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Gili Rosenberg’s Journey: From Cycling across Central America to Solving Optimization Problems at 1QBit

Gili Rosenberg graduated from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev with an undergraduate degree in Physics and went on to earn his Ph.D. in Physics from UBC. After graduation, Gili cycled across Central America and, upon returning to Vancouver, he spent the summer hiking and biking, volunteering as a pick leader with the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project, and networking. This led to a serendipitous meeting with 1QBit’s founders, and shortly thereafter Gili became one of 1QBit’s first team members.

We caught up with Gili to discuss his journey and the exciting projects he is working on.

“[Quantum computing] is going to rock our world! Eventually, but not for a while… Being able to simulate real materials is going to change the way we design them, and the possibilities are endless.”
Gili Rosenberg

How did you end up at 1QBit?

It’s kind of an amusing story. After finishing my Ph.D. in Physics at UBC, I cycled from Panama to Belize with my wife over five months. It was incredible! When we got back, it was summer, and I was in no hurry to find a job. I started networking casually, and that led me in a totally roundabout way to Andrew Fursman and Landon Downs, the founders of 1QBit.

As part of my networking effort, I met a former student of my UBC supervisor for coffee, and he mentioned that he knows someone who had just founded a company doing quantum computing. It was as random as that. I was intrigued, but I really didn’t think it would lead to anything. He set up a meeting for the very next week, where I met Andrew and Landon for a casual conversation—or at least that’s what I thought it was! It was a Friday in September of 2013, not too long after 1QBit was founded. I think the company had about three employees at that point. Anyway, that conversation ended with the question, “How would you like to work for us, starting this Monday?” I think I might have said yes without even asking about the salary… It sounded like an exciting and unique opportunity, so I went for it. Needless to say, in the seven years since then, 1QBit’s hiring process has become quite a bit more involved!

1QBit's Gili Rosenberg

Gili working from home at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is your role at 1QBit?

I’m one of the leads of the Optimization Solutions Team. We develop optimization solutions for clients, as well as products for building such solutions. In the past, at 1QBit, I’ve also worked on machine learning and quantum computing projects, for both clients and internal research.

What are you currently working on?

Much of my effort is on developing a product called FOCUS. I like to refer to it as an “optimization solutions factory”. It’s basically the culmination of 1QBit’s eight-year journey in optimization, distilling everything we have learned into an incredibly flexible and powerful framework for building optimization solutions for clients. I can’t really say too much more, yet…

What excites you about your work?

Let’s talk about optimization. In simple terms, optimization is about finding the best solution in a large set of possible solutions. But a different way of thinking about it is that optimization is about creating something from nothing. For example, optimizing the routes that delivery trucks take can save a bunch of time and money (as well as some greenhouse gas emissions). Where did that saved time and money come from? It’s like magic! And magic is pretty exciting.

Interview with 1QBit's Gili Rosenberg

Gili riding along the east coast of Taiwan.

What do you enjoy most about your position?

I enjoy building things, and gradually I’ve learned to also enjoy helping other people build things. I enjoy thinking deeply about problems, and working with a group of scientific-minded geeks from different disciplines really helps the juices flow.

What is the future of quantum computing?

It’s going to rock our world! Eventually, but not for a while… Being able to simulate real materials is going to change the way we design them, and the possibilities are endless. You know how they say that we have only catalogued a small percentage of the types of organisms on earth? It’s like that—who knows what crazy materials are out there!

What do you do when you are not working?

One of the things I’m really passionate about is travelling by bike. In general, I spend a lot of my time on a bike; we don’t even own a car anymore. Other than that, spending time with my family—my wife and two young children—cooking, baking, skiing, hiking, reading, writing for my blog (Life in MAGIc Land), watching Netflix—the usual things.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Gili.

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