The Unitary Fund: Get $2,000 for your open source quantum computing project

W. J. Zeng
2 min readJun 24, 2018


I’m starting a new program to support the development of open source projects for quantum computing.

Large industrial, government [1] [2], and academic efforts in quantum computing are growing globally [3]. Quantum computing hardware and platforms continue to improve [4] [5] [6]. Now there are new opportunities to discover how to best program and use these new machines. As I wrote last year: the first quantum computers will need smart software.

Quantum computing also remains a place where small teams and open research projects can make a big difference. I’ve experienced this myself through leading the open source Forest project at Rigetti Computing as well by watching the growing ecosystem of open projects like QISKit, OpenFermion, ProjectQ, Strawberry Fields, XaCC, and many others. The hackathons and community efforts from around the world are inspiring.

My thesis for what’s happening here is that we are codifying, in open source software, the mathematics of quantum computing that have been developed over the last few decades. This makes the field more accessible and interactive. It allows us to progress faster, together. It is much more effective to stand on the shoulders of giants when you can import them as an API. I wish I’d had these tools in grad school or had support to work on them earlier.

Open quantum computing software can drive the snowballing progress that is central to successfully realizing the potential of the whole [7].

In talks over the last months I’ve found myself emphasizing open areas for the community that are important, and that I wish more folks were working on. These are (1) debugging and developer tools for variational quantum programming, (2) optimizing compilers, (3) application specific tools (like what OpenFermion does for quantum chemistry), and (4) anything that makes it easier to develop for quantum computers. This is just a start and I’m sure there are many other areas.

Today I’m going to start putting my money where my mouth is. I’m offering six cash grants of $2k for proposals through the new Unitary Fund.

Inspired by similar programs I’ve seen, the application and program is as simple as possible. Check it out.

Update: With thanks to John Hering, Jeff Cordova and Nima Alidoust, we now have support for the first nine grants!



W. J. Zeng

Focused on making quantum computers useful asap. $\langle sold|\otimes|worn\rangle+|not sold\rangle\otimes|never worn\rangle/\sqrt{2}$