This article is published in the February 2024 issue.

CCC Releases the 5 Year Update to the Next Steps in Quantum Computing Workshop Report

By Catherine Gill, Program Associate, CCC

Quantum computing has captured the public’s attention due to its incredible theoretical applications, but the intensely complicated underlying physics make it difficult for even computing experts in other fields to understand. Computing researchers in other disciplines, however, have valuable knowledge to aid in the development of quantum computers. “To increase momentum in quantum system progress, we must lower the barrier to entry”, says Kaitlin N. Smith, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Northwestern University. “Scientists shouldn’t be required to have an expert-level understanding of quantum mechanics to contribute their skill set to quantum computing”. Though quantum computers operate very differently from classical computers, some of the approaches used in classical computing, such as architectural and benchmarking techniques, can be modified and applied to quantum systems. 

The 5 Year Update to the Next Steps in Quantum Computing workshop was born out of this need to convene experts within and outside of the Quantum Computing world. This workshop, led by Kenneth Brown (Duke University), Fred Chong (University of Chicago), and Kaitlin N. Smith (Northwestern University and Infleqtion), with support from previous CCC Council member Thomas Conte (Georgia Tech), was held in May of 2022 in Washington, D.C. The workshop report, among many other recommendations, emphasizes the need for more quantum workshops and projects that allow collaboration between disciplines. “In particular”, says Fred Chong, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Chicago, “it is our hope that a vertically-integrated, interdisciplinary approach will accelerate progress towards practical quantum systems.” 

Quantum Computing is in the Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum (NISQ) era currently, meaning that Quantum Computers are still prone to high error rates and are able to maintain few logical qubits. The work being done in Quantum Error Correction, however, is enabling Quantum Computing to transition towards a Fault-tolerant future. “There has been remarkable progress in quantum computer hardware in the last five years”, says Kenneth Brown, Professor of Engineering at Duke University, “but challenges remain in terms of reducing errors and scaling systems. We thought it was critical to bring together experts in quantum computing, computer architecture, and systems engineering to plan for the next ten years”. 

To learn about the other critical quantum topics that came up during the workshop, please read the Full Report here.