Research News

Quantum Coding using Qiskit Software showcased at UCD Quantum Computing Hackathon 2020

  • 15 September, 2020


This August, UCD hosted the Quantum Computing Hackathon as part of the Qiskit Community 'Summer Jam' series of online hackathons taking place around the world. The event was organised in partnership between UCD Research and Innovation and IBM Quantum and leveraged Qiskit, the open source framework that enables developers to write code for quantum computers. 

UCD and IBM's Quantum Computing Hackathon built upon the Quantum Technologies Colloquium held last year in collaboration between UCD and IBM Research Europe in Ireland - with both institutions recognising that Quantum computers have the potential to power major breakthroughs in scientific fields including chemistry, optmisation and artificial intelligence, as well as financial services. The 2020 virtual event took place over several weeks from 6-21 August and was focused on the use of the Qiskit open source software framework founded by IBM for writing code for quantum computers.

The Hackathon had a two-phase format with the initial phase purely focused on team formation and the identification of ideas to explore. In phase two, registered teams of students, academic staff, and industry representatives entered into the ‘hacking phase’ where teams began working on their ideas using Qiskit. Throughout the event coaches with expertise in quantum coding from IBM Research Europe in Ireland and UCD were on-hand for all teams.

This exciting event gave teams the opportunity to experience first-hand the potential the open-source quantum computing framework has to offer, to both academia and industry, through a team-oriented Qiskit Hackathon exercise.

The event, which saw strong attendance from academic representatives, closed with awards to the Hackathon winners following an evaluation by the judging panel. The winning team (led by Luuk Coopmans of Trinity College Dublin) implemented an approach for quantum watermarking and scrambling with Qiskit, while the second place team (led by James Conway of Mastercard) implemented a quantum algorithm to solve a 2X2X2 Rubik’s cube.

Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact at UCD, Professor Orla Feely said: “We are delighted to highlight once again the strong relationship between UCD and IBM. This connection is of great importance to the university and has produced several significant assets including the SFI Centre for Research Training in Machine Learning, where IBM is technology partner, and a Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund for QCoIr Quantum Computing in Ireland, awarded to an IBM-led consortium with UCD spin-out Equal1. Quantum computing is an increasingly important field of study that we are committed to supporting.”

Senior Manager AI and Quantum at IBM Research Europe in Ireland, Dr Martin Mevissen said: “Quantum computing offers the opportunity to manipulate information in a fundamentally different way and may allow us to tackle computationally challenging problems beyond the capability of current information technology. An event like this hackathon hosted by UCD is crucial to further develop skills in quantum computing in Ireland, and contributes to building out the Irish ecosystem for quantum computing.”