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Why Quantum?

Quantum information science and technology (QIST) is a rising multidisciplinary field with promises to revolutionize many fields including cryptography and communications, simulation and material discovery, sensing and new materials, and computing. This is currently challenging engineers, physicists, computer scientists, mathematicians, economists, and policymakers worldwide to push forward, collaborate, and make breakthrough discoveries and new policies. This has prompted many institutions to start offering QIST related courses and programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Notable examples other than CQIQC include UWaterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing, ETH Zurich’s Master in Quantum Engineering, TU Delft’s Quantum and Computer Engineering (QCE), UNSW’s BE in Quantum Engineering, Quantum Engineering at Colorado School of Mines, and IQC’s Undergraduate Quantum Specialization. To state the obvious, the strongest way to prepare UofT students for such Master’s programs is by aiming for quantum proficiency starting from undergraduate. Most importantly, having students be aware of this exciting interdisciplinary field early on will allow them enough time to confidently choose a path or subfield that they want to excel in. Q-SITE aims to incubate an environment for exactly that. QIST comprises three main subfields: quantum computing (QC), quantum communication, quantum metrology and quantum sensing. It is a rapidly evolving field which promises speed-ups of a unique subspace of computationally challenging problems. Some applications include factoring very large prime numbers, simulating quantum systems for material and drug discovery, quantum-secure communication, and various kinds of optimization problems. The semiconducting industry has formally acknowledged the plateauing of Moore’s law [1] –– raising concerns to the future of information processing capabilities. Ammonia (NH3) is a simple molecule behind today’s energy expensive fertilizer production process. However, cyanobacteria spontaneously produce ammonia at room temperature via quantum processes [2]. Using a quantum simulator, such reactions can be studied to address global sustainability plans. There are multiple avenues to contribute to the field. Some of these that fall under quantum computing are listed below:

Quantum Hardware

  • Superconducting Transmons

  • Semiconducting Spin-Qubits

  • Photonic QC

  • Trapped-Ion QC

Quantum Algorithms

  • Quantum Error Correction

  • Algorithms in Quantum Simulation

  • Quantum Machine Learning

  • NISQ and beyond applications

Quantum Cryptography and Communication

Economic Impact of Quantum Computing

From the insights the Government of Canada has gathered to develop the National Quantum Strategy, a consensus was made that "ramping up the talent pipeline must happen immediately and rapidly." And under the National Quantum Initiative Act in the United States, efforts are being made "to promote the development and inclusion of multidisciplinary curriculum and research opportunities for quantum information science at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral level". Pushing for quantum education at the undergraduate level will be a key step for the University of Toronto to become the quantum hub of Canada and join other leading global universities in incubating the future quantum workforce.

References [1] Waldrop MM. The chips are down for Moore’s law. Nature 2016;530(7589):144–7. [2] Andrea Morello. “Lunch & Learn: Quantum Computing,” SibosTV YouTube. Nov. 21, 2018.

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