QIRG: Quantum Internet Research Group


The IRTF conducts work in what are known as Research Groups. Its goal is to bring the best networking research to the attention of the IETF so that it can be incorporated into Internet design and operation. The IRTF, has created a Quantum Internet Research Group.

1,200 people are gathered in London right now for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF, ietf.org) meeting that happens thrice a year. IETF's sister organization, the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF, irtf.org) generally meets with them. IRTF conducts work both in person and online, via mailing lists, in what are known as Research Groups. IRTF is *pre-standardization*; any RFCs (Request for Comments documents in formal form) are either Experimental or Informational. IRTF's goal is to bring the best networking research to the attention of the IETF so that it can be incorporated into Internet design and operation.

The IRTF, after the request of Rod van Meter and Stephanie Wehner, has created a Quantum Internet Research Group (QIRG). There was a presentation of QIRG by Rod van Meter, slides here.

A mailing list has been created, and we'd love it if you would sign up for it:


Volume is expected to be modest, but you can sign up for digest delivery instead of getting every message independently, if you'd like.

The first tasks are:

  • Hammer out a proposed charter: IRTF RGs don't live forever. They are broader than IETF Working Groups, but still need a charter establishing the focus.
  • Outputs are very flexible, could be e.g. a journal special issue or Experimental RFCs (Request for Comments, the IETF standards) to aid interoperability, though it's early for that.
  • Get the Internet Research Steering Group (IRSG) to approve the RG. This takes some doing, including evidence that the RG will be active and has a goal.
  • Pick chairs for the RG.

Below is the placeholder text Rod created to describe the group, until we get a more formal charter in place. Work toward a Quantum Internet is well underway in physics laboratories and in theory groups. The next step is network engineering. Some of the problems we hope to address include:

  • routing: there are a number of proposals, including a couple in the last six months or so, and which routing schemes are appropriate for which circumstances needs to be assessed
  • resource allocation: some of the routing proposals seem to be including a notion of the dynamic traffic on the network, but this distinction needs to be defined clearly
  • connection establishment: what does a request look like (semantics more than syntax) as it propagates across the network?
  • interoperability: given than different networks are currently being designed and built, how do we ensure a long-lived internetwork develops?
  • security: are quantum repeater networks inherently more or less vulnerable in operations than classical networks?

There are also other problems:

  • applications for a Quantum Internet: by far the most important on the agenda is figuring out what we would *do* with a Quantum Internet, including what data rates and fidelities are required (otherwise, there is no market for a QI)
  • multi-party states and multi-party transfers such as network coding: rather than simple, independent point-to-point transfers, how can we create and use more complex states?