In November 2019, we organised the first ever multi-location Quantum Internet hackathon.
The distributed Pan-European Quantum Internet (PEQI) event took place simultaneously in six different cities (nodes) across Europe on 5-6 November 2019:
- The Netherlands: TU Delft (supported by the Quantum Internet Alliance)
- Ireland: Trinity College Dublin (more information on the local PEQI page from Dublin)
- Switzerland: CERN Geneva (more information on the PEQI page from Geneva)
- Italy: University of Padua
- France: CNRS (more information on the PEQI pages from Paris)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: University of Sarajevo (more information on the local PEQI pages from Sarajevo)
A big "thank you" to all organisers, supporters and participants for all of the hard work and good vibes.
All the participating and supporting organisations.
This is the eleventh hackathon that the RIPE NCC has put together, and this time we took on the added challenge of organising six events at the same time. But why did we do this?
There was a lot of interest from organisations who wanted to participate and host the event. And to stay true to the spirit of quantum entanglement, we wanted to involve as many organisations and locations as possible. This also meant that we would minimise travel costs for participants and therefore increase participation.
The technical challenge of connecting all nodes to the same infrastructure was interesting. The team from TU Delft / QuTech provided the solution and published instructions on how to interconnect, and how to install the simulated Quantum Network (SimulaQron).
We also wanted everyone to feel as if they were participating to one big event, even though they were not sharing the same physical space. For that purpose, we set-up a video-link between all of the nodes: Eurovision style.
Figure 2: Our events screen showing the six nodes and the RIPE NCC office (source Twitter)
Content challenges evolved over time. We started with one generic idea generated by QuTech: to implement networking applications that support and use a quantum key distribution (QKD) protocol. Later on, other nodes suggested their own challenges and participants started to exchange ideas even before the event started. Their work is available on GitHub.
Since the Quantum Internet is still really new, most practical results were obtained by sharing existing software and protocols and receiving feedback on how to improve them. Actual bug fixes, additional features and new software were also valuable outcomes of the event. All the links to the produced software were collected on the PEQI2019 pages on GitHub.
However, the most precious results were intangible: the connections that were forged between the 100+ participants. They worked together on cutting-edge technology, cooperated with other brilliant people, both in their own locations and across nodes, and contributed their enthusiasm and energy towards the future of the Quantum Internet.
At the end of the second day, all nodes presented their final results.
The winning team worked on the B92 QKD Protocol. All participants were undergraduate or masters' students. They would like to take this positive experience forward by continuing to work on what they have learned. Invitations were exchanged for visits, and everyone is looking forward to more cooperation in the future.
Introducing the Team Leprechaun International! The team came from different backgrounds and learned a lot over the course of two days. Since the team was small, they were happy to have the possibility to collaborate with other teams across Europe. They worked on the "quantum coin" project.
The group at Padua worked on three different projects, and presented one in detail, while playing the music too :). Their project was called Quantum Hero (inspired by Guitar Hero), a rhythm game developed using a quantum channel generated by Simulaqron. Two players, Alice and Bob, can play together. An entangled note (state) is generated by the server and sent to the two players. Alice measures one note collapsing the state. At this point, Bob knows the measurement made by Alice and does the same. Both players must keep to the rhythm of the music and make measurements in order to violate the Bell's inequality. If they manage to break it, they win.
There were four teams, with more software engineers than physicists:
- One team implemented a quantum byzantine agreement using Protocol Zoo.
- One team worked on oblivious transfer… and managed to demo the game.
- Two teams worked on OpenSSL: QKD API on top of Simulaqron and on top of API.
There were two teams working closely together:
- On the technical side, they encrypted all traffic to create a Quantum VPN, similar to implementing QKD on OpenSSL.
- On the application side, they looked into using a secure channel to transfer personal data and its impact on business dynamics.
- The Quantum Winter Team tried to create secure financial transactions by using quantum technologies as quantum gates (Hadamart, CNOT), quantum protocol (BB-84), quantum properties (entanglement, superposition), and also by using building block techniques (SWAP test, quantum one way function). Their final project was the "Quantum-Cheque Protocol". This project is available on the Quantum Protocol Zoo repository.
- Star Expanders managed to share entanglement all over the network (entanglement routing). It deals with distributing graph states over arbitrary quantum networks using Simulaqron.
- The Magic Team tried to implement the magic square game.
- qnoobs worked on a simple implementation of GHZ-based Quantum Anonymous Transmission. The challenge was for the two participants to share the quantum state without the others knowing. This technology could be used in healthcare where anonymous transmission of sensitive medical data is needed.
Every node shared some of their experiences via different media (GitHub, video, blog posts):
- Sarajevo hosted first Pan-European Quantum Internet Hackathon
- Connect hosts Pan-European Quantum Internet Hackathon
- What Happens at a Quantum Internet Hackathon
- Quantum Key Distribution in OpenSSL
- RIPE NCC reporting on Twitter
- Pan-European Quantum Internet Hackathon 2019 (Paris node)
Cooperation between the RIPE Community and the Quantum Internet Alliance is already two years old:
- It started in 2017 with Stephanie Wehner's presentation at RIPE 74 in Budapest.
- In 2018 we had our first joint hackathon in Amsterdam.
- The 2019 multi-location PEQI event.
And there are already some ideas for 2020:
- Either a Pan-Galactic Hackathon that would include nodes across the world.
- Or #EuroQuantum (like EuroVision).
- Or a #QuantumCaravan: a series of subsequent events where projects build up from one hop to the next.
Please let us know if you are interested in joining these efforts! We have a mailing list for organisers: firstname.lastname@example.org
To stay up-to-date, keep an eye on the hackathon pages on RIPE Labs.
Below you can see the proud PEQI teams in all six locations.
The PEQI Team Delft
The PEQI Team Dublin
The PEQI Team Geneva
The PEQI Team Padua
The PEQI Team Paris
The PEQI Team Sarajevo