Gilles Brassard Computer hardware and software

Discovered quantum computing techniques that employ quantum entanglement to advance communications and cryptography into the Age of Entanglement. The invention of quantum cryptography and quantum teleportation.

"We are poised to experience a second quantum revolution. The 21st century may be remembered as the Age of Entanglement."

The Story

From his website: Quantum mechanics is perhaps the most successful scientific theory of all times. It teaches us that things do not behave at the microscopic level in ways that we are used to in our everyday macroscopic experience. Information theory and computer science are also very successful, but they are firmly rooted in classical physics, which is at best an approximation of the quantum world in which we live. This has prevented us from tapping the full potential of nature for information processing purposes. Classical and quantum information can be harnessed together to accomplish feats that neither could achieve alone, as outlined below. Quantum computers can perform more parallel computation in a single piece of hardware than would be possible for a classical computer the size of the Universe. They have the potential to bring to their knees most classical cryptographic schemes currently used on the Internet to protect transactions such as the transmission of credit card numbers. Fortunately, quantum cryptography fights back by making it possible to fulfil the cryptographer's age-old dream of unconditional confidentiality in communications. Quantum entanglement, which is the most nonclassical of all quantum resources, can be used to teleport quantum information from one place to another. It enables the accomplishment of distributed tasks with a vastly reduced communication cost. In extreme cases, we can provide inputs to non-communicating participants and have them produce outputs that exhibit classically impossible correlations: This is the mysterious realm of pseudo-telepathy

As A Young Scientist...

From an early age, Gilles was passionate about math. This interest in math was sparked by his older brother, Robert Brassard, who took pleasure in teaching him advanced concepts in mathematics. At age 13 he entered the University of Montreal where he studied computer science and earned a BA in 1972 and an MA in 1975. He continued his studies at Cornell University where he read an article on cryptography. Suddenly passionate about this topic he redirected his PhD studies into this area. He received his Ph.D. in cryptography in 1979, under the supervision of John Hopcroft. He immediately became a professor at DIRO, Department of Computer Science and Operations Research at the University of Montreal, and earned the title of full professor in 1988. His best known works are the foundations of quantum cryptography, quantum teleportation, entanglement distillation of quantum pseudo-telepathy and the classical simulation of quantum entanglement. Some of these concepts are still theoretical, but some have been applied in the laboratory. In 1984, with Charles H. Bennett, Brassard invented the BB84 protocol, a protocol for quantum cryptography. Later, he contributed more to the topic by including the protocol for error correction by cascading, which efficiently detects and corrects the noise caused by an external observer (Eavesdropper) of a quantum cryptographic signal. In 1993, with other researchers, he laid the foundations of quantum teleportation and managed to teleport photons over a short distance. The journal Science considered this to be one of the most important discoveries of the year.

The Person

April 20, 1955
Montreal, Québec (Date is approximate)
Family Members
  • He has two daughters: Alice and Léonore
University of Montreal
  • MSc Université de Montréal, 1975,
  • Ph.D. in Computer Science Cornell University in 1979
  • Prix d'excellence, FRQNT, 2013.
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of London, elected in 2013.
  • Officer of the Order of Canada, appointed in 2013.
  • Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate, 2012.
  • Killam Prize for Natural Sciences, 2011.
  • Foreign Member, Academia Europaea, 2011.
  • Médaille d'or Gerhard-Herzberg en sciences et en génie du Canada, 2009.
  • IACR Distinguished Lecturer, 2008.
  • OCTAS de la Personnalité de l'année en TI au Québec, FiQ, 2007.
  • Prix d'excellence du CRSNG, 2006.
  • Fellow, International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR), 2006.
  • Rank Prize en opto-électronique, 2006.
  • Fellow, Institut canadien de recherche avancée (ICRA), 2002.
  • ISI Highly Cited Researcher, Thomson Scientific.
  • Chaire de recherche du Canada, 2001.
  • Prix Marie-Victorin, 2000.
  • Membre étranger de l'Académie des sciences de Lettonie, 1998.
  • Bourse de recherche Killam, 1997.
  • Membre de l'Académie des sciences, Société royale du Canada, 1996.
  • Personnalité de l'année en sciences et technologie, La Presse, 1995.
  • Prix Steacie, 1994.
  • Prix de l'enseignement de l'Université de Montréal, 1993.
  • “Grand Débrouillard”, Les Débrouillards, mai 1993.
  • Prix Urgel-Archambault, 1992.
Last Updated
December 17, 2015

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