• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

    Critical Thought

    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    Quantum Hackathon Showcases Potential of Quantum Computing

    BySam Figg

    Nov 21, 2023
    Quantum Hackathon Showcases Potential of Quantum Computing

    The recent Quantum Hackathon, organized by the National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) in the UK, brought together ten teams of early-career researchers, industry mentors, and hardware specialists to explore the possibilities of quantum solutions for real-world problems. Over the course of two days, teams worked closely with leading hardware providers and end-user organizations such as the National Health Service, Rolls Royce, and financial specialists Nomura, to develop innovative solutions.

    The event saw an increase in participation from the commercial sector compared to the previous year. Michael Cuthbert, Director of the NQCC, highlighted the growing enthusiasm and engagement in quantum computing. With more industry partners and access to exclusive hardware platforms, participants had the opportunity to explore different technologies and gain hands-on experience.

    Quantum computing is a relatively new field, and this hackathon aimed to raise awareness of its capabilities and limitations among various organizations. Participants, mainly PhD students and early-career scientists, were able to write quantum algorithms and run them on real quantum computers. Each team included a technical specialist from a hardware provider and an industry mentor to guide and contextualize the use case.

    While some industry partners already had experience in quantum computing, others viewed the hackathon as an opportunity to familiarize themselves with emerging quantum algorithms and hardware. Fazal Chaudry, a principal systems engineer at the UK Atomic Energy Authority, shared that their use case focused on a problem in nuclear fusion. Although the algorithms developed by Chaudry’s team showed promise, they found that the current hardware is not yet mature enough to offer a performance advantage. Nevertheless, the hackathon provided valuable insights and a starting point for further exploration.

    An important takeaway from the event was the need for a different approach to problem-solving in quantum computing. Rather than translating classical problems to quantum computers, participants realized the importance of rethinking the way information is encoded to achieve better performance. Challenges of representation and performance comparison were acknowledged, emphasizing the need for further research and development in the field.

    For the hackers involved, the hackathon offered a platform to enhance their skills in quantum computing, discover potential use cases across industries, and explore the technology’s applications in various research fields. Collaboration among team members with different areas of expertise and skill levels fostered knowledge sharing and interdisciplinary learning.

    The hackathon provided a valuable opportunity for participants to dive deep into quantum computing and push the boundaries of what is currently possible. As quantum computing continues to advance, events like these will play a crucial role in driving innovation and unlocking the potential of this exciting field.


    What is a quantum hackathon?

    A quantum hackathon is an event where teams of researchers, industry mentors, and hardware specialists come together to develop quantum solutions for real-world problems. Hackathons provide a collaborative environment for participants to experiment, learn, and push the boundaries of quantum computing.

    What are the objectives of a quantum hackathon?

    The objectives of a quantum hackathon include building awareness of the current capabilities and limitations of quantum computing, providing hands-on experience in developing quantum algorithms, fostering collaboration between different stakeholders, and exploring potential use cases across industries.

    Who can participate in a quantum hackathon?

    Quantum hackathons are open to early-career researchers, graduate students, industry professionals, and anyone interested in quantum computing. Participants may have varying levels of experience with quantum computing, and teams are often formed to include individuals with different areas of expertise.

    What are the benefits of participating in a quantum hackathon?

    Participating in a quantum hackathon allows individuals to enhance their skills in quantum computing, gain hands-on experience with real quantum computers, learn about potential applications in different industries, and collaborate with peers and experts in the field. It provides a platform for innovation and exploration in the rapidly evolving field of quantum computing.