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Announcing the Winners of QuEra's MIT iQuHack Challenge

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February 7, 2023
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In late January ’23, QuEra conducted its first sponsored challenge in a quantum hackathon. Together with our friends at Amazon Braket and qBraid, we provided access to Aquila in the 2023 issue of MIT's iQuHack. For the first time, a neutral atom quantum processor was accessible in a hackathon challenge.

The goal QuEra brought to the participants was the same that inspires us as a company: to break the boundaries of computing and rethink problem-solving. The challenge we provided the participants to explore that goal: work with atomic geometries in 2D and prepare the largest possible independent set of a fully-connected graph. Solving the problem required (i) using the unique capabilities of neutral atoms to reprogram the connectivity of the qubits and think geometrically about problem-solving and (ii) using the unique capacity to program quantum evolution in an analog way to prepare independent sets efficiently.

We are here to celebrate the winning team, Yale-based "5-headed Cat", with Ben McDonough, Wyatt Kremer, Sofia Fausone, Pranav Parakh, and Alex Deters! Their solution can be seen here and involved a clever use of the Rydberg van der Waals interaction tails to create graphs with well-defined boundary conditions to stitch graphs together for arbitrarily large solutions. We commend 5-headed Cat for their creativity and hacky spirit!

So that all of QuEra's friends know a bit more about these promising scientists, we would like to share with our audience their bios.

Part of the winning submission

Benjamin McDonough

Ben (He/Him) is a Yale junior in the class of 2024. Ben is a physics major with interests in quantum information and condensed matter theory, and he loves the intersection of quantum computing with both emergent and fundamental phenomena in physics. Ben has conducted research into quantum error-correcting protocols, quantum error mitigation techniques, circuit-QED platforms, and continuous-variable quantum computing and is currently working on a project developing a generalized-cat state amplification protocol. He values the interdisciplinary nature of the quantum computing community and currently serves as co-president of the Yale undergraduate Quantum Computing group (YuQC). In his free time, Ben enjoys rock-climbing, learning languages, and playing Flute in the Yale DPops Orchestra.

Wyatt Kremer

Wyatt is a third-year undergraduate Intensive Physics major pursuing an advanced language certificate in Middle Egyptian hieroglyphics at Yale University. His research interests include quantum many-body theory, quantum gravity, field theory, and quantum information technology. He is passionate about physics education and serves as a tutor for the Global Teaching Project, Yale Education Tutoring Initiative, and Yale Center for Language Study. Wyatt was born and raised in Minden, Nevada.

Pranav Parakh

Pranav Parakh is a third-year undergraduate student at Yale University, majoring in Mathematics and Physics with a certificate in Computer Science. Originally from Canada, he is also a researcher in quantum computing at the Quantronics Lab (QuLab) under the direction of Prof. Michel Devoret and is currently working on simulating the behavior of superconducting circuits. Pranav is a project leader with the Yale Undergraduate Quantum Computing society and has been a longstanding member of the Yale Net Impact consulting group. When not doing math, physics, or computer science, Pranav is game for nearly any sport, is a member of the Yale Climbing Team and enjoys playing guitar and piano.

Sofia Fausone

Sofia is a junior at Yale studying Physics and Mathematics + Philosophy. She works in Prof. Howard's quantitative biology lab and has research experience with machine learning analysis in this field, as well as in condensed matter physics. She is especially excited by the relation between mathematical and physical beauty and the use of novel tools to shed light on questions guided by theory. She hopes to pursue theoretical physics and is interested in a variety of topics that address conflicts within our current framework.

Alex Deters

Alexander is a third-year undergraduate at Yale University, dual majoring in intensive physics and intensive mathematics. Originally from Minnesota, he is a researcher in Robert Schoelkopf’s Lab and is currently working on FPGA quantum control for superconducting circuits. Alexander is co-president of the Yale Undergraduate Quantum Computing society, and is particularly excited by the boundary between theory and experiment. After graduation, he hopes to pursue further education in experimental physics. In his free time Alexander participates in Yale’s powerlifting club, brews coffee, and herds goats.

We also commend the runner-up 2nd prize winners, Princeton-based "Braided_Anyons". The team composed of A. Hasan, H. C. Skinker, D. Hustin, G. Zhou, and J. Monas. This team prepared the single-graph largest independent set of all teams, with a whopping 71% of excitation based on a Lieb-like lattice. Congratulations to you as well Braided_Anyons!

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