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Systems Lunch

23 Oct
Friday, 10/23/2020 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Virtual via Zoom
Systems Lunch
Speaker: Michael Hicks

Title: A Verified Optimizer for Quantum Circuits

Abstract: Programming quantum computers will be challenging, at least in the near term. Qubits will be scarce, and gate pipelines will need to be short to prevent decoherence. Fortunately, optimizing compilers can transform a source algorithm to work with fewer resources. Unfortunately, the very factors that motivate optimizing quantum compilers make it difficult to test their correctness. Formal methods can help. I will present VOQC, the first fully verified compiler for quantum circuits, written using the Coq proof assistant. Quantum circuits are expressed as programs in a simple, low-level language called SQIR, which is deeply embedded in Coq. Optimizations and other transformations are expressed as Coq functions, which are proved correct with respect to a semantics of SQIR programs. SQIR uses a semantics of matrices of complex numbers, which is the standard for quantum computation, but treats matrices symbolically in order to reason about programs that use an arbitrary number of quantum bits. SQIR's careful design and our provided automation make it easy to write and verify a broad range of optimizations in VOQC, and even allow us to verify correctness properties of interesting source SQIR programs. This is joint work with Kesha Hietala, Robert Rand, Shih-Han Hung, Xiaodi Wu, and Michael Hicks, all at UMD.

Bio: Michael W. Hicks is a Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Maryland, where he has been since 2002, and the CTO of Correct Computation, Inc. (CCI), a role he has held since late 2018. His research interests range over topics in programming languages, computer security, systems, and software engineering. He was the first Director of the University of Maryland's Cybersecurity Center (MC2), and was the elected Chair of ACM SIGPLAN, the Special Interest Group on Programming Languages; he now edits its blog, PL Perspectives, at https://blog.sigplan.org. In ongoing projects he is collaborating with the Checked C project to develop techniques for securing legacy C code; exploring synergies between cryptography and programming languages; developing techniques for better random (fuzz) testing and probabilistic reasoning; and designing high-assurance tools and languages for quantum computing.

No specific background on quantum computing will be needed to understand this talk. Registration and a passcode are required for this event. If you would like to attend this talk and need the Zoom information, please register here to receive Zoom links and passcodes for the Systems Lunch events from Emery Berger.