Charles H. Bennett  Charles H. Bennett photo         

contact information

IBM Fellow
Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY USA


BIOGRAPHY of CHARLES H. BENNETT June 2020.  Charles H. Bennett was born in 1943, the son of music teachers Anne Wolfe Bennett and Boyd Bennett. He graduated from Croton-Harmon High School in 1960 and from Brandeis University, majoring in chemistry, in 1964. He received his PhD from Harvard in 1971 for molecular dynamics studies (computer simulation of molecular motion) under David Turnbull and Berni Alder. For the next two years he continued this research under the late Aneesur Rahman at Argonne Laboratory. Since coming to IBM Reseach in 1972, he has worked on various aspects of the relation between physics and information. In 1973, building on the work of IBM's Rolf Landauer, he showed that general-purpose computation can be performed by a logically and thermodynamically reversible apparatus, which can operate with arbitrarily little energy dissipation per step because it avoids throwing away information about past logical states; and in 1982 he proposed a reinterpretation of Maxwell's demon, attributing its inability to break the second law to the thermodynamic cost of destroying, rather than acquiring, information. In 1979, he explored the thermodynamics of error-correction in a model of RNA transcription with and without proofreading, and in 1985 with IBM's Geoff Grinstein he showed why dissipation qualitatively stabilizes long-term memory in locally interacting systems.  In 1984, with Gilles Brassard of the University of Montréal, building on Stephen Wiesner's seminal insights, developed a practical system of quantum cryptography, allowing secure communication between parties who share no secret information initially, with security based on the laws of quantum mechnaics instead of usual computational assumptions such as the difficulty of factoring, and with the help of their students a built a working demonstration of it in 1989.   Other research interests include algorithmic information theory, in which the concepts of information and randomness are developed in terms of the input/output relation of universal computers, and the analogous use of universal computers to define the intrinsic complexity or "logical depth" of a physical state as the time required by a universal computer to simulate the the evolution of the state from a random initial state.  In 1993 Bennett and Brassard, in collaboration with Claude Crépeau, Richard Jozsa, Asher Peres, and William Wootters, discovered "quantum teleportation," an effect in which the complete information in an unknown quantum state is decomposed into purely classical information and purely non-classical Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) correlations, sent through two separate channels, and later reassembled in a new location to produce an exact replica of the original quantum state that was destroyed in the sending process. In 1995-7, working with Smolin, Wootters, IBM's David DiVincenzo, and other collaborators, he helped found the quantitative theory of entanglement and introduced several techniques for faithful transmission of classical and quantum information through noisy channels. With Devetak, Harrow, Shor, Smolin, Thapliyal and Winter, in 2002 and 2014, he established the classical and quantum "reverse Shannon theorems", which hold that classical (resp. quantum) channels can efficiently simulate another in the presence of shared randomness (resp. enganglement).  He is an IBM Fellow, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Widowed and remarried, he has a large family, including seven grandchildren of his late wife.  His main hobbies are photography and music.