Quantum Information Science

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About this program

How do we build a quantum computer?

Today’s digital world is binary: a switch is either on or off, one or zero. But in the subatomic world of quantum physics, different rules hold sway. Some particles can exist in two or more states simultaneously. Others can react instantly to changes taking place miles away. These properties could allow us to build computers entirely unlike those we have today. Quantum computation could allow us to break unbreakable codes, model impossibly complex phenomena and solve problems previously thought to be unsolvable.

Program at a glance

Founded in

2002

Members

34

Renewal Dates

2007, 2012

Disciplines

Computer science, including quantum computing and theory of computation; quantum, condensed matter, mathematical and atomic physics; optics; electronic and information engineering; applied mathematics

Program details

Quantum information science exists at the interface between computer science and quantum physics. For this reason, it is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring input from experts in many different fields. CIFAR brings together 35 leading researchers from mathematics, computer science, cryptography, theoretical physics, experimental physics, chemistry, engineering and other relevant disciplines. Together, these researchers aim to harness the power of quantum mechanics and create exponentially more powerful computers.

Wallraff - Section of superconducting chip - 2015(Image courtesy of Marek Pechal, Quantum Device Lab, ETH Zurich)

Quantum computing could affect society on a scale similar to that of the digital computer revolution. When researchers solve the theoretical and practical problems, quantum computing promises to vastly increase the computational speed, security and power available to us.

In 1994, mathematician Peter Shor published a famous algorithm about calculating the prime factors of very large numbers. This is a task that would take classical computers millions of years, but Shor’s algorithm showed that a quantum computer could do it in minutes. Not only did this provide a concrete example of a problem that only quantum computers could solve, it also had serious implications for the world of computer security. Many common cryptography algorithms — the technology used to keep banking transactions and other sensitive information secret — rely on the fact that factoring large numbers is something that cannot quickly be done by classical computers. If a quantum computer could be built, it could break almost any existing security code and allow for more secure cryptography.

In addition to cryptography, quantum computation could solve difficult optimization problems — that is, selecting the best solution out of a large set of possible answers. Examples include finding a drug molecule that would bind to a particular target in the human body, or choosing the best price at which to sell a product in a crowded and complex market. If quantum computers can solve those problems more quickly than classical computers, they could have huge implications for banking, medicine, defence and many other fields.

Data-compression-image
Aephraim M. Steinberg showed that quantum information stored in a collection of identically prepared qubits can be perfectly compressed into exponentially fewer qubits.

CIFAR’s quantum information science program is organized around three major themes:

  • Where does the power of quantum computation come from?
  • How can we control quantum systems?
  • What would quantum cryptography look like?

SELECTED PAPERS


Knill, E., R. Laflamme et G.J. Milburn. "A scheme for efficient quantum computation with linear optics." Nature 409 (2001) : 46-52. Abstract

Negrevergne, C. et al. "Benchmarking quantum control methods on a 12-qubit system." Physical Review Letters, 96 (2006) : 170501 Abstract

L. A. Rozema et al., “Quantum Data Compression of a Qubit Ensemble,” Physical Review Letters 113, 16 (2014). Abstract

J. Zhang et al., “Digital quantum simulation of the statistical mechanics of a frustrated magnet,” Nature Communications 3, 880 (2012). Abstract

Program fellows & advisors

Program Co-Directors

Bio Outline
David Poulin
Program Co-Director

David Poulin’s research focuses primarily on finding efficient methods to protect quantum information. This includes the design of high-performance quantum error correcting codes and the search for innovative fault-tolerant techniques.

QIS_SteinbergAephraim
Aephraim M. Steinberg
Associate Program Director

Aephraim Steinberg’s interests lie in fundamental quantum-mechanical phenomena and the control and characterization of the quantum states of systems ranging from laser-cooled atoms to individual photons.

Fellows

Bio Outline

Alexander Lvovsky

  • Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Calgary
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Alexandre Blais

  • Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Université de Sherbrooke
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Amir Yacoby

  • Associate Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Harvard University
  • United States
Bio Outline

Andreas Wallraff

  • Associate Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • ETH Zürich
  • Switzerland
AndrewChilds

Andrew Childs

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Maryland
  • United States
QIS_NayakAshwin

Ashwin Nayak

  • Associate Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Waterloo
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Barbara Terhal

  • Associate Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • RWTH Aachen University
  • Germany
BarrySanders

Barry C. Sanders

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Calgary
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Bei Zeng

  • Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Guelph
  • Canada
DanielGottesman

Daniel Gottesman

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Debbie Leung

  • Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Waterloo
  • Canada
GillesBrassard

Gilles Brassard

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Université de Montréal
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Gregor Weihs

  • Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Innsbruck
  • Austria
QIS_LoHioKwong

Hoi-Kwong Lo

  • Associate Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Toronto
  • Canada
QIS_JohnWatrous

John Watrous

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Waterloo
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Joseph Emerson

  • Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Waterloo
  • Canada
QIS_MichelPioroLadriere

Michel Pioro-Ladrière

  • Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Université de Sherbrooke
  • Canada
MicheleMosca

Michele Mosca

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Waterloo
  • Canada
QIS_PaoloCappellaro

Paola Cappellaro

  • Associate Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • United States
PatrickHayden

Patrick Hayden

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Stanford University
  • United States
PeterHoyer

Peter Høyer

  • Associate Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Calgary
  • Canada
QIS_RaffiBudakian

Raffi Budakian

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Waterloo
  • Canada
QIS_RaymondLaflamme

Raymond Laflamme

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Waterloo
  • Canada
QIS_RichardCleve

Richard E. Cleve

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Waterloo
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Robert Raußendorf

  • Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada
QIS_ScottAaronson

Scott Aaronson

  • Associate Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • United States
QIS_Jennewein

Thomas Jennewein

  • Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Waterloo
  • Canada
QIS_WilliamCoish

William A. Coish

  • Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • McGill University
  • Canada
QIS_WolfgangTittel

Wolfgang Tittel

  • Senior Fellow
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Calgary
  • Canada

Advisors

AndrewYao

Andrew Yao

  • Advisor
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Tsinghua University
  • China
CharlesBennett

Charles H. Bennett

  • Advisor
  • Quantum Information Science
  • IBM
  • United States
Bio Outline

David G. Cory

  • Advisory Committee Chair
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Waterloo
  • Canada
HarryBuhrman

Harry M. Buhrman

  • Advisor
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Centrum voor Wiskunde en Informatica (CWI)
  • The Netherlands

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars

Gerhard Kirchmair

Gerhard Kirchmair

  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Innsbruck
  • Austria
Bio Outline

Giulio Chiribella

  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar
  • Quantum Information Science
  • University of Hong Kong
  • China
QIS_NirBarGill

Nir Bar-Gill

  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar
  • Quantum Information Science
  • The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Israel
QIS_ThomasVidick

Thomas Vidick

  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar
  • Quantum Information Science
  • California Institute of Technology
  • United States