$3 million breakthrough prize for quantum computing

The 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics is shared by four people who have made a series of contributions that are considered “fundamental work in the field of quantum information”.

The Breakthrough Prize is the world’s largest science award, valued at $3 million each to be shared between recipients. First awarded in 2012, its founders are Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan, Julia and Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg. Prizes in math, life sciences and fundamental physics are presented annually to scientists and mathematicians selected by committees of previous winners and are widely regarded as the “Oscars” of science, having been presented at a glamorous, televised ceremony prior to the pandemic in Silicon Valley .

There are four recipients of the 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, all of whom have recently contributed to the current state of quantum computing.

David Deutsch became known as the “father of quantum computing” by proposing a theoretical machine for testing the existence of parallel universes in his article “Quantum Theory as a Universal Physical Theory” published in 1985. This was a quantum version of a Turing machine – a universal quantum computer – and proved, that it can simulate with any accuracy any physical system that obeys the laws of quantum mechanics. He showed that such a computer corresponds to a network of surprisingly few quantum gates – logic gates that exploit entanglement and quantum superposition of many states simultaneously, and provided descriptions of quantum bits or qubits. And of course it was Deutsch who wrote the first quantum algorithm that would outperform the best equivalent classical algorithm.

The other well-known algorithm for quantum computing is Peter Shor’s algorithm, which factors large numbers exponentially faster than any classical algorithm and was the first algorithm to demonstrate the potential utility of quantum computing in the future. Shor also designed error-correction techniques in quantum computers, which are much more difficult to accomplish than in classical computers, where simple redundancy suffices.

According to the Breakthrough Prize announcement:

These ideas not only paved the way for today’s rapidly evolving quantum computers; You are now also at the frontiers of basic physics, particularly in the study of metrology – the science of measurement – and quantum gravity.

The award relates to the field of quantum information, and it was the other two recipients of the award, Charles H. Bennett and Gilles Brassard, who, with their BB84 protocol, initiated quantum cryptography by finding a practical way to send secret messages between users send no secret sharing information first. Unlike usual in e-commerce, it cannot be cracked by an eavesdropper with unlimited computing power.

The announcement comments:

Their discovery of quantum teleportation with collaborators in 1993 showed that entanglement is a useful quantifiable resource despite having no communication capacity of its own, thus helping to launch the new science of quantum information processing.

In 2020, Shor, Brassard and Bennett shared the BBVA Frontiers Of Knowledge Award for their outstanding contributions to the field of quantum technologies, and you can read more about how the two strands of their work could advance quantum computing in our report.

More information

Breakthrough Prize website

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