​UTS opens centre for quantum software development

​The university has opened a centre that will be dedicated to the development of the software and information processing infrastructure required to run quantum-scale applications.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has launched its new Centre for Quantum Software and Information (CQSI).

Speaking at the launch on Monday, UTS Deputy vice chancellor of Research Glenn Wightwick said the new centre will be solely dedicated to the development of the software and information processing infrastructure required to run applications at quantum scale.

"It's clear that we're on the cusp of a new era of computing," Wightwick said.

"We're incredibly excited about the potential of quantum computing to solve problems that the fastest classical computers will never be able to solve.

"It's these forces that are driving this period of sustained innovation in the field of quantum computing. And while we're still at the relatively early stages of this work, it's the efforts of the Centre for Quantum Software and Information in collaboration with other centres and industry that will prove to be powerful tools for when large-scale quantum information processing becomes a reality."

The CQSI builds upon the work undertaken by its forerunner, the Centre for Quantum Computation and Intelligent Systems (QCIS), which focused on the development of theoretical foundations, innovative technology, and practical systems for quantum computing.

The new centre has five research programs: Algorithms and complexity, artificial intelligence applications, programming and verification, intermediate quantum computing and architectures, and information theory and security.

Professor Mingsheng Ying and Professor Runyao Duan have been selected to lead the new centre, with Ying ending his eight-year tenure at the previous centre. In addition to his new role, Ying has also been appointed as UTS executive director of data science.

Wightwick explained that the focus of CQSI is around quantum software, quantum information, and quantum cryptography, and not so much on the hardware. He said focusing on the software side of quantum computing complements the hardware focus of other Australian teams, such as the Centre for Quantum Computation & Communication Technology (CQC2T), officially opened in April at the University of New South Wales.

Also speaking at the CQSI launch, New South Wales Chief Scientist and Engineer Mary O'Kane praised the work of the various quantum computing research centres around Australia, and said she was impressed with the collaboration happening in the sector.

"I've always thought it was particularly clever of UTS to, early on, really pioneer the software end of things and to look at the algorithmic issues, the complexity issues, and the cryptography issues," she said.

"It's particularly good to see the emergence of this new centre and the particular focus it's bringing and I think its two directors are fantastic and I think it's wonderful they keep doing what has been in the predecessor QCIS of bringing great people together. I know it will do very well.

"I look forward to this being yet another re-flowering and another extra flowering of the great bouquet of flowers that is quantum computing in Sydney, in New South Wales, and in Australia."

It is expected that from 2017, the QSI will play a major role in developing applications for the Australian Research Council's (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technologies.

The Australian government launched nine new ARC Centres of Excellence in September, handing out AU$283.5 million to fund specialised research.

Under the scheme, the University of Queensland (UQ) received AU$31.9 million in funding to lead a national centre developing advanced quantum technologies, likewise with UNSW's CQC2T.

A team of researchers out of the UNSW centre, led by professor Michelle Simmons, is currently racing to build the world's first quantum computer in silicon.

Well on their way to achieving their goal, UNSW's engineers already unlocked the key to enabling quantum computer coding in silicon, announcing in November last year the team had the capability to write and manipulate a quantum version of computer code using two quantum bits (qubits) in a silicon microchip.

According to UNSW, in achieving this breakthrough the team has removed lingering doubts that such operations can be made reliably enough to allow powerful quantum computers to become a reality.

The breakthrough followed on from an announcement made a month prior when another team of engineers from the university built a quantum logic gate in silicon, which made calculations between two qubits of information possible.

Engineers at UNSW then announced recently they had created a new qubit which remains in a stable superposition for 10 times longer than previously achieved, expanding the time during which calculations could be performed in a future silicon quantum computer.

Physicists at the Australian National University successfully completed an experiment to stop light in September, a critical step in developing future quantum computers.

To advance its own research in quantum computing, the University of Sydney was awarded part of a multimillion dollar research grant in May from the United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

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