Logo: University of Southern California

Ben Reichardt Wins NSF Career Award

USC Viterbi Computer Scientist Undertakes Pioneering Quantum Computing Research
By: Marc Ballon
May 15, 2013 —

Ben Reichardt
USC Viterbi computer scientist Ben Reichardt has received a NSF Career Award, joining computer scientist Yan Liu and chemical engineer Malancha Gupta as the third Viterbi School faculty member this year to land the prestigious prize.

Reichardt, 32, won a $507,000 grant over five years for research on procedures for quantum computation. The NSF award supports the early career development activities of talented up-and-coming scholars.

“We are delighted by Ben Reichardt's NSF CAREER award since it recognizes his significant contributions to quantum computing,” said Sandeep Gupta, Chair of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering - Systems. “More importantly, this award will support Ben's ongoing research that we anticipate to dramatically improve the understanding of quantum entanglement, and to produce powerful protocols for quantum key distribution that will provide unprecedented levels of security in communications.”

Reichardt and his team are designing new algorithms that would allow researchers to find better and fuller ways to leverage quantum computing’s potential. His work, he said, could potentially improve processing and memory storage.

Additionally, Reichardt is working on infrastructure that would, in principle, allow for more secure communication via quantum key distribution systems. It would do so by eliminating side channel attacks. Such enhancements would lead to better and more secure satellite communication, among other benefits.

Reichardt said he enjoys the challenges of working in quantum computing because of the many research possibilities in the nascent and wide-open field.

“I don’t know exactly how long before quantum computers are built, but it seems like a really good time to be working on them,” Reichardt said.

He also likes that his quantum computing work combines math, computer science, electrical engineering and physics, allowing him to cross traditional academic boundaries and work with academics in a variety of disciplines. “I get bored easily,” Reichardt said with a laugh.

A San Francisco native, he earned a Bachelor of Science in math at Stanford University in 2001 and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Quantum Information, California Institute of Technology from 2006 to 2008.

Reichardt then headed north to Canada, where he became an assistant professor at the School of Computer Science and Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. After nearly four years there, Reichardt joined USC in January 2012.

He said working at USC has given him the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded scholars working on quantum computing.

“And unlike in Canada, I can go running outside every day here in Southern California,” Reichardt quipped.