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Distinguished Professor Peter Drummond

Research Centre Director, Quantum and Optical Science
PhD, Waikato University, New Zealand; A.M., Harvard University, United States; B. Sc (Hons), Auckland University, New Zealand


Professor Drummond was educated at Auckland and Waikato University (NZ), and Harvard University in the USA. He was an academic at Auckland and Queensland Universities, and a researcher at Rochester University,  IBM Research Laboratories (USA), and NTT Basic Research Laboratories (Japan). He has also been a  visiting professor at Waikato University (NZ), Erlangen University, Heidelberg University, Ecole Normale Superieure (France), the Weizmann Institute for Science, Harvard University, and the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (USA). He is a University Distinguished Professor and Science Director of the Center for Quantum and Optical Science at Swinburne University of Technology. He is currently Divisional Associate Editor for Physical Review Letters, the most cited journal in physics.

He has published  260 research papers  in refereed journals, with 16500 Google scholar citations, and a Hirsch h-index of 67, as well as a co-authored and an edited research textbook. A public domain software package, XMDS, for stochastic differential equations (maintained at ANU) has had over 40,000 downloads, with a second package, xSPDE, now publicly available on github. A central research theme is the dynamics of many-body quantum systems. This is a challenging frontier in theoretical physics, often thought to be computationally intractable.

Drummond developed the positive-P phase-space representation, leading to the first exact stochastic equations for bosonic (integer spin) quantum fields. The results have been experimentally verified in numerous experiments around the world, including a co-authored front cover paper in Nature. This work is now featured in several texts as the preferred technique for exact computer simulations in large quantum optical systems. This was applied to non-equilibrium phase-transitions, including the first three-dimensional quantum theory of superfluorescence, which led to the discovery of a new laser: the superfluorescent mode-locked laser, that has been experimentally demonstrated.

The first exact simulation methods for quantum fields were obtained using these techniques, which were tested in quantum soliton squeezing experiments at IBM, MIT and the Max-Planck Institute. Quantum phase-space methods were shown to be applicable to ultra-cold atomic physics, including both integer spin bosons and half-integer spin fermions. This has been applied to the important Bose-Hubbard model and to the first exact computational simulations for the formation of a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). Quantum collisions of unprecedented numbers of 150,000 atoms in a milllion modes hhave been simulated. His predictions of atom interferometer quantum noise, were tested and confirmed in an SUT experiment having the world's longest coherence time for any BEC interferometer.

In fundamental tests of quantum physics, he obtained the first macroscopic, multi-particle Bell inequality, which was verified experimentally at Oxford. Work on quantitative tests for the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) paradox led to the first experiments testing Einstein's original ideas, at Caltech, as well as the world’s first Bell inequality for continuous variables, and a new quantum uncertainty principle for spin, with applications to improved  interferometry and precision measurement, confirmed experimentally in Barcelona. His current work is on: quantum simulations of entanglement and steering in optomechanics and superconducting quantum circuits, quantum computers, the foundations of quantum mechanics and quantum measurements, as well as an analog quantum computer for the early universe, and novel computational algorithms for stochastic equations, stochastic bridges and forward-backward stochastic equations.

Research interests

Scientific Computing and Visualisation; Ultracold Quantum Gases; Ultrafast Laser Science and Spectroscopy; Quantum information; GPU and advanced HPC algorithms

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

Optimizing Ising machine hardware through simulations: The Ising machine is a novel type of large-scale quantum computer, which solves NP-hard problems with large potential impact in many practical applications. Quantum simulations of Ising machine operation will be carried out in a joint program with the new NTT Corporation Phi laboratory in San Jose, together with Stanford. This project will be to work with a team to optimize hardware protocols.

Quantum entanglement in planar nano-mechanical systems: Nano-mechanics is an exciting opportunity in quantum physics, with macroscopic mechanical oscillators being cooled to the quantum ground state. First principles simulations of nanomechanical entanglement have been carried out and verified experimentally. This project will extend these simulations to study a new system: an extended array of nano-mechanical oscillators coupled to a planar cavity.

Quantum limits of ultra-cold plasma dynamics: What is the quantum behaviour of an ultra-cold fermionic plasma? This project will investigate fermionic plasma dynamics in the quantum regime. The issues are to understand the coupling between the plasma components of different masses, to calculate in which regimes screening occurs, and how quantum fluctuations change this. This will involve development of novel fermionic phase-space theory.

Quantum paradoxes in a reality model: This project will analyse a novel proposal for a model of quantum reality and quantum measurement, that is based on phase-space representations and retro-causal trajectories in space-time. The goal of the thesis is to analyse multiple quantum paradoxes including: EPR paradoxes, Bell violations, Wigner's friend, delayed choice, contextuality, and macroscopic Leggett-Garg paradoxes.

Speeding up xSPDE with GPU code: This project is to design and implement efficient GPU integration modules for xSPDE, a public domain stochastic integration program that integrates a range of stochastic partial differential equations. The project will evaluate the best high-level language to use, comparing Julia and Matlab, and also compare different GPU implementations. The focus is to develop a high-level implementation.

Stochastic bridges and reversible stochastic processes: The most challenging problem in quantum theory is the treatment of reversible, unitary evolution, in large interacting systems. The new methodology to be investigated here is the stochastic bridge: a stochastic process with defined end-points in the past and in the future. This allows time to be treated in a reversible way, thus creating a new conceptual approach to quantum dynamics.

Fields of Research

  • Degenerate Quantum Gases And Atom Optics - 510801


  • 2019, International, Weston Visiting Professor, Weizmann Institute of Science
  • 2019, International, JILA Visiting Fellow, University of Colorado
  • 2019, International, Charles Hard Townes Distinguished Lecturer Award , Texas A&M University
  • 2018, International, Visiting Scholar Award, Harvard University
  • 2013, Swinburne, Vice-Chancellor's Research Excellence Award, Swinburne University of Technology
  • 2009, International, Visiting Professor, Heidelberg University
  • 2008, National, Boas medal , Australian Institute of Physics
  • 2007, International, Visiting Professor, Ecole Normale Superieure
  • 2007, National, Moyal medal , Macquarie University
  • 2004, National, Massey medal, Australian Institute of Physics
  • 2003, National, Academy Fellow, The Australian Academy of Science
  • 2002, International, Forschungspreis, Senior Research Award, German Humboldt Society
  • 2001, National, Fellow, The Australian Institute of Physics
  • 2000, International, Fellow, The American Physical Society
  • 1972, Other, Teaching Fellow, Harvard University
  • 1971, International, Fulbright Scholar, United States of America
  • 1971, International, Frank Knox Fellow, Harvard University
  • 1970, National, Postgraduate Scholar, New Zealand
  • 1970, Other, Physics Prize, Auckland University


Also published as: Drummond, Peter; Drummond, P. D.; Drummond, Peter D.
This publication listing is provided by Swinburne Research Bank. If you are the owner of this profile, you can update your publications using our online form.

Recent research grants awarded

  • 2023: From quantum foundations to cosmological models *; John Templeton Foundation
  • 2019: NTT - Swinburne University Joint Research Project *; NTT Research Inc
  • 2019: Simulation of exponentially complex quantum technologies *; ARC Discovery Projects Scheme
  • 2018: Australian Quantum Gas Microscope *; ARC Linkage Infrastructure and Equipment Scheme
  • 2018: Interdisciplinary studies of many-body quantum dynamics *; Tel Aviv University - Swinburne Research Collaboration Awards
  • 2015: Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Victoria India Doctoral Scholarships Program scholarship *; Victoria India Doctoral Scholarships Program
  • 2008: Dynamics and correlations of many-body systems *; ARC Discovery Projects Scheme
  • 2003: ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Atom Optics *; ARC Centre of Excellence Scheme

* Chief Investigator

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