Bob Coecke (born 23 July 1968) is a Belgian theoretical physicist and logician who was professor of Quantum foundations, Logics and Structures at Oxford University until 2020, when he became Chief Scientist of Cambridge Quantum Computing, and after the merger with Honeywell Quantum Systems, Chief Scientist of Quantinuum. In January 2023 he also became Distinguished Visiting Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. He pioneered categorical quantum mechanics (entry 18M40 in Mathematics Subject Classification 2020), Quantum Picturalism,[4] ZX-calculus, DisCoCat model for natural language,[5] and quantum natural language processing (QNLP). He is a founder of the Quantum Physics and Logic community and conference series, and of the applied category theory community, conference series, and diamond-open-access journal Compositionality.

Bob Coecke
Bob Coecke.jpg
Bob Coecke
Born (1968-07-23) 23 July 1968 (age 54)
Alma mater
Known forCategorical quantum mechanics, ZX-calculus, DisCoCat, quantum natural language processing, dagger compact categories
Scientific career
ThesisHidden Measurement Systems (1996)
Doctoral advisor
  • Diederik Emiel Aerts
  • Jean Reignier[3]

Education and careerEdit

Coecke obtained his Doctorate in Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 1996,[3] and performed postdoctoral work in the Theoretical Physics Group of Imperial College, London in the Category Theory Group of the Mathematics and Statistics Department at McGill University in Montreal, in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics of Cambridge University, and in the Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford.

He was an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow at the Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford, where he became Lecturer in Quantum Computer Science in 2007, and jointly with Samson Abramsky built and headed the Quantum Group, which in 2020 had well over 50 members. In 2009, he worked as visiting scientist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.[6] In July 2011, he was nominated professor of Quantum Foundations, Logics and Structures at Oxford University, with retroactive effect as of October 2010. He was a Governing Body Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford since 2007, where he now is an Emeritus Fellow.[6][7][8]

In January 2019 he became Senior Scientific Advisor of Cambridge Quantum Computing, and in January 2021 he resigned from his Professorship at Oxford, to become Chief Scientist of Cambridge Quantum Computing. After the merger of Cambridge Quantum Computing with Honeywell Quantum Systems, he stayed on as Chief Scientist of the joint entity Quantinuum.

In January 2023 he also became Distinguished Visiting Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.


Coecke's research focuses on the foundations of physics, more particularly category theory, logic, and diagrammatic reasoning, with application to quantum informatics, quantum gravity, and NLP.[9] He has pioneered categorical quantum mechanics together with Samson Abramsky, and spearheaded the development of a diagrammatic quantum formalism based on Penrose graphical notation, on which he wrote a textbook entitled Picturing Quantum Processes with Aleks Kissinger. With Ross Duncan he pioneered ZX-calculus. He pioneered the DisCoCat model for natural language, with Stephen Clark and Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh. He also pioneered quantum natural language processing (QNLP), with Will Zeng and colleagues at Cambridge Quantum Computing.

Media receptionEdit

The work of Coecke and his co-workers on the application of categorical quantum mechanics to natural language processing in computational linguistics was featured in New Scientist in December 2010.[10] The work on quantum natural language processing was featured in the Quantum Daily in December 2020 and in PhysicsWorld in January 2021.[11][12]


  • Bob Coecke, Aleks Kissinger:Picturing Quantum Processes. A First Course in Quantum Theory and Diagrammatic Reasoning, Cambridge University Press, 2017, ISBN 978-1316219317
  • Bob Coecke, Stefano Gogioso:Quantum in Pictures, Quantinuum, 2022, ISBN 978-1-7392147-1-5
Books (as editor)
  • Bob Coecke (ed.): New Structures for Physics, Lecture Notes in Physics 813, Springer, 2011, ISBN 978-3642128202
  • Bob Coecke, David Moore, Alexander Wilce (eds.): Current Research in Operational Quantum Logic: Algebras, Categories, Languages, Fundamental Theories of Physics, Kluwer Academic, 2010, ISBN 978-9048154371
Articles (selection)
  • Konstantinos Meichanetzidis, Alexis Toumi, Giovanni de Felice, Bob Coecke: Grammar-Aware Question-Answering on Quantum Computers, arXiv:2012.03756
  • Bob Coecke: The Mathematics of Text Structure, arXiv:1904.03478
  • Will Zeng, Bob Coecke: Quantum Algorithms for Compositional Natural Language Processing, arXiv:1608.01406
  • Bob Coecke, Tobias Fritz, Robert Spekkens: A mathematical theory of resources, arXiv:1409.5531
  • Bob Coecke: An Alternative Gospel of structure: order, composition, processes, arxiv:1307.4038
  • Bob Coecke, Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh, Steven Clark: Mathematical Foundations for a Compositional Distributional Model of Meaning, arXiv:1003.4394
  • Bob Coecke: Quantum Picturalism, arXiv:0908.1787
  • Bob Coecke, Ross Duncan: Interacting quantum observables, Automata, Languages and Programming, pp. 298–310, 2008
  • Bob Coecke: Kindergarten quantum mechanics, arXiv:quant-ph/0510032
  • Samson Abramsky, Bob Coecke: A categorical semantics of quantum protocols, Proceedings of the 19th Annual IEEE Symposium on Logic in Computer Science, 2004, pp. 415–425
Software articles
  • Eduardo Reck Miranda, Richie Yeung, Anna Pearson, Konstantinos Meichanetzidis, Bob Coecke: A quantum natural language processing approach to musical intelligence, arXiv:2111.06741
  • Dimitri Kartsaklis, Ian Fan, Richie Yeung, Anna Pearson, Robin Lorenz, Alexis Toumi, Giovanni de Felice, Konstantinos Meichanetzidis, Stephen Clark, Bob Coecke: lambeq: An efficient high-level python library for quantum NLP, arXiv:2110.04236
  • Giovanni de Felice, Alexis Toumi, Bob Coecke: Discopy: monoidal categories in Python, arXiv:2111.06741

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bishop, Christopher (7 December 2022). "Quantum Tech Pod Episode 40: Quantinuum Chief Scientist Bob Coecke". Inside Quantum Technology News. Retrieved 12 December 2022. So I grew up in a town in Belgium [...] you would have heard [of] the beer they produce, maybe, it's called Duvel [...] So that's my hometown beer.
  2. ^ Bob Coecke publications indexed by Google Scholar
  3. ^ a b Bob Coecke at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ Coecke, Bob; Kissinger, Aleks (16 March 2017). Picturing quantum processes : a first course in quantum theory and diagrammatic reasoning. ISBN 978-1107104228. OCLC 1026174191.
  5. ^ Coecke, Bob; Sadrzadeh, Mehrnoosh; Clark, Stephen (2011), Mathematical Foundations for a Compositional Distributional Model of Meaning, arXiv:1003.4394
  6. ^ a b Bob Coecke, Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford (downloaded 1 April 2012)
  7. ^ Faculty Computing Laboratory at the University of Oxford (downloaded 1 April 2012)
  8. ^ College Officers, Governing Body Fellows & Visiting Scholars, Wolfson College, University of Oxford (downloaded 1 April 2012)
  9. ^ Bob Coecke, LinkedIn (downloaded 1 April 2012)
  10. ^ Jacob Aron: Quantum links let computers understand language, New Scientist, 11 December 2010, p. 10–11 (abstract)
  11. ^ Swayne, Matt (10 December 2020). "'Meaning Aware' Computers: CQC Researchers Make Major NLP Advance in Using Quantum Computers to Understand Language and Towards Achieving Meaningful Quantum Advantage". The Quantum Daily. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  12. ^ Johnston, Hamish (7 January 2021). "Processing natural language using quantum computers, listening to the oceans' myriad sounds". Physics World. Retrieved 19 March 2021.

External linksEdit