VUB alumnus Bob Coecke to head Cambridge Quantum Computing

VUB alumnus Bob Coecke to head Cambridge Quantum Computing

Pioneer in quantum computing and AI

VUB physicist Bob Coecke has been appointed Chief Scientist of the renowned company Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC), a global leader in quantum software and algorithms. Coecke is a pioneer in the field of categorical quantum mechanics and quantum computing.

Bob Coecke’s academic career started at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where he studied theoretical physics and obtained his PhD in 1996. It continued at Imperial College London, McGill University in Montreal, Cambridge University and Oxford University. Coecke’s research focuses on fundamental physics, in particular category theory (mathematics), logic and graphical reasoning. He pioneered categorical quantum mechanics, the development of an entirely pictorial quantum formalism and computational linguistics.

He founded the Quantum Group at the Department of Computer Science at Oxford University, one of the first and largest quantum computing research groups in the world. He is co-founder of the conferences Quantum Physics and Logic and Applied Category Theory, and of the journal Compositionally. He co-authored Picturing Quantum Processes, a book that is now greatly influencing the quantum industry.

To take up the position at CQC, Coecke is leaving Oxford University after more than 20 years. However, he will remain in Oxford, as CQC has opened a campus there, on Coecke’s request. Coecke was already a scientific advisor there, focusing on developing and building quantum natural language processing.

Coecke: “Twelve years ago I was the first to write about quantum natural language processing; today I can implement it on a real quantum computer. After more than two decades of shaping the foundations of quantum computing, through CQC I now want to be part of the process of bringing quantum computers into the ‘real world’ and lead the responsible development of quantum AI.

Coecke is also in contact with VUB’s AI lab, for a collaboration that combines Coecke’s two loves: music and computing. “I was at VUB just last year to meet Professor Geraint Wiggins of the AI Lab,” he says. “Geraint is a scientist and composer who researches music from an AI perspective. I am a musician myself and am now starting to make music with the help of quantum computers. At VUB, I founded the Music and Experiment student group and have played in the KultuurKaffee many times.”

PodCast interview PhysicsWorld, a major physics society magazine:  


Bob Coecke

Cambridge Quantum Computing



The Artificial Intelligence Lab of  the Vrije Universiteit Brussel was founded in 1983 by Prof. Luc Steels and is headed by Prof. Dr. Ann Nowé. The research in the Lab is mainly organised around 2 major lines of research: the evolution of language and communication systems and multi-agent reinforcement learning, data mining and computational biology. These techniques are applied in a wide variety of domains, including telecom, health, mobility, media and energy. In addition, the Lab is also investigating other AI techniques such as Computational Creativity and Knowledge Representation.

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