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Yfke Dulek

PhD at QuSoft

Yfke Dulek
Photo: Yfke Dulek

Interdisciplinary study

‘During my Bachelor’s programme Cognitive Artificial Intelligence at Utrecht University, it became clear that my passion lies in formal sciences. Artificial intelligence is very broad and involves knowledge in skills ranging from computer science and mathematics to philosophy and linguistics. I really enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of the programme, especially because after high school I did not want to commit to one single topic. I did a minor in mathematics and wrote my thesis about learning theory. One of my professors suggested the Master’s programme Logic, because it allows students to dive into formal math, while still maintaining the interdisciplinary flavour.’

Tight community

‘What I like about the programme is that students from all over the world with different backgrounds gather in Amsterdam to study logic, but also form a tight community. Without any exceptions everybody works hard, which was very stimulating for me. Also, the programme is quite small-scale – courses generally ranged from 5 to 25 students – which means there is a lot of opportunity to interact with the teachers and learn about their research. During the project periods in January and June, students have the possibility to work together with the staff at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC). There are very few mandatory courses, so you can really plan your own curriculum, guided by your ILLC mentor.’

‘I started the Master’s programme in the mathematics track, and then slowly transitioned to the theoretical computer science. I especially enjoyed the courses Computational Complexity (what does it mean for a problem to be hard?)  and Information Theory Theory (what is information and how can we quantify it?). At the end of my course period I took the elective Quantum Computing; here we studied a computer architecture that is completely different and potentially much more powerful than current computers. I decided to write my thesis on a related topic. I helped develop an algorithm for secure encryption of quantum data, with specific properties that makes it suitable for applications like cloud computing. This resulted in a paper which I presented at several conferences around the world. Fun fact: my thesis directly builds on results from the first research paper I tried to read in my first month at the UvA. I did not understand much of it back then but apparently, this area of research has been calling my name for years!’

PhD at QuSoft

‘Currently, I work as a PhD candidate at Qusoft, a research centre for quantum software in Amsterdam. My Master’s thesis supervisor is also my PhD supervisor.  We work on extensions and applications of the results of my thesis. This falls into the research area of quantum cryptography, which focuses on security and related tasks for quantum computers. The Master’s programme taught me a lot about this topic and gave me the chance to meet some of the great minds in quantum computing. It gave me great running start in my PhD, by providing me with technical knowledge and valuable research skills.’