Bob Coecke (born 1968) is a Belgian theoretical physicist and logician who was professor of Quantum Foundations, Logics and Structures at Oxford University till 2020, and is now Chief Scientist of Cambridge Quantum Computing. He is a pioneer of categorical quantum mechanics (now an entry in Mathematics Subject Classification 2020), Quantum Picturalism,[3] ZX-calculus, DisCoCat model for natural language,[4] and quantum natural language processing (QNLP). He is a founding father of the Quantum Physics and Logic community and conference series, 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 53)
Alma mater
Known forCategorical quantum mechanics, ZX-calculus
Scientific career
ThesisHidden Measurement Systems (1996)
Doctoral advisor
  • Diederik Emiel Aerts
  • Jean Reignier[2]

Education and careerEdit

Coecke obtained his Doctorate in Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 1996,[2] 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.[5] 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.[5][6][7]

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.


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.[8] 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.[9] The work on quantum natural language processing was featured in the Quantum Daily in December 2020 and in PhysicsWorld in January 2021.[10][11]


  • Bob Coecke, Aleks Kissinger:Picturing Quantum Processes. A First Course in Quantum Theory and Diagrammatic Reasoning, Cambridge University Press, 2017, ISBN 978-1316219317
Books (as editor)
  • Bob Coecke (ed.): New Structures for Physics, Lecure 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)
  • 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, 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

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bob Coecke publications indexed by Google Scholar
  2. ^ a b Bob Coecke at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Coecke, Bob; Kissinger, Aleks (16 March 2017). Picturing quantum processes : a first course in quantum theory and diagrammatic reasoning. ISBN 978-1107104228. OCLC 1026174191.
  4. ^ Coecke, Bob; Sadrzadeh, Mehrnoosh; Clark, Stephen (2011), Mathematical Foundations for a Compositional Distributional Model of Meaning, arXiv:1003.4394
  5. ^ a b Bob Coecke, Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford (downloaded 1 April 2012)
  6. ^ Faculty Computing Laboratory at the University of Oxford (downloaded 1 April 2012)
  7. ^ College Officers, Governing Body Fellows & Visiting Scholars, Wolfson College, University of Oxford (downloaded 1 April 2012)
  8. ^ Bob Coecke, LinkedIn (downloaded 1 April 2012)
  9. ^ Jacob Aron: Quantum links let computers understand language, New Scientist, 11 December 2010, p. 10–11 (abstract)
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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