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Bristol mathematician awarded €1.8 million to research quantum algorithms

Dr Ashley Montanaro

4 December 2018

Dr Ashley Montanaro, Reader in Quantum Computation in the School of Mathematics, has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) grant for his project ‘Quantum Algorithms from Foundations to Applications’.

ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding mid-career researchers with a scientific track record showing great promise. Funding is provided for up to five years and research must be conducted in one of the EU Member States.

Quantum computers are designed to use quantum mechanics to go beyond the power of any standard computer based only on classical physics. After many years of intensive experimental and theoretical effort internationally, it is predicted that quantum computers that outperform today’s supercomputers will be built in the near future. Expected applications of these machines include the design of novel materials, the solution of hard optimisation problems and cracking cryptographic systems.

The grant will help Dr Montanaro to address the most significant challenges involved in bringing quantum algorithms to practical applications, including the development of new algorithmic ideas, such as for accelerating general-purpose classical optimisation algorithms. It will also aim to make known algorithms more practically applicable.

The approach encompasses the full spectrum of quantum algorithms research, from underpinning mathematics through to detailed analysis of applications. Making progress on the foundations will enable progress on the more technically challenging aspects of applications, while having particular applications in mind will raise interesting new foundational questions.

Dr Ashley Montanaro said: "I am thrilled to receive support from the ERC for this frontier research project. This support will enable us to make sustained progress towards addressing some of the key challenges in the theory of quantum computing, at a critical moment for the field."

The President of the ERC, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, commented: "This ERC funding will allow ambitious scientists to establish or strengthen their teams in Europe and be truly creative in their research. Beyond a push to the grantees’ careers, this European support will offer an excellent working environment for younger researchers at doctoral and post-doctoral levels. We look forward to see many of these daring ideas come to fruition, to the benefit of Europe at large."

Further information

The European Research Council (ERC)

Set up by the European Union in 2007, the ERC is the premiere European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. It offers four core grant schemes: Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy Grants. With its additional Proof of Concept grant scheme, the ERC helps grantees to bridge the gap between grantees' pioneering research and early phases of its commercialisation.

To date, the ERC has funded some 8,000 top researchers at various stages of their careers, and over 50,000 postdocs, PhD students and other staff working in their research teams. The ERC strives to attract top researchers from anywhere in the world to come to Europe. Key global research funding bodies, in the United States, China, Japan, Brazil and other countries, have concluded special agreements to provide their researchers with opportunities to temporarily join ERC grantees' teams.

The ERC is led by an independent governing body, the Scientific Council. The ERC President is Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon. The overall ERC budget from 2014 to 2020 is more than €13 billion, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, for which European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas is responsible. Read the ERC press release.

Quantum Information Theory at Bristol

The Quantum Information Theory group spans the Schools of Mathematics and Physics. Group members have interests in all theoretical aspects of quantum information science, including fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics; mathematical underpinnings of quantum information theory; quantum algorithms; quantum computation; quantum nonlocality; and applications of quantum information theory to other disciplines.

Bristol Quantum Information Institute

Quantum information and its translation into technologies is one of the most exciting research activities in science and technology today. Long at the forefront of the growing worldwide activity in this area, the Bristol Quantum Information Institute crystallises our research across the entire spectrum, from theory to technology. With our expert cross-disciplinary team, including founders of the field, we have expertise in all major areas of theoretical quantum information science and in experiment. We foster partnerships with the private sector and provide superb teaching and training for the future generation of quantum scientists and engineers and the prototypes of tomorrow. Read more on our website: bristol.ac.uk/research/institutes/quantum.

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