Read the Quantum Software Manifesto

Given the recent rapid advances in quantum hardware, it is urgent that we step up our quantum software efforts. In this document, we discuss the status, outlook and specific challenges of topics important to the quantum software field, such as the design of quantum algorithms and quantum communication protocols, error correction and quantum device verification.

Quantum computers are based on a completely new paradigm and promise solutions to problems that will never be solvable with classical computers, including some that will substantially influence future technologies such as solving hard optimisation problems and predicting the properties of materials (such as catalysts and molecules) even before they have been synthesised.

Although developing quantum computer hardware is clearly important, we currently only have a rough idea of the potential applications, even though they will be key to the economic success of quantum computers. It is thus at least as important to discover which problems actually can benefit from a quantum computer and which applications would be the most useful, and develop new quantum algorithms to solve these problems.

Most current quantum algorithms assume an ideal quantum computer with many qubits that can hold their information indefinitely and which can mutually interact. We are likely at least a decade from achieving these goals, so, in the short term, we have to find real-world applications that can benefit from the small, noisy quantum computers that will soon be available. This will determine whether the quantum revolution is imminent, or will only occur in the medium term.

This also means that quantum computer architectures will have to be optimised for the applications at hand if they are to be useful. This is just one of the reasons why quantum computer hardware and algorithm/software developers will need to work much more closely together than at present. Increased collaboration between academics and industrial partners is also vital.

Quantum computing education is also crucial. Although Europe has world-class quantum software research groups, few people can currently develop quantum computer software and education programmes need to be set up, both at university level and in industry.

We believe that Europe is ideally positioned to take on these challenges. The Flagship Initiative on Quantum Technologies aims to place Europe at the forefront of the second quantum revolution and bring transformative advances to science, industry and society. Achieving these high ambitions, however, will require increased awareness of and support for all these aspects of quantum software, and that is the goal of this Manifesto.