One of the most prestigious scientific prizes in the world was awarded to Gilles Brassard, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Operational Research at the Université de Montréal and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Quantum Computing.
Sometimes considered the “Oscars of science”, the Breakthrough price reward scientists from around the world whose contributions to human knowledge are major. The Fundamental Physics category concerns all physicists working on the greatest mysteries of the Universe.
And this year, it is Gilles Brassard who receives the honours, alongside his colleague Charles H. Bennett, from the IBM Research Center in New York State.
“Professor Brassard is a pioneer in quantum computing, a visionary researcher who has wrought a real revolution in his field,” said UdeM Rector Daniel Jutras. This extremely prestigious prize that he receives today rewards his contribution to science and the international significance of his discoveries. It is a source of great pride for the Université de Montréal to have a professor of his caliber within his community.”
Working together for many years, Gilles Brassard and Charles H. Bennett designed in 1984 the first quantum cryptography technique that allows information to be encoded in a strictly confidential manner. An unparalleled evolution at the crossroads of physics and computer science, two disciplines that were previously distant, but which, once brought together, turned out to be two sides of the same coin.
This discovery had considerable repercussions. It has spawned, out of nothing, an entire industry that is expected to reach billions of dollars per year within the next five years. Today, virtually all communications, financial transactions, confidential, but also ordinary emails use quantum cryptography.
Then, in 1993, the two scientists managed with other colleagues to teleport photons a short distance. Quantum teleportation is, without a doubt, the most emblematic effect of quantum information, but also the cornerstone of this technology.
Thanks to their visionary spirit, Gilles Brassard and Charles H. Bennett shaped the future of information processing, physics and computer science in general. Their historic breakthroughs testify to a break with conventional thinking, proving once again that fundamental research brings very tangible benefits to society.
A starred professor… not just a little!
Gilles Brassard is considered one of the most brilliant computer scientists in the world. He began a bachelor’s degree in computer science at the University of Montreal at the age of 13, became an assistant professor there at the age of 24, then a full professor at the age of 33.
A young mathematical prodigy, he received numerous accolades over the years, including the Rank Prize, the Wolf Prize in Physics (often described as the antechamber to the Nobel), the Micius Quantum Prize and the Frontiers of Knowledge Award from the BBVA Foundation.
He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada as well as an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec and the Order of Canada. He is one of the few French-speaking Quebec members of the Royal Society of London, alongside eminent scientists such as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.
In Canada, he was awarded the Killam Prize, the Gerhard-Herzberg Gold Medal from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Marie-Victorin Prize and the Acfas Urgel-Archambault Prize.
English video produced by the Breakthrough Prize organization.
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Gilles Brassard wins a Breakthrough award
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