Professor David Deutsch
Credit: Lulie Tanett

Professor David Deutsch awarded Breakthrough Prize

Quantum information and computation
Atomic and Laser Physics

Professor David Deutsch, Visiting Professor at the Department of Physics at Oxford, is one of four pioneering physicists to receive the 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for work in quantum information. The Breakthrough Prizes are the world’s largest science awards and were founded by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Julia and Yuri Milner, and Anne Wojcicki.

Professor Deutsch laid the foundations of quantum computation. He defined the quantum version of a Turing machine – a universal quantum computer – and proved that it could simulate to arbitrary accuracy any physical system that obeys the laws of quantum mechanics. He showed that such a computer is equivalent to a network of surprisingly few quantum gates – logic gates that harness entanglement and the quantum superposition of many states at once. And he designed the first quantum algorithm that surpasses the best equivalent classical algorithm.

He shares the 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics with Charles H Bennett from IBM Thomas J Watson Research Center, Gilles Brassard from the Université de Montréal and Peter Shor from MIT.

Professor Deutsch comments: ‘I am so pleased that this field is being recognised as not just providing a new mode of computation and a new technology, but a new mode of explanation and understanding of the physical world.’

‘This is an extraordinary achievement and richly deserved; David’s work has made a foundational contribution to the quantum theory of computation and information – he is an inspiration,’ comments Professor Ian Shipsey, Head of the Department of Physics at Oxford. ‘He joins fellow Breakthrough Prize laureates from the Department of Physics at Oxford: Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell received the 2018 Special Breakthrough Prize for fundamental contributions to the discovery of pulsars and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community; and collaborators on the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) and T2K experiments shared the 2016 Breakthrough Prize awarded to five experiments investigating neutrino oscillation.’

'Congratulations to all of the Breakthrough Prize winners, whose incredible discoveries will pave the way for scientific discovery and spur innovation,' said CZI co-founders and co-CEOs Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg. 'These laureates […] are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in research and science, and we’re thrilled to honor their accomplishments.'