Quantum Hackathon Sparks Innovation at Cebu Institute of Technology

5 Dec 2023 10:26 AM

Cebu, Philippines—The Cebu Institute of Technology-University (CIT-U) played host to a first-ever event—Quantum Hackathon 2023 on 20 November 2023. This event brought together bright minds, tech enthusiasts, and quantum computing aficionados for a day of collaborative problem-solving and innovation.  

Organized by OneQuantum Philippines, CIT-U, University of San Carlos (USC), DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), and supported by IBM Quantum, the hackathon aimed to test and reinforce the participating team’s understanding of fundamental concepts in quantum computing through a set of puzzles on quantum circuit design using QISKit Blocks.   

Mr. John Gregory B. Escario, Vice President for Administration of CIT-U inaugurated the event, followed by a warm welcome speech by Honorable Atty Raymond Garcia, the Vice Mayor of Cebu City.  

Meanwhile, Dr. Franz A. de Leon, Director of DOST-ASTI, expressed enthusiasm for the significant gathering of bright minds eager to delve into the realm of quantum computing. Recognizing the event as the inaugural quantum computing hackathon in the Philippines, Dr. de Leon emphasized the historical significance and honor associated with being part of this pioneering event.   

The morning session was kicked off with keynote speakers from the quantum computing industry, providing insights into the latest developments and future trends in this rapidly evolving field. These sessions were not only informative but also set the tone for the day's collaborative spirit. 

Mr. Nardo Manaloto, Managing Partner of Qubits Ventures, delved into the topic “Quantum Ecosystem and Investment Opportunities.” In his comprehensive presentation, Mr. Manaloto, with a global perspective, outlined the strategic importance and rapid evolution of quantum computing. Having explored quantum ecosystems worldwide, he delineated quantum computing's critical role in advancing problem-solving, contrasting classical deterministic systems with quantum's probabilistic nature, highlighting its potential to enhance security through post-quantum cryptography and emphasizing its wide-reaching economic impact.   

The next presentation by Mr. Jeffrey A. Aborot discussed the cutting-edge R&D projects and initiatives of DOST-ASTI. Mr. Aborot’s presentation provided a comprehensive overview of the agency and its various projects, products, and services. He emphasized the importance of being at the forefront of education, drawing a parallel to the early days of computing and the emergence of mainframes.   

Brian Siegelwax from One Quantum also discussed “The Current State of Quantum,” providing attendees with an overview of the latest developments and trends in the field, addressing prevalent misconceptions and highlighting key advancements in the field. Mr. Siegelwax emphasized the need to scrutinize information due to the pervasive hype surrounding quantum computing-- stemming from both popular science and profit-driven companies. He cautioned against inflated claims, such as a company in Australia asserting a quantum computer with one (1) billion qubits while struggling with just two in reality.   

The afternoon session kicked off with a hackathon challenge which was based on a MineCraft clone named MineTest.  

Participants were students from several prestigious universities, including the University of the Philippines-Cebu, the University of San Jose-Recoletos, and the University of San Carlos, with two teams each from CIT-U and the University of San Jose-Recoletos. Each team--composed of three students and a coach--faced the challenge of solving as many problems as possible in the QISKit Blocks game within two hours. 

In a fiercely contested competition, the teams hailing from Cebu Institute of Technology - University emerged victorious, securing the first and third positions. The University of San Jose-Recoletos representatives bagged the second place. 

The project entitled “Establishment of Quantum Innovation Laboratory: Optimizing a Decision Diagram-based Free and Open-Source Quantum Circuit Simulator for Benchmarking in an HPC Environment using Entanglement, Random Circuits, and Quantum Algorithms Benchmark Datasets”, or QCS Project, is an initiative for quantum computing research in DOST-ASTI that will serve as the foundation for the succeeding project proposals of the institution in this domain.  

The project will focus on the optimization of available quantum circuit simulators for execution in DOST-ASTI’s COARE HPC facility. Outputs of the project will allow local researchers to execute few-qubit simulation of quantum algorithms for algorithm verification in COARE. Also, knowledge-sharing activities will be conducted to teach/train potential researchers in the domain on how to use the simulators in COARE for their own quantum computing research.