U. de Concepción students win the international quantum computing hackathon


Qiskit Fall Festival Mexico IPN was recently held, an event sponsored by IBM Quantum. The activity promotes teamwork to create projects using the Qiskit platform, which allows you to manipulate and create quantum programs and write open source code for quantum computing.

In this context, a team of five students from the University of Concepción, who are currently carrying out their postgraduate studies in the laboratories of the Millennium Institute for Optical Research, MIRO, was the winner in the different challenges and categories presented by the event. They are Sebastián Ayala, Antonio Guerra, Felipe Quinteros, Letícia Lira and Mariano Uria.

The event lasted for two weeks, starting with workshops and talks with Qiskit experts and IBM officials, followed by challenges and competitions. The UdeC team participated with the project “Chasing local realism with Qiskit”.

“With this work we participated in two categories: “IBM hackathon” and “Quantum Universal Education”, obtaining first place in the latter,” says Letícia Lira, who is doing a PhD at UdeC, under the guidance of Stephen Walborn , Associate Researcher at MIRO.

“The design we present implements any Bell-type inequality in the form of quantum circuits using Qiskit. To develop this project, we divided the work among all of us, where we concentrated on different things such as developing the core of the project, developing graphic tools, writing the theoretical foundations and examples of using and implementing a game based on Bell’s inequalities,” explains Mariano Uria, PhD student under the joint supervision of MIRO researcher and academic of the University of Chile, Carla Hermann, and academic Pablo Solano (UdeC). Additionally, the team took second place in the “IBM Hackathon” category.

As Letícia points out, this event is the first of its kind that she has attended and it has been a very enriching experience “especially since my colleagues had many skills in other sectors that complemented the experience I have. Our team knew how to distribute the tasks of what everyone was capable of doing in their area of ​​greatest knowledge, in order to maximize our working time. And so, in just one week, we were able to implement a project that had a very good evaluation ”, she expresses.

Added to this is Mariano’s participation in the “Challenge” category, where he won first place in the “Xanadu Challenge”, a challenge that consisted of finding unknown parameters in the decomposition of a quantum gate.

“For this I used quantum machine learning methods, which I learned during the interviews, and created a cost function to minimize.”

For this work Mariano won first place with a friend and also took second place in the “Entropica Labs” challenge.

“A friend and I developed a method to initialize the QAOA algorithm that they implemented in their package. For this I generated an initialization with sine and cosine functions whose arguments depended on the number of stages of the algorithm, modulated by an exponential function,” he explains.

Mariano points out that the team project was demanding, “the development of the project took us days and the coordination was complicated at the beginning, but it was nice to have such reliable colleagues and the pleasant atmosphere that was created. I learned a lot about quantum machine learning and how to develop such projects for the community. Likewise, when I contacted the speakers, they were very kind in answering any of my questions. MIRO has been of great help since I started my research, which is based on engineering quantum states. With the help of the institute I was able to start my doctorate, with which I learned a lot during this time and I am very grateful for it”, reflects the future doctor of physics.

For her part, Leticia also comments on how demanding the task is.

“Quantum computing is an area that takes a lot of effort to learn and understand. It’s always a challenge to learn new tools, like a programming language and a new platform, like Qiskit. At least for me, I’ve never had contact with it before, because it’s something relatively new in our area. It was a completely new and super stimulating experience… MIRO has provided us with a very favorable environment to develop this type of business, both in terms of infrastructure where we can meet and develop ideas, and in terms of financial support when needed. This is very important for a good performance in any activity of our scientific training”, concludes the PhD student.

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