The exciting thing about Quantum Spain is that it will put Spain on the map of quantum computing and provide Spanish science with a solid foundation to tackle the next steps in the field. The idea that the quantum computer will be built and assembled in Spain is very important because it means that we will control the technologies that make it possible. This time we will not miss the train of scientific and technological development.
What is your profession and how long have you been working in it?
I am a physicist and have always worked as such during the 50 years I have been in the profession. I am currently a professor at the University of Zaragoza and director of the Center for Astroparticle and High Energy Physics. I am also director of the Pedro Pascual Benasque Science Center.
What is/will be the contribution of UNIZAR – BIFI to the Quantum Spain project?
The contribution of the Zaragoza group to the project consists of coordinating the work package focused on algorithms, i.e. the study of quantum algorithms that can be efficiently executed on quantum computers. An interesting aspect we are already tackling is the implementation of Artificial Intelligence and Deep Machine Learning techniques in these algorithms. One of the main objectives of our node is creating a quantum environment that includes industrial groups interested in the development and applications of quantum technologies.
What are these algorithms’ purposes, and what everyday problems could be solved with them?
The goal of quantum computing is to provide hardware that allows quantum algorithms to run and exploit the richness of their possibilities. Although the hardware available is quite limited, it allows us to check that the algorithms developed work correctly and can also be used to certify the proper functioning of the quantum devices. But relying on the future growth of these computers, we can also design new algorithms that address more ambitious problems, including those that use advanced machine learning and AI techniques. From this point of view, these algorithms’ applications are unlimited. Applications being developed in our group include the classification of different phases of quantum materials and different breast cancer modalities from public databases, as well as structural anomalies in podiatry.
In terms of potential, what is the difference between a classical and a quantum algorithm?
Although I’m not too fond of the term, there is a computational supremacy of quantum information over classical computation. This is reflected in the fact that the peculiarities of quantum systems based on cubits, instead of classical bits, allow a series of operations that in a quantum computer can be performed in a few days and that in a classical computer would require the age of the Universe to be completed.
What do you consider to be the differentiating element of Quantum Spain compared to other quantum computing projects?
The fact that Quantum Spain is a national project does not imply that it does not collaborate with other international projects, mainly European. The achievements considered as objectives of the project will occur in parallel to the advances that will occur worldwide in the coming years. The interesting thing about Quantum Spain is that it will put Spain on the map of quantum computing and provide Spanish science with a solid foundation to take the following steps in the field. The idea that the quantum computer will be built and assembled in Spain is very important because we will control the technologies that make it possible. On this occasion, we will be able to catch the train of scientific and technological development. It is also important that the industrial fabric is involved in the exploitation of the novel possibilities that quantum computing offers. Quantum Spain offers an ideal platform for the integration of this industrial environment.
What do you think will be the contribution of Quantum Spain to the national research field?
The distinguishing feature of Quantum Spain is that it brings together all the national researchers who are doing research in the field of quantum simulation and quantum computing. This provides a solid platform to address the objectives of the program. Still, Quantum Spain proposes an attractive training programme for young researchers and technologists to join the quantum computing ecosystem, allowing a deep, long-term development of the same. At the end of the project, the Spanish quantum information community will be placed in a prominent position on the international scene, comparable to that of the most prestigious Spanish research communities.
What changes do you think this new computing paradigm will bring in the future?
The fact that the state agencies of different countries and the large information and communication technology companies are firmly committed to the development of quantum computing indicates that its potential must be significant. The new computing will radically change the world of communications security and the analysis of large databases, making it possible to tackle problems that are now considered utopian in all scientific and technological fields. In particular, this will enable major advances in medicine and biotechnology, the design of new materials and, in general, in all frontier technological fields.