Quantum Chemistry with Cambridge Quantum Computing

22/02/2020

By Ellis Ainley

In week 5 of Hilary term we were very happy to be visited by Will Simmons, David Zsolt Manrique and Arianne Meijer from Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC), a leading quantum software company with headquarters in Cambridge. 

The event was hosted in the Oxford Foundry, and began with three talks; Will started with an introduction to quantum computing and the 'variational quantum eigensolver', a quantum algorithm embedded in a classical one to find the lowest energy eigenvector of a state. David's talk focussed on quantum chemistry, explaining fundamental concepts such as the Hartree-Fock energy, and how we can simulate chemistry by mapping fermions onto qubits! Then Will explained the concepts behind 'pytket', CQC's quantum programming package, and talked about some of the challenges and opportunities in the field of quantum software development. 

Next we had break with plenty of coffee and pastries, and the opportunity for socialising and networking between our members and Will, David and Arianne. The workshop attendees came from a range of backgrounds - both undergraduates and graduates, ranging from physicists to chemists and computer scientists, all finding overlaps between their interests and quantum software. 

We were then able to try out solving some problems using pytket, including creating a quantum circuit to calculate the Hartree-Fock energy and other quantum-chemistry themed challenges. 

Our members very much enjoyed finding out about CQC's work, and the world of commercial quantum software, as well as gaining lots of new insights into quantum chemistry.