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Past Winner
2009 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering

Gilles Brassard

Computer Science

Université de Montréal

Gilles Brassard
Gilles Brassard

Ranking among the most influential computer scientists in the world, Gilles Brassard is recognized as the founder of quantum information science in Canada and one of its earliest pioneers worldwide. Through his visionary thinking and groundbreaking research, he has played a pivotal role in transforming this field from what initially appeared to be a fringe pursuit into an exciting and dynamic research area in which quantum mechanics is exploited in novel methods to enhance our information-processing capabilities in ways previously thought to be impossible.

Professor Brassard's most celebrated breakthroughs are the invention of quantum cryptography and quantum teleportation, both universally recognized as fundamental cornerstones of the entire discipline. His other influential discoveries include privacy amplification, entanglement distillation and amplitude amplification.

Quantum cryptography, hailed in the February 2003 issue of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Technology Review as one of the "10 emerging technologies that will change the world," makes it possible to communicate in perfect secrecy under the nose of an eavesdropper who has unlimited computational power and whose technology is restricted only by the laws of physics.

Quantum entanglement is the most strikingly non-classical of all quantum phenomena. When two particles become entangled, they behave as a single entity, even when separated by arbitrary distances. In collaboration with various colleagues, Professor Brassard discovered quantum teleportation, according to which entanglement can be harnessed to transmit quantum information through a classical channel. When combined with entanglement distillation, quantum information can be transmitted faithfully over noisy quantum channels.

The author of three books, translated into eight languages, and former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Cryptology, Professor Brassard's papers and books have been cited more than 15,000 times. Among his many honours, he is the first Canadian to have been elevated to the rank of Fellow by the International Association for Cryptologic Research.