Boundless mind

At Amsterdam Science Park, we believe knowledge has no borders. That’s why you’ll find cutting-edge institutes, top-class facilities and business incubators in one convenient location. You’ll meet motivated students, innovative researchers, talented scientists and adventurous entrepreneurs – all in an environment where it’s easy to work together. Cross-disciplinary initiatives and holistic thinking flourish. Ground-breaking research projects become successful spin-offs. That’s the strength of Amsterdam Science Park: connecting boundless minds.

Harry Buhrman

Harry Buhrman heads QuSoft, the new Dutch research centre for quantum software. He is also Professor of Computer Science at the University of Amsterdam, and leads the CWI’s research group Algorithms and Complexity.

“We recently launched QuSoft at Amsterdam Science Park in order to explore the potential of quantum computing by developing software applications. It’s a joint initiative of CWI (the national research institute of mathematics and computer science), the University of Amsterdam and VU Amsterdam.

“Amsterdam Science Park is playing a leading role in quantum computing”

“I first encountered quantum computing in the 1990s, having studied for my PhD in computer science in Amsterdam and at Boston University in the USA, and done postdoctoral work in Barcelona. I was immediately fascinated by the idea. Quantum computing is radically different from computing as we know it, being based on the strange laws of quantum mechanics, that tell us that systems and particles can be in two states at once."

“What everybody wants to know about quantum computing is what can it do? The short answer is, we don’t really know yet. Beyond some applications that have already been identified, like cryptography and computer security, we believe it will allow us to solve problems more efficiently, and tackle different kinds of calculations. We will potentially be able to do really big calculations, far beyond what today’s ‘Newtonian’ computers are capable of."

“My ambition for QuSoft is for it to be an important research institute”

“We started QuSoft because we saw that lots of energy is going into developing quantum computer hardware, but not much into software – a similar mistake as was made in the early days of classical computers. It’s essential to prepare the ground for quantum programming, as once quantum computers become viable, an important part of cryptography could become insecure overnight."

“At QuSoft, we don’t yet have a quantum computer to try out our programs on, but we can simulate small systems. There’s a long way to go with hardware development. We are so far up to proof-of-principle systems about 10 qubits in size – the qubit is the quantum version of a bit, which differs from a bit by being in a superposition of two states simultaneously. Once we reach systems of 300 qubits, we will see some amazing applications. So far, it seems that quantum computers will be useful for simulating quantum mechanical systems. They could therefore help us to understand processes in biology, for example, that have so far proved too complex to study.

“Quantum could be the next big thing in computing”

“Quantum could be the next big thing in computing. We are at the end of Moore’s law – the doubling of overall processing power every two years – so we need a new solution. At QuSoft we have 20 people working on quantum computing and have the ambition to grow to 50 within 5 years. As a professor, I’m already thinking about how we can adapt educational programs to accommodate quantum computing. If it becomes standard, then lots of learning will have to change."

 “It’s really exciting to be able to shape what happens next in this new technology, and Amsterdam Science Park is playing a leading role in the field. What is of the utmost importance is that we tap into lots of different disciplines here – physics, maths, biology, chemistry, and even law because of the security issues. These disciplinary intersections are where the most interesting things happen. While in Europe most funding so far is governmental, I think it’s vital that industry gets involved. My ambition for QuSoft is for it to be an important research institute, with spin-off start-ups and strong links to both the academic and business worlds.”