Quantum Computing

Credit: IBM

Credit: IBM

Take the principles of quantum mechanics. Add the imagination of computer scientists. What you get is a mind-bending technological advance called a quantum computer, with links, past and present, to the UT Austin campus.

Setting a Foundation: UT Austin physicist John A. Wheeler assembled a group of graduate students and postdocs who made seminal contributions in the 1970s and 80s. Former Longhorns include David Deutsch, who cofounded the field of quantum computation by describing mathematical principles for a universal quantum computer; Wojciech Zurek (PhD ’79), who cofounded the subfield of quantum-error correction; and Benjamin Schumacher (PhD ’90), who coined the term “qubit” for a component that processes and stores information in a quantum computer.

Showing Supremacy: Scott Aaronson, professor of computer science and founder of a new UT Austin center dedicated to quantum information, develops tests that quantum computers have to pass to prove they’ve reached a key milestone called “quantum supremacy” – performing a task that would take astronomical amounts of time for a traditional computer.

Taking a Test Drive: In a new research stream of the Freshman Research Initiative, undergraduates explore all aspects of quantum computing, from implementing algorithms to performing quantum-error corrections. They work with scientists doing experimental and theoretical work in quantum computing, quantum cryptography and quantum emulation (meaning using analog electronics to mimic the behavior of a quantum computer).

Exploring Information: The Departments of Physics and Computer Science are currently recruiting additional faculty members who research quantum information. In addition to continuing his current work, Scott Aaronson plans to study the properties of machine learning algorithms designed specifically for quantum computers and to apply tools from quantum information theory to answer questions such as, What happens to information in a black hole?

Listen to the podcast interview with our quantum computing expert.