Biography of Jerry M. Chow

Dr. Jerry M. ChowJerry M. Chow is a physicist and one of the world’s leading researchers in quantum computing and information processing. Dr. Chow currently directs the experimental quantum computing division at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in New York. And he serves as IBM’s primary investigator in the Multi-Qubit Coherent Operations program at Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), which conducts quantum computing research with the potential for national intelligence applications.

Dr. Chow will be one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming IEEE International Conference on Quantum Computing and Engineering (QCE20), which will take place 12-16 October 2020. IEEE is hosting this virtual conference as part of the organization’s Quantum Week, an event that will bring the international quantum community together to showcase quantum research, practice, applications, standards, education, and training.

Background in physics and quantum information processing


Dr. Chow graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts in physics and a master of science in applied mathematics from Harvard University. He earned his doctor of philosophy in physics in 2010 at Yale University under Robert J. Schoelkopf.

Doctoral research

While at Yale, Dr. Chow’s research team created superconducting qubits coupled via a cavity bus for the first time. Utilizing supercooled circuits, the team demonstrated a way to coherently transfer quantum states via photon signals between qubits. His research at Yale also involved executing two-qubit algorithms on a superconducting quantum processor.

Quantum computers hold great potential because they take advantage of the unique properties of particles at the quantum level to store information in “superposition.” Unlike a conventional digital circuit, a qubit can store states of zero and one simultaneously. Because of this, the power of computing with qubits grows exponentially: two qubits can store four states, three qubits can store eight states, four qubits can store sixteen, and so forth. Dr. Chow’s research has helped bring quantum computing and its potential one step closer to reality.

Early work at IBM

In 2010, soon after completing his doctor of philosophy, Dr. Chow joined IBM’s experimental quantum computing division, and he went on to colead the division in 2014. In this division, Dr. Chow has led groundbreaking research into quantum error correction (QEC) and quantum machine learning. For example, his team demonstrated the viability of using an all-microwave two-qubit gate on superconducting qubits. The IBM researchers used this type of quantum gate to generate entangled particle states with a lower error frequency than previously achieved, helping to improve QEC.

Notable accomplishments

Advances in quantum computer research

QEC is essential to research efforts aimed at realizing scalable quantum computers. Because quantum entanglement in qubits is subject to decoherence and imperfect controls, quantum gates need to have an error rate below 1 percent for computing to be practical. Chow’s team at IBM made important discoveries that reduced error rates and increased the efficiency of quantum gates.

In a paper titled “Implementing a Strand of a Scalable Fault-Tolerant Quantum Computing Fabric,” which the journal Nature published in 2014, Dr. Chow and his team reported developing a two-dimensional lattice of quantum gates. Using superconducting resonators as the links in this lattice, they proved it was possible to construct a surface code architecture using superconducting qubits at each vertex. They also proved the ability to couple a single qubit to four resonators. This architecture significantly reduced error thresholds, holding great promise for further developments in quantum computing.

Contributions to real-world applications

While Dr. Chow has advanced knowledge of quantum machine learning at IBM, he has also played an important leadership role in the application of this knowledge to real-world products. Notably, for example, he oversaw the release of the IBM Quantum Experience. This online platform makes IBM’s experimental quantum computers available to researchers in the cloud.

Published research and citations

As the article has suggested above, Dr. Chow’s published research has been integral to the development of quantum computing. His most cited scholarly publication, according to Google Scholar, is “Coupling Superconducting Qubits via a Cavity Bus.” Published in 2007, this article summarizes his early work at Yale that demonstrated that superconducting circuits could coherently transfer quantum states via signals between qubits. Using fast control of qubits to switch the coupling effectively on and off, Dr. Chow and his team demonstrated coherent transfer of quantum states between qubits.

Another notable Nature article, “Demonstration of Two-Qubit Algorithms with a Superconducting Quantum Processor,” further expanded on his team’s research at Yale. This publication highlights the team’s work toward creating a two-qubit superconducting processor that could potentially implement Grover’s algorithm and the Deutsch-Jozsa algorithm, two algorithms that create processing problems that conventional computing cannot easily solve.

Current position and work

At IBM’s experimental quantum computing division, Dr. Chow continues to lead groundbreaking research, converting quantum computing theory into practical applications. Some of his recent research, including two of his recent conference papers, is available through the IEEE Xplore database.

For more information on Dr. Chow’s current work, be sure to listen to his upcoming IEEE Quantum Week keynote address. In his talk, “Quantum Circuits: Rocket Fuel for the Future of Quantum Hardware,” he will give an overview of IBM’s effort to increase the performance of core superconducting qubit systems to produce quantum circuits with higher fidelity. Additionally, he will discuss how researchers are working toward quantum applications with these circuits. Registration for Quantum Week is now open.


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