Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Has Arrived

For finding the beauty in physics to expand a practical understanding of quantum computing

It started with a sunset he saw as a kid on Jimba-san in Kanagawa, Japan. Suguru Endo couldn’t have guessed how the moment might inspire his breakthrough work on large-scale quantum computing. But it solidified the connection he felt between the tangible world and theoretic lessons. "I have always been intrigued by the beauty of the world, and since then I knew mathematics and physics are the key to reveal it," Endo says.

When a failed university exam cut short his dream of becoming an astrophysicist, he pivoted to applied physics and physico-informatics, eventually earning a PhD in quantum computing theory.

Fascinated by "the interplay between the practicality and beauty of physics," Endo soon homed in on quantum error mitigation, which aims to suppress computation mistakes. To date, efforts have only had success on small-scale quantum computers. But Endo and his colleagues at NTT Computer & Data Science Laboratories are working to create solutions for large-scale versions that could one day be applied to chemistry simulations, machine learning and drug development.

Yet even with a high-profile paper out in the world, the rising star is quick to draw attention to his many partners, citing that collaborative streak as his true project management superpower. "Creating synergies with my colleagues is the fuel of my research and leadership," he says.

Q&A: Suguru Endo on collaboration, communication and Sapiens

What project has influenced you personally?
The first project in which I could write a paper. I really learned a lot: how the interaction between matter and light are modeled in quantum mechanics, how to conduct research and write a paper and, most importantly, how to collaborate with other researchers.

What book are you obsessed with right now?
I really enjoyed reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari because we are all sapiens and he explained how history is “managed” from a quite objective view.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
When I was a high school student, I was very bad at communication. I want to say to my younger self: Don’t worry—in the future, you are now working with a lot of people all over the world and have many friends. And your dream will come true.