In Italy the first computer engineer with a thesis on quantum computing

To use the same terminology we should say a quantum leap into the future, the one made by Leonardo Bacciottini, the first Computer Engineer to have dealt with the subject of quantum computing . Hence the definition "quantum engineer" coined by Professor Luciano Lenzini , his supervisor, and recently appeared in the national press.

A leap into the future because the issues of quantum computing are not yet central to the Italian university, on the contrary they remain mostly niche and are little known despite their great importance in the short and medium term.

Quantum computing: what is quantum computing

The bit is the minimum unit of information that characterizes the entire modern computer system. A bit can assume only two values ​​0 or 1, according to the binary system and, in terms of electronics, two states, on or off. This principle fails in quantum computing where the basic information unit becomes the qubit .

The qubit uses some quantum phenomena such as superposition, interference and entanglement to describe its state . While a bit could have only two states, a qubit can have state 0, state 1, or a linear combination of both states. This last characteristic is given by the superimposition of the states, with a certain probability that it is 0 and a certain probability that it is a 1. In practical application this allows on the one hand to represent information with greater ease than in the binary system and on the other hand, superior calculation capabilities.

quantum computing computer engineer
What the support structure of a quantum chip developed by IBM looks like. (Source: IBM)

The aspect linked to the calculation capacity is the heart of today's research because it could lead to the resolution of some problems that still do not find an answer given their computational complexity. Unfortunately, the limits of qubit technology are still linked to their fragility and very much linked to the surrounding environmental phenomena that can make them unstable . A great line of development, therefore, is related to the construction of more reliable hardware and the identification of extremely effective error correction methods.

The new graduates in quantum subjects and future developments

Leonardo Bacciottini was the first recent graduate computer engineer to have dealt with a topic related to quantum computing even if his course of study, like all other Italian students, was essentially centered on classical subjects. For this Leonardo also had to recover previous knowledge relating to quantum mechanics that he had not addressed in the curricular path.

The words of Professor Lenzini give good hope that in the near future quantum computing will enter Italian degree courses, like the other classical disciplines. In fact, as stated in the articles published online, IBM plans to release a 1,121 qubit quantum computer by 2023 . But the final goal is much more ambitious: this first milestone will only serve to refine skills with the aim of making quantum technology marketable.

The large IT companies are already at work in the race to win over the emerging quantum market and Italy is also working on the issue with its researchers. As pointed out by the professor, the work promoted by the National Research Council (CNR) and the University of Pisa seems to bear great fruit as it happened about 50 years ago when Italy was connected to the Internet for the first time .

In conclusion, the hope is that this new branch of information technology will increasingly take over in Italy and that we can ride the wave of innovation, without arriving "late" and falling behind in research.

The article In Italy the first computer engineer with a thesis on quantum computing comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .