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Very rubin observatory, Credit: Rubin Obs/NSF/AURA

Quantum computing pioneers earn Breakthrough Prize

Perimeter congratulates Gilles Brassard, Charles H. Bennett, Peter Shor, and David Deutsch for winning the $3 million Breakthrough Prize.

Four scientists whose research helped launch the quest for quantum computing have been awarded the 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, one of the most prestigious awards in science.

Gilles Brassard, Charles H. Bennett, Peter Shor, and David Deutsch were among the first scientists to recognize the incredible potential in harnessing quantum phenomena for quantum information processing and cryptography.

Four portraits of older men who won a physics prize
From left to right: Gilles Brassard, Charles H. Bennett, Peter Shor, and David Deutsch

Brassard, a long-time Perimeter affiliate based at the University of Montreal, co-created the BB84 protocol for quantum cryptography with Bennett of IBM, who held a Distinguished Visiting Research Chair (DVRC) at Perimeter between 2016 and 2019.

Shor, a Perimeter DVRC between 2012 and 2018, is the namesake of Shor’s algorithm, which demonstrated the ability of quantum computers to tackle factoring tasks intractable for classical computers. Deutsch, of the University of Oxford, formulated a description for a quantum Turing machine and made vital contributions to the development of quantum key distribution.

Speaking with The Globe and Mail in the wake of the announcement, Perimeter Director Robert Myers referred to the winners as "a wonderful choice." 

"Today's prize recognizes a field that's been growing for a long time now and will have an enormous impact on our lives in the coming years,” says Myers. "These are the people who set the foundations for quantum information."

In total, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation awarded more than $15 million (USD) in 2023 prizes spanning fundamental physics, mathematics, and life sciences.

About PI

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement. 

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