Curriculum Vitae

Name:Dr. Markus Paul Müller
Marital status:Happily married, proud father of Joseph (*2019) and Eleni (*2022).
since 07/2017
Research Group Leader (tenured since 07/2022), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum
Information (IQOQI) Vienna. Visiting Fellow, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Canada.
07/2015 – 06/2017Assistant Professor (tenure track) and Canada Research Chair in the Foundations of Physics, Departments of Applied Mathematics and
Philosophy, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. Associate Faculty member, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
09/2013 – 05/2015Junior Research Group Leader, Institute for Theoretical Physics, Heidelberg University, Germany.
11/2010 – 08/2013Postdoctoral fellow, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Canada.
10/2007 – 09/2008Postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Leipzig (on leave from my position at TU Berlin).
11/2004 – 10/2010Research Assistant (“Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter”), Institute of Mathematics, Technical University of Berlin, Germany.
11/2021Habilitation, University of Vienna, venia docendi in Theoretical Physics.
Title of thesis: Reconstructions of Quantum Theory.
09/2007Dr. rer. nat., Technical University of Berlin, with distinction (summa cum laude).
Title of thesis: Quantum Kolmogorov Complexity and the Quantum Turing Machine. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ruedi Seiler.
09/2004Diploma in Physics, Technical University of Berlin, very good.
10/1998 – 09/2004Studies of Physics and Mathematics in Erlangen, Stony Brook (NY), and Berlin.
08/1997 – 09/1998Replacement for military service: care for mentally and visually disabled children, Blindeninstitutsstiftung Rückersdorf.
07/1997Abitur, Paul-Pfinzing-Gymnasium Hersbruck, Bavaria, Germany, 1.0 (best possible grade).
07/2020First Prize at the FQXi Essay Contest on “Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability”, for this essay. Among >200 participants, two first
prizes of $10,000 each were awarded (the other one went to Prof. Klaas Landsman).
12/2019Best Paper Award 2019 by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, for this publication. Awarded annually for the best paper by any researcher under 45
who works with the Academy in any area of the sciences, mathematics, medicine, or engineering.
07/2016Birkhoff-von Neumann Prize for “outstanding scientific achievements in the field of quantum structures”, see here.
2002-2007Scholarship by the Studienstiftung (German National Academic Foundation).
05/1998First prize at the German youth science contest “Jugend forscht” in mathematics and computer science. Exceptional prize by the Federal
President (unique among >6400 participants of all research fields).
05/1995Second prize at Jugend forscht in mathematics and computer science. Exceptional Prize by the Federal Chancellor, Talent Identification Program
at Duke University, USA.
04/2024 – 03/2026Principal Investigator project on Generalized contextuality in large quantum systems. €380,256 from the Austrian Science Fund FWF.
05/2021 – 04/2025Stand-Alone project on Black-box quantum information under spacetime symmetries. €599,634 from the Austrian Science Fund FWF.
09/2020 – 08/2022FQXi Grant (Foundational Questions Institute) and from the Fetzer Franklin Fund on Mathematical models of idealism and dualism:
an adversarial collaboration, jointly with Prof. Kelvin McQueen (Chapman University, CA). USD $31,728.
11/2018 – 08/2020FQXi Large Grant on Where agents and algorithms meet – free will and computational irreducibility. USD $65,544 from the Foundational
Questions Institute.
12/2016 – 08/2019Grant by the John Templeton Foundation on Quantum Causality. USD $2,500,000 for 10 research groups aorund the world:
Bob Coecke and Jonathan Barrett (Oxford, UK), Lucien Hardy and Rob Spekkens (Perimeter Institute, Canada), Giulio Chiribella
(Hong Kong), Mauro d’Ariano and Paolo Perinotti (Pavia, Italy), Gerard Milburn (Queensland, Australia), Časlav Brukner (Vienna, Austria)
and my group at Vienna.
11/2016 – 03/2019FQXi Large Grant on Emergent objective reality – from observer states to physics via Solomonoff induction. USD $101,574 from the
Foundational Questions Institute.
04/2016 – 06/2017Discovery Grant on Quantum correlations in the context of spacetime physics. CAD $160,000 for five years (discontinued due to move to
Vienna). From the government of Canada via NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council).
07/2015 – 06/2017Canada Research Chair (tier 2) in the Foundations of Physics. CAD $500,000 for five years (discontinued due to move to Vienna). From the
Government of Canada via NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council).
10/2007 – 09/2008Advanced research and training grant by the Max Planck Society. €14,400 to do research at the MPI for Mathematics in the Sciences
(Leipzig) for one year.
01/2007Scholarship by DFG and DMV for a one-month research visit to the US (IQI Caltech, and AMS Meeting, New Orleans).
2004Science journalism scholarship from the Dr. Alexander and Rita Besser-Stiftung (turned down in favor of Research Assistant position).
CurrentlyVCQ Board Member (Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology, representative of ÖAW);
Member of Steering Committee, International Centre for Theory of Quantum Technologies, Gdańsk;
Member of Erwin Schrödinger Center for Quantum Science & Technology (ESQ), Vienna Doctoral School in Physics (VDSP),
Quantum Aspects of Spacetime Research Network (TURIS), Vienna.
Since 2023Public outreach: Talks about quantum physics and Bell’s Theorem in schools via ÖAW’s “Akademie im Klassenzimmer” (so far:
Borg3-Gymnasium, Billroth-Gymnasium, Wien). Lange Nacht der Forschung, Vienna.
Since 2023Member of selection committe for the Austrian “Studienstiftung”, supporting talented young students.
12/2019 – 11/2023Associate Editor, Foundations of Physics (Springer).
Since 2015External Dissertation Committee Member: Gaurav Saxena (University of Calgary) 2022, Fabian Clivaz (University of Geneva) 2020,
Cristina Cirstoiu (Imperial College London) 2019, Carlo Maria Scandolo (University of Oxford) 2018, Daniel Ebler (Hong Kong
University) 2018, Joshua M. Luczak, Jared Richards, and Saad Anis (University of Western Ontario, Canada) 2015-2016.
Since 2014Program Committee Member of various conferences: TQC (Theory of Quantum Computation, Communication and Cryptography) 2023,
Foundations 2023, QIP (Quantum Information Processing) 2014.
Since 2014(Co)-Organization of several conferences: Vienna Quantum Foundations Conference 1+2 (2021 and 2024), Mind and agency in the
Foundations of Quantum Physics (Chapman University, 2022); Algorithmic information, induction, and observers in physics (Perimeter
Institute, 2018); Information Theoretic Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics (Rotman Institute of Philosophy, 2016); Information Theoretic
Foundations for Physics (Perimeter Institute, 2015).
Since 2007Reviewing for various journals (Physical Review Letters, Nature Physics, Nature Communications, Quantum, Communications in
Mathematical Physics, New Journal of Physics, Annals of Physics, IEEE Transactions on Communications, …) and grant
agencies (Swiss National Foundation, Canada Research Chairs Program, Polish National Science Center, …).


I grew up in a tiny village called “Morsbrunn” in beautiful Franconia – 90 people, dung heaps, chickens running across the road. My beloved grandfather Paul (hence my middle name) spent his entire life there as a farmer, but during our long walks he would look up at the sky and wonder: what if we were always flying straight ahead in a spaceship, would we always fly on or come back at the starting point? Where does all this intricate structure and beauty in the world come from? Why is there something rather than nothing?

I must have inherited this passionate curiosity, and so I became a nerdy teenager with a love for math, physics and programming. These were not particularly popular hobbies (to put it mildly), and there were no academics in my family. But I was lucky enough to discover the German youth science competition “Jugend forscht”, and participating opened up a whole new world for me: I met wonderful people my age who shared the same passion.  Winning a national second prize at age 17, I was sent to the USA for a one-month stay, helping excavate Anasazi remains in New Mexico. At age 20, I won a first prize, and was lucky enough to meet the brilliant mathematician Dierk Schleicher, who helped me write up my kid stuff in a professional way.

At the same time, a completely different experience changed my view of life. I spent a year taking care of children and young people with multiple disabilities as a substitute for military service. What I was experiencing felt so much more meaningful than all the academic nonsense. For example, spending several hours trying to persuade five-year-old Nadine to drink water, just enough to survive. Or getting little blind Felix to enjoy going for a walk by letting him touch everything – flowers, walls and nettles. I felt grateful and humbled and painfully made aware of my own limitations, flaws and privileges.

These experiences sent me down an exciting but uncomfortable path. Theoretical quantum physics seemed extraordinarily meaningful and deep to me, but my interests and inclinations put me in a tense position between the chairs of math, physics and philosophy. I wanted to discuss with the best minds, but I hated the idea of elitism. I loved the abstraction of mathematics, but I felt the urgent need to understand something concrete about our role as sentient beings in this universe. There was a flood of questions that all started with “why” and not “how”. In a sense, this is the situation I still find myself in today.

I started studying physics in nearby Erlangen, but then moved to Berlin, where Karl-Eberhard Hellwig and Ruedi Seiler taught quantum information theory, and to a city with a thriving subculture of students and artists. We all enjoyed the freedom of the urban wasteland (still resulting from Germany’s reunification), prioritizing creativity over money in a way almost unheard of elsewhere.  In science, I was very happy for the opportunity to work with Jens Eisert, who inspired me with his inexhaustible energy and wealth of ideas.

It was only towards the end of my doctoral studies that I discovered the field of Quantum Foundations, which became my intellectual home, also thanks to my collaboration with the ingenious Lluís Masanes. I moved to Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where I met brilliant minds like Rob Spekkens, Lucien Hardy, and Lee Smolin, and many lifelong friends.

After intermediate stations in Heidelberg and London Ontario, I finally moved to IQOQI Vienna in 2017. I am extremely grateful for the support that I received from many friends and colleagues (including Časlav Brukner) that made it possible for me to make Vienna my home (after turning down an offer for a professorship at a German university), one of the best places in the world for research on the foundations of physics. I feel humbled and grateful for working among such brilliant colleagues. 

When I visit Morsbrunn today, my grandfather is sorely missed. But it is heartwarming to see my son and daughter walk the same paths as I walked back then, but now with my father. I hope that I will be able to help them find their own ways, which may be very different from mine. But I can’t help but be optimistic that they will find their answers to questions that I didn’t even dare to ask.

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