Canberk ’21 Wins NYU-IBM Qiskit Hackathon with “Georg’s Game”

This past February, Alper Canberk ’21, in collaboration with Lawrenceville alumnus Areeq Hasan ’20 and three of Hasan’s classmates at Princeton University, placed first in the NYU-IBM Qiskit Hackathon.

This past February, Alper Canberk ’21, in collaboration with Lawrenceville alumnus Areeq Hasan ’20 and three of Hasan’s classmates at Princeton University, placed first in the NYU-IBM Qiskit Hackathon. Over a span of 24 hours, Canberk and his teammates designed a program entirely from scratch using a quantum computing tool called Qiskit.

Canberk’s team made an online card game called “Georg’s Game: Circuit Showdown.” According to him, the game is “like a quantum version of rock, paper, scissors,” in which players maximize the chance of their and their opponent’s qubits (a type of computing unit) by outputting a value advantageous to them. To accomplish this, “each player has a set of cards, each of which are a ‘gate’ that you can put on your or your opponent’s qubit to modify its probability” of outputting beneficial values. However, since the game involves quantum computing, “you don’t know what’s going on [in the game] until you measure the true outputs, since, [until then], it’s in a superposition—multiple states at once.”

While creating its program, the team faced many challenges. “Coding is a very complicated subject,” Canberk said, “so when there’s multiple people, [coding] gets even harder because it’s hard to convey what’s on your mind to someone else, and when your program has multiple stages, communication becomes even more complicated.” To adapt, the team “assigned independent tasks to each person…and at the end [they] connected the parts together.”

“It’s hard [for us] to come up with good games and make sure they’re balanced…having that good game idea and being able to incorporate quantum computing into it is what I think made the game special,” he concluded.

Reflecting on his win, Canberk said, “I didn’t expect to win at all. We had just started learning Qiskit, and this was just supposed to be an experience. We worked really hard, [so] when we found out [we won], it was great.”

From a young age, Canberk has always been interested in computer science. He described how his interest in computer science became “something in common” between him and his older brother. However, his passion for the subject really took off when he discovered the power programming gave him to “very easily make new websites and tools that directly benefit those around [him].”

Over the past few months, Canberk began learning quantum computing through YouTube videos, using the free Qiskit tool.As for what sparked his interest in quantum computing specifically, he said, “Quantum computing is really bizzare, which makes it fun to tinker with. [The subject] also uses a lot of advanced math that [Hasan and I] had just learned, so it was really fulfilling to be able to implement [it].”

At Lawrenceville, Canberk is the president of the Programming Club, which meets weekly to “learn more about different programming languages and tools, as well as to collaborate on projects such as the Splash website.”

“Programming teaches you how to think. With my club, I hope to have shown my fellow club members new ways of thinking as well as giving them a passion to learn and explore the fields that they are interested in, no matter how complex they are.”

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