP and for 2019 the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences.[22]

Shor began his MIT position in 2003. Currently, he is the Henry Adams Morss and Henry Adams Morss, Jr. Professor of Applied Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics at MIT.[23] He also is affiliated with CSAIL.[24]

He received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Caltech in 2007.[15]

On October 1, 2011, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[25][26] He was elected as an ACM Fellow in 2019 "for contributions to quantum-computing, information theory, and randomized algorithms".[27] He was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2002.[28] In 2020, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering for pioneering contributions to quantum computation.[29]

In an interview published in Nature on October 30, 2020, Shor said that he considers post-quantum cryptography to be a solution to the quantum threat, although a lot of engineering effort is required to switch from vulnerable algorithms.[30]

Along with three others, Shor was awarded the 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for "foundational work in the field of quantum information."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Mathematical Association of America's William Lowell Putnam Competition". Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved February 12, 2007.
  2. ^ "Fields Medalists / Nevanlinna Price (sic) Winner 1998". International Mathematical Union. August 22, 2006. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
  3. ^ "Fellows List – July 1999". John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Archived from the original on September 28, 2006. Retrieved February 12, 2007.
  4. ^ Parberry, Ian (May 10, 1999). "1999 Gödel Prize". ACM SIGACT. Retrieved February 12, 2007.
  5. ^ "2002 King Faisal International Prizes for Science Announced". King Faisal Foundation.
  6. ^ "ICS Prize". Archived from the original on March 6, 2016.
  7. ^ Dirac Medal of ICTP 2017
  8. ^ List of IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award Recipients
  9. ^ a b Chu, Jennifer (September 22, 2022). "Peter Shor wins Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics". MIT News. Retrieved September 23, 2022.
  10. ^ a b Joan Shor Obituary.
  11. ^ '[1], Shor Family History
  12. ^ Murray Klamkin (Editor). Mathematical Association of America (January 1989). USA Mathematical Olympiads 1972–1986 Problems and Solutions (Anneli Lax New Mathematical Library), ISBN 0-88385-634-4 ISBN 978-0-88385-634-5, accessed May 10, 2007
  13. ^ Mill Valley Historical Society, 2004, 'History of Homestead Valley' Archived August 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Stephen R. Dunbar, 'Identifying Talent: American Mathematics Competitions,' in Mathematical Association of America, Focus, Vol 24, Issue 3, March 2004, p 29
  15. ^ a b "2007 Recipients". Distinguished Alumni Award. Caltech Alumni Association. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2010.
  16. ^ Shor, Peter Williston (September 1985). Random Planar Matching and Bin Packing (Ph.D. thesis). MIT. OCLC 14107348.
  17. ^ Shor, Peter W. (August 21, 2022). "The Early Days of Quantum Computation". arXiv:2208.09964 [quant-ph].
  18. ^ Jackson, Allyn (November 1998). "Peter Shor Receives Nevanlinna Prize" (PDF). Notices of the AMS: 1361.
  19. ^ Shor, Peter (1998). "Quantum computing". Doc. Math. (Bielefeld) Extra Vol. ICM Berlin, 1998, vol. I. pp. 467–486.
  20. ^ Parberry, Ian (May 10, 1999). "1999 Gödel Prize — Peter W. Shor".
  21. ^ Peter W. Shor – Computer Science, Class of 1999, MacArthur Foundation
  22. ^ BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award 2019
  23. ^ "Department of Mathematics Faculty and Teaching Staff". Catalog. MIT. Retrieved May 19, 2024.
  24. ^ "Peter Shor". People. MIT CSAIL. Retrieved May 19, 2024.
  25. ^ Academy Members: 1780–present (PDF). Cambridge, Massachusetts: American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 2011. p. 502.
  26. ^ "2011 Members and Their Affiliations" (PDF). American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 19, 2012. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  27. ^ 2019 ACM Fellows Recognized for Far-Reaching Accomplishments that Define the Digital Age, Association for Computing Machinery, retrieved December 11, 2019
  28. ^ "Peter Shor". Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  29. ^ "Dr. Peter W. Shor". NAE Website. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  30. ^ Castelvecchi, Davide (2020). "Quantum-computing pioneer warns of complacency over Internet security". Nature. 587 (7833): 189. Bibcode:2020Natur.587..189C. doi:10.1038/d41586-020-03068-9. PMID 33139910. S2CID 226243008.

External links[edit]

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