General Technology

Winner of the Peter Wittek 2020 Prize. Quantum Prize for Open Source Software

February 5, 2021

Peter Wittek was sadly lost whilst trekking. The researcher, famous for his work on disseminating Quantum Machine Learning as well as teaching a very poplar online course on QML, now has an annual prize named after him. Now the 2020 prize has been awarded to PhD student Roger Luo.

We reported on Peter’s missing status a while ago back when there was an active hunt to find the avoid mountain climber. The pioneer in more than one way. He was instrumental in bringing commercial prowess the the quantum world – being involved with the UoT (University of Toronto) and the CDL (Creative Destruction Lab) which spins out Quantum companies in Canada. There was a memorial prize named in his honour. A memorial was given last year at the beginning of February 2020.

2020 Wittek Quantum Prize for Open Source Software

The Wittek Quantum Prize is dedicated to Peter Wittek – a pioneer in the field of open quantum software who went missing on a mountaineering expedition in the Himalayas A combined prize is awarded between the Unitary Fund and the Quantum Open Source Foundation. Selection takes place between the board of the Unitary’s Fund who act as an independent committee.

The aim of the prize is to recognise and reward an unnoticed individual for their outstanding high-impact contribution to the field of open source quantum software. The current fund is US $4000.

Peter Wittek. Former Assistant Professor at UoT in Canada

Who was Peter Wittek?

Firstly, as short introduction to Peter Wittek. He was an Assistant Professor from Toronto (University of Toronto) and for the last few years he has been actively engaged in the field of “Quantum Machine Learning”. You might have heard of “Quantum and Computing” and “Machine Learning”, but not the amalgam term of QML (Quantum Machine Learning). A pioneer in this nascent field who has published with luminaries such as Seth Lloyd, Peter has made an invaluable contribution to the Quantum space and even has his own Online Course dedicated to machine learning, which is open to all. Many students and founder he worked with are saddened by the loss.

The 2020 Winner of the Quantum Open Source Foundation (QOSF)

A PhD student at the University of Waterloo and Perimeter Institute is the winner of the 2020 Quantum Open Source Foundation (QOSF) for using the Julia computing language to build an effective quantum simulator. Julia is one of our favourite computing languages and we have long championed the employment of Julia in Quantum for the language has some unique advantages such as the ability to run so much faster than python for example. In addition to speed of computation, Julia allows linear algebra right from the get-go, basically the matrices, vectors and operations for Quantum Computing come built in as standard. Look at some of our Julia articles such as: Could Julia replace Python and be transformational in Quantum Computing? and Learning the Julia programming language.

Out of 50 nominations the winner Roger Luo, a PhD student at the University of Waterloo was awarded the 2020 prize. Luo created the Quantum simulator named Yao (Yao.jl) which is also based : Extensible, Efficient Framework for Quantum Algorithm Design published at Quantum Journal.

What is Yao, the Quantum Simulator in Julia?

Yao is an extensible, efficient open-source framework for quantum algorithm design. Yao features generic and differentiable programming of quantum circuits. Crucially for performing tasks such as Quantum Machine Learning the features include block intermediate representation of quantum circuits, a builtin automatic differentiation engine optimised for reversible computing. The simulator is permits GPU acceleration. The below shows some example syntax for creating a quantum Fourier transform.

A(i, j) = control(i, j=>shift(2π/(1<<(i-j+1))))
B(n, k) = chain(n, j==k ? put(k=>H) : A(j, k) for j in k:n)
qft(n) = chain(B(n, k) for k in 1:n)

There is a an interview by the winner Robert Yao.

Winner of the 2020 Peter Wittek Prize