QuSoft: new research center for quantum software

3 December 2015

QuSoft, the first research center dedicated to quantum software, will officially be launched later today. A joint initiative between Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam), QuSoft will be located at Amsterdam Science Park and will complement the research conducted by QuTech, which focuses on the development of quantum hardware.

This in turn will strengthen the position of Amsterdam and the Netherlands in world-class quantum information research.

The main focus of QuSoft will be on the development of quantum software, which requires fundamentally different techniques and approaches to those used to develop conventional software because of the counter-intuitive quantum mechanical properties of the quantum computer such as superposition, interference and entanglement. The chief research objective is to develop software and find applications that exploit the extraordinary power of quantum computers.

Solid reputation

QuSoft is the brainchild of Harry Buhrman, group leader of the ‘Algorithms and Complexity’ research group at CWI and professor of Computer Science at the UvA. Buhrman and Kareljan Schoutens, professor of Theoretical Physics at the UvA, will be the directors of the center, which builds on the two Amsterdam-based institutions' excellent track record in quantum computing and quantum information. Together they will lead its mission to develop new protocols, algorithms and applications that can be run on small and medium-sized prototypes of a quantum computer.

Harry Buhrman: ‘The launch of the QuSoft research center is great news and reinforces Amsterdam's center-stage position in this important research area. It allows us to scale up our work on applications and software designed to run on the kind of quantum computer hardware that seems to be just around the corner. Investment in the science and development of quantum software is vital because at present no one really fully understands how to properly exploit the special opportunities quantum hardware will bring.’

Research fields

QuSoft will specifically target the research fields of few-qubit applications, quantum testing and debugging, and quantum architectures. The center will furthermore cover the related field of quantum cryptography. Since most modern-day cryptographic codes can be trivially broken as soon as a working quantum computer becomes available, the development of new quantum cryptographic protocols and applications is of utmost importance to secure our economic infrastructure.

Research priority area

In addition to investments by CWI and VU Amsterdam, QuSoft will receives structural funding through the UvA's Quantum Matter and Quantum Information (QM&QI) research priority area, a joint endeavour between four research institutes of the Faculty of Science. The new center will be located at CWI’s headquarters at Amsterdam Science Park. The current activities of the existing QuSoft research teams are already well embedded within CWI and the UvA. The center aims to grow to 35 to 40 researchers and will be home to four research groups, each with numerous PhD students and postdocs. For VU Amsterdam, participation in QuSoft brings the opportunity to join the important and exciting research field of quantum software and its applications.

Kareljan Schoutens: ‘The actual design of software and hardware for quantum ICT leads to a range of fundamental questions that can only be addressed by a collaboration across various disciplines. What makes QM&QI special is that within this research priority area physicists, computer scientists and mathematicians jointly explore how quantum principles enable faster computation and better information security, and the quantum systems that are best suited to these applications. We are delighted that the additional funding allows us to firmly set up and advance one of our research spearheads, the development of quantum software, in a new research center.’

Published by  UvA Persvoorlichting