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Recap "Discover Quantum Computing at IBM Research Zurich"

On the 20 November, 20 of our members had the exclusive opportunity to visit IBM Research. After a lunch break on the train ride we arrived in Rüschlikon with enough spare time to hike up the hill where IBM Research is located. We were greeted with a welcome and a buffet of coffee and cake, and had the first opportunity to talk to Oliver Ottow, who then led us into the conference room. He began by introducing us to the field of quantum computing, delving into all the different areas of research that IBM Quantum Computing is most involved in, explaining the fundamental differences between a classical computer and a quantum computer, and giving us a roadmap of what IBM has achieved over the past few years and what they expect to achieve in the coming years.

The next talk was given by Mira Luca Wolf-Bauwens, who serves as Lead Responsible Quantum Computing. We were introduced to interesting ethical issues in quantum research. Furthermore, we learnt about the different ways that IBM is working with policy-makers to ensure that the field of quantum computing develops in a way that is beneficial to humanity whilst simultaneously minimising the associated risks. For those interested in learning more about responsible quantum computing, Mira recommended the following reports: 1, 2

Then, it was time for the practical oriented part. Marcel showed us how anyone can get started with programming quantum computers (although the entry barrier is considerably higher than it was to your first “hello world”). This platform can be used to test out your programs for quantum computers either on a simulated quantum computer or a real quantum computer (although this comes with some lengthy waiting times). For those who want to learn more about quantum programming, make sure to check out the following GitHub profile.

Now came the time for the lab tour. IBM’s lab in Zurich presents itself as a giant labyrinth full of frighteningly smart people and expensive machinery. One of the most remarkable sights was during the Q&A with Andreas when a quantum computer was reassembled in the background by two IBM researchers.

On behalf of the ACM HSG, we want to thank everyone at IBM who made this event possible and who dedicated time to introduce us to the world of quantum computing.

Author: Moritz

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