Horsman, Dominic

Durham University
I work in quantum computer science, at the intersection of computer science and physics. I look at the use of high-level logical languages based in category theory for designing and programming quantum computers, and for quantum error correction.

These languages allow us to expand the available theoretical tools of quantum computing to match hardware and architectural considerations (including networked and non-unitary protocols), as well as covering the procedures of standard circuit notation, and act as a high-level interface to quantum software. My focus is on using the tools of formal reasoning to advance near-term quantum engineering, and to develop new ways of formulating quantum information processing that match the power and possibilities of the devices now being built.

I also have research interests in the broader theory of physical computation, developing AR theory as a foundational framework for computer science. The ultimate goal is to show how novel physics affects our ability to compute and how, in turn, a computational understanding of fundamental reality impacts back physics.

Since completing my Ph.D at Imperial College, London, I have held positions at Hewlett-Packard, Bristol University, Keio University in Japan, Oxford University, and most recently Durham University.



Research areas

Quantum computing:
  • ZX calculus for the design and verification of quantum algorithms
  • Quantum error correction, including lattice surgery and coherent parity check codes
  • Quantum architectures and networks
Physical foundations of computing: 
  • Abstraction/representation theory
  • High-level languages for physics, including quantum causality and thermodynamics



Current PhD student: Joschka Roffe

Previous PhD students: Shota Nagayama, John-Mark Allen, Miriam Backens



‘The Mysteries of the Universe’, Bright Club February 2016



  • D. Horsman, V. M. Kendon, S. Stepney, ‘Abstraction/Representation Theory and the Natural Science of Computation’, in M. Cuffaro and S. Fletcher (Eds.), Physical Perspectives on Computation, Computational Perspectives on Physics, Cambridge University Press (in press) (2018).
  • N. Chancellor, A. Kissinger, S. Zohren, D. Horsman ‘Coherent parity check construction for quantum error correction’ arXiv:1611.08012 v3 (2018).
  • D. Horsman, C. Heunen, M. F. Pusey, J. Barrett, R. Spekkens ‘Can a quantum state over time resemble a quantum state at a single time?’, Proceedings of the Royal Society A 473:20170395 (2017).
  • N. de Beaudrap, D. Horsman, ‘The ZX calculus is a language for surface code lattice surgery ’, presented at the 14th International Workshop on Quantum Physics and Logic (QPL), forthcoming in Proceedings. arXiv:1704.08670 (2017).
  • J. Roffe, D. Headley, N. Chancellor, D. Horsman, V. Kendon ‘Protecting quantum memories using coherent parity check codes’ arXiv:1709.01866 (2017).
  • D. Horsman, V. M. Kendon, S. Stepney, ‘Viewpoint: The Natural Science of Computing’, Communications of the ACM 60(8) 31-34 (2017).
  • J-M. Allen, J. Barret, D. Horsman, C. M. Lee, R. Spekkens ‘Quantum common causes and quantum causal models’, Physical Review X 7:031021 (2017).
  • D. Horsman, ‘The Representation of Computation in Physical Systems’, in EPSA15 Selected Papers, proceedings of the 5the conference of the European Philosophy of Science Association, Springer (2017).
  • D. Horsman, V. M. Kendon, S. Stepney, J. Young, ‘Abstraction and representation in living organisms: when does a biological system compute?’, in G. Dodig-Crnkovic and R. Giovagnoli (Eds), Representation and Reality: Humans, Animals, and Machines, Springer (2017).
  • S. Nagayama, A. G. Fowler, D. Horsman, S. Devitt, R. Van Meter, ‘Surface Code Error Correction on a Defective Lattice’, New Journal of Physics 19(2) 023050 (2017).
  • S. Abramsky, D. C. Horsman, ‘Demonic programming: a computational language for single-particle equilibrium thermodynamics, and its formal semantics’, in Heunen, Selinger, Vicary (ed.s): Proceedings of the 12th International Workshop on Quantum Physics and Logic, EPTCS 195 116. (2015).
  • D. C. Horsman, ‘Abstraction/Representation Theory for heterotic physical computing’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 373: 20140224 (2015).
  • C. Horsman, S. Stepney, R. Wagner, V. M. Kendon, ‘When does a physical system compute?’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A 470:20140182 (2014).
  • C. Heunen, C. Horsman, ‘Matrix multiplication is determined by orthogonality and trace’, Linear Algebra and its Applications 439 (12), 4130–4134, (2013)
  • R. Van Meter and C. Horsman, ‘A blueprint for building a quantum computer’, Communications of the ACM 56(10), 16-25 (2013).
  • T. T. Pham, R. Van Meter and C. Horsman, ‘Optimization of the Solovay-Kitaev algorithm’, Physical Review A 87 (5), 052332, (2013).
  • C. Horsman, A. G. Fowler, S. Devitt, and R. Van Meter, ‘Surface code quantum computing by lattice surgery’, New Journal of Physics 14 (12), 123011 (2012).
  • K. L. Brown, C. Horsman, V. M. Kendon, and W. J. Munro, ‘Layer by layer generation of cluster states’, Physical Review A 85, 052305 (2012).
  • C. Horsman, ‘Quantum picturalism for topological cluster-state computing’, New Journal of Physics 13, 095011 (2011)
  • R. Van Meter, J. Touch, and C. Horsman, ‘Recursive quantum repeater networks’, Progress in Informatics 8, 65-79 (2011)
  • C. Horsman, K. L. Brown, W. J. Munro, and V. M. Kendon, ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle, for robust cluster state generation ’, Physical Review A 83, 042327 (2011)
  • C. Horsman and W. J. Munro, ‘Hybrid hypercomputing: towards a unification of quantum and classical computation’, International Journal of Unconventional Computing 6(5), 417-435 (2010)
  • C. Horsman, ‘An introduction to many worlds in quantum computation’, Foundations of Physics 39(8), 869 - 902 (2009)
  • C. Horsman and V. Vedral ‘Entanglement without nonlocality’ Physical Review A 76, 062319 (2007)
  • C. Horsman and V. Vedral, ‘Developing the Deutsch-Hayden approach to quantum mechanics’ New Journal of Physics 9(5), 12.755 (2007)


Published on February 5, 2018