[DL] Fully-funded PhD Position Quantum Annealing for SAT solving

Franconi Enrico franconi at inf.unibz.it
Tue Jun 2 16:18:25 CEST 2020

One PhD Student Position in Information and Communication Technologies on the research project:

"Making Quantum Annealing Useful for Real: Compiling Effectively and Efficiently Very-Hard Combinatorial Problems into Ising Problems"

is available at International Doctorate School in Information and Communication Technologies (http://www.ict.unitn.it/) of the University of Trento, ITALY.

PROPONENT/SUPERVISOR: Prof. Roberto Sebastiani
(email: roberto.sebastiani at unitn.it<mailto:roberto.sebastiani at unitn.it>, url: http://disi.unitn.it/rseba)
in collaboration with: D-Wave Systems Inc., Burnaby (CA) (http://dwavesys.com).

URL: https://ict.unitn.it/education/admission/reserved-topic-scholarships#C2

SPONSORED BY: "Q at TN Project" (https://www.quantumtrento.eu/)


DURATION & SUPPORT: Ph.D. program will start in late Autumn 2020, and the thesis must be completed in three-four years. The selected student should be available for an internship (e.g. 3-month) at D-Wave, in Vancouver (CA). People enrolled in Ph.D. courses are expected to move to Trento, and will receive monetary support during the phases of their activity.


We plan to investigate the usage of quantum annealers (QAs) "for real", that is, to actually solve very-hard though relatively-small SAT/MaxSAT problems (and eventually SAT/MaxSAT-encoded Constraint-Satisfiability/Optimization problems). The idea is to develop encodings from SAT/MaxSAT to Ising-minimization problems which fit into, and can be solved by, D-Wave's Pegasus QAs (or other QAs, when/if available). These encodings must be performed both effectively (i.e., in a way that uses only the limited number of qubits and connections available within the QA topology, while optimizing the performance of the QA algorithm), and efficiently (i.e., using a limited computational budget for computing the encoding).

This work is intended as a follow up of ongoing activity in collaboration with D-Wave Systems Inc. The PhD candidate initially will extend the approach we have begun with D-Wave's Chimera topology. The main encoding scheme consists of a combination of offline and on-the-fly processes, the former performed by means of automated reasoning procedures (SMT, OMT), the latter by means of place-and-route or graph-embedding procedures.

The encoded problems will be tested on D-Wave's new Pegasus quantum annealers. The ultimate goal is to solve by QAs problems which are very challenging or even out of the reach of current SAT/MaxSAT tools. We envisage an internship at D-Wave.


The ideal candidate should have an MS or equivalent degree in computer science or engineering, mathematics or electronic engineering, and combine solid theoretical background (algorithms, logic) and excellent software development skills.
Background knowledge and/or previous experience is requested in at least one the following areas (in order of preference):
- Satisfiability Modulo Theories (SMT)
- Propositional Satisfiability (SAT)
- Automated reasoning and Computational Logic
- Constraint Solving and Optimization
- Graph manipulation Algorithms
- Operational Research

The candidate should be able to work in a collaborative environment, with a strong commitment to reaching research excellence and achieving assigned objectives.


Interested candidates should both:

1) inquire for further information and/or apply by sending email to roberto.sebastiani at unitn.it<mailto:roberto.sebastiani at unitn.it>, indicating "PHD on Q at TN Project" in the subject. Applications should contain a statement of interest, with a Curriculum Vitae, and possibly names & addresses of up to three reference persons. PDF format is strongly encouraged. Emails will be automatically processed and should have as subject the sentence: 'PHD ON Q at TN PROJECT'. (Emails not complying with the above format have high chances to be ignored.)

2) apply to the international call of the ICT school of DISI (http://ict.unitn.it) indicating explicitly your choice for grant C2. Application Deadline: June 15th 2020.


  Software Engineering & Formal Methods Research Program
  DISI, University of Trento,
  via Sommarive 14, I-38100 Povo, Trento, Italy
  mailto: roberto.sebastiani at unitn.it<mailto:roberto.sebastiani at unitn.it>
  url: http://disi.unitn.it/rseba/
  CV: http://disi.unitn.it/rseba/inglcurr.pdf


University of Trento (http://www.unitn.it/en) has been recognized as the best university in Italy and #36 in Europe by Europe Teaching Rankings 2018 of Times Higher Education (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/rankings/europe-teaching/2018#!/page/0/length/50/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/undefined). DISI (http://disi.unitn.it) has been recognized among the top three ICT University Department in Italy. DISI currently consists of ~40 faculties, ~70 research staff and support people, ~20 postdocs and ~140 Doctoral students, plus administrative and technical staff. DISI covers all the different areas of information technology (computer science, telecommunications, and electronics) and their applications.


D-Wave (www.dwavesys.com<http://www.dwavesys.com>) is the world's only commercial supplier of quantum computers. D-Wave's systems are being used by some of the world's most advanced organizations and D-Wave is the leader in the development and delivery of quantum and hybrid quantum-classical computing systems and software. D-Wave's technology is focused on annealing-based quantum computing.


Trento is a lively town of about 100.000 inhabitants, located 130 km south of the border between Italy and Austria. It is well known for the beauty of its mountains and lakes, and it offers the possibility to practice a wide range of sports. Trento enjoys a rich cultural and historical heritage, and it is the ideal starting point for day trips to famous towns such as Venice or Verona, as well as to enjoy great naturalistic journeys. Detailed information about Trento and its region can be found at http://www.trentino.to/home/index.html?_lang=en.


You may be wondering whether your application to the PhD programme will be affected by the COVID-19 emergency. The ICT School, DISI and University of Trento is in constant contact with the competent authorities to monitor the development of the COVID-19 emergency to provide the adequate preventive actions for the university community. It is possible that by November 2020, when the PhD programme starts, some restrictive measures may be in place: the university will support new students to go through the initial process as smoothly as possible.

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