Information for Researchers, No. 62 | July 10, 2024

Priority Programme “Quantum Software, Algorithms and Systems – Concepts, Methods and Tools for the Quantum Software Stack” (SPP 2514)

In March 2024, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “Quantum Software, Algorithms and Systems – Concepts, Methods and Tools for the Quantum Software Stack” (SPP 2514). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

Visions and Goals of the Priority Programme

Quantum computers promise applications in the solution of computational problems beyond classical means. In recent years, quantum hardware has been developed that takes steps towards achieving intermediate-scale quantum devices, and a plethora of funded projects further their physical development. However, to eventually utilise their potential, foundational research in software and method development is required: Similar to classical computing, value will be created by software also for quantum computers. The priority programme 2514 aims at investigating and evaluating foundational concepts, methods and tools to facilitate the fulfilment of the potential of quantum systems, based on a concerted effort to build an interdisciplinary research community for a methodological and systematic approach in quantum algorithms, software and systems engineering. This is mandatory because of the highly interdisciplinary nature of quantum computing being rooted in quantum physics, both theoretical and experimental, and spanning from electrical engineering and systems design to software engineering and algorithmics. Thereby, we address the urgent need to design and engineer concepts and methods for the quantum software stack in anticipation of mature quantum hardware platforms.

Focus of Projectswithin the PriorityProgramme

Overall, we envisage the submission of joint projects in which at least two groups with complementary expertise work together and simultaneously offer at least one specialised technology or area of knowledge to the other partners.

The priority programme is centred around five research areas as detailed below. Projects ideally focus on one area and contribute interdisciplinarily to one or more other areas.

1. Quantum Algorithmic Foundations and Roots in Quantum Physics

Recent developments in quantum algorithms have been exciting due to the discovery of unifying perspectives. Yet, the power and limitations of these new ideas is not yet well understood and further research is required to develop them into general quantum algorithmic frameworks and building blocks that apply to a broad variety of computational problems. Error mitigation and correction will require knowledge of underlying physical principles. New protocols for quantum simulations and fresh insights into the connection to many-body physics and complex quantum systems have yet to be explored.

Possible research topics are Quantum Algorithms and Algorithmic Foundations, Quantum Computational Models and Complexity, Error Mitigation and Correction or Connecting Many-Body Physics with Quantum Computing.

2. Programming Environments and SDKs

Currently, developing a quantum algorithm and implementing it for execution on a quantum computer is a highly manual task needing lots of expertise both in quantum physics and actual quantum hardware. In conjunction with the lack of abstractions to lift the expressible semantics above gate-level, this hampers the adoption and usability of quantum computing. To scale, we need (1) higher-levels of programming abstractions, (2) hybrid programming models that integrate classical host programs and quantum accelerators, (3) appropriate compilation techniques that adapt and extend existing compilation techniques and (4) design patterns and guidelines to allow for large-scale development of quantum software based on novel programming abstractions.

Possible research topics are Programming Languages and Programming Abstractions, Hybrid Programming Environments with QPL Integration, Platform-Independent Compilation and Optimisation or Design Patterns and Guidelines for Quantum Programs.

3. Software Stack with Runtime Infrastructures

The programming model infrastructure alone cannot provide the necessary environment to execute quantum programs efficiently. A compiler needs to be embedded into a software stack with a dynamic runtime system to support quantum program execution. As quantum computers are still evolving, each type of quantum hardware platform offers very distinct hardware properties and capabilities. Current approaches are, however, in most cases platform type-specific. To close these gaps, we require (1) dynamic compilation and runtime infrastructure and QC/HPC integration, (2) support for runtime interactions to feed dynamic system states into the compilation process, (3) suitable intermediate representations that both work well for different quantum abstractions and integrate with classical intermediate representations, and (4) approaches to monitor and query system properties, to transform quantum programs from platform-independent representations to platform-specific code.

Possible research topics are Platform-Specific and Topology-Aware Compilation and Optimisation, Adaptive Backend Selection, Scheduling Policies and Processes or Comprehensive and Holistic Monitoring and Telemetry.

4. QC Systems Co-Design and Engineering

The design of quantum computers, in their typical use as accelerators, involves cross-cutting decisions across the whole HW/SW-stack, from chip design, operating systems and middleware layers to concrete applications. These require coordination across conceptual layers. Novel approaches are required to realise scalable, large-scale and embedded quantum computing systems. Co-design using realistic hardware is an important open problem, as well as understanding potentials and limitations of problem-specific approaches and generalisation to (classes of) applications. This research area comprises cross-cutting, system-wide aspects of hardware-software co-design of quantum systems. It aims at designing and validating concepts, methods and tools to implement electronic design automation approaches for quantum computers, together with the design of relevant parts of a joint HW/SW-stack, driven by non-functional system properties.

Possible research topics are Electronic Circuit Design for QC Hardware, Model-Based QC HW/SW Co-Design or CPU/QPU Systems Design and Architecture.

5. Verification and Validation of Quantum Software and Systems

Cross-cutting to the above research areas, appropriate simulation, benchmarking and analysis techniques are needed to enable the verification and validation of quantum software and systems. These verification and validation approaches span all levels of the quantum software stack and all abstraction levels from physical level benchmarking to quantum program analysis and verification. Because of the intricacies of quantum computing, just reusing existing analysis and verification techniques is not feasible. Instead, a careful definition of semantic core models for quantum computation is needed. As for the classical case, finding the right level of abstraction capturing all relevant computational properties, yet enabling tractable analyses constitutes the main challenge in this endeavour.

Possible research topics are Simulation, Benchmarking or Analysis, Validation and Verification.


The development of physical quantum hardware is outside the scope of the priority programme. However, developing methods that build on top of existing hardware, or methods for improving hardware development and co-design are encouraged, as are appropriate evaluations of the developed methods and techniques on existing or experimental systems.

Proposal Instructions

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 2 December 2024. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system. To enter a new project within the existing Priority Programme, go to Proposal Submission – New Project/Draft Proposal – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2514” from the current list of calls. 

When preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (DFG form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (DFG form 54.01, see links below). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal.

To foster interdisciplinary research, all scientific proposals must be joint projects by at least two partners of suitably complementary expertise (not necessarily from different disciplines). The PIs need to argue convincingly that their expertise is complementary in their proposal.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 15 November 2024 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process.

The DFG strongly welcomes proposals from researchers of all genders and sexual identities, from different ethnic, cultural, religious, ideological or social backgrounds, from different career stages, types of universities and research institutions, and with disabilities or chronic illness. With regard to the subject-specific focus of this call, the DFG encourages female researchers in particular to submit proposals.

With the submission of a proposal within this programme, the applicants agree that DFG shares all necessary information (applicant names, affiliation, email-addresses and proposal title) with the coordinator of the Priority Programme after the call deadline.

The coordination board invites all interested potential applicants to join an online meeting on 29 July 2024. Meeting details are available on the project website, see link below.

For any questions regarding the online meeting, please contact the Programme coordinator Professor Dr.-Ing. Ina Schaefer.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available at:

Online meeting on 29 July 2024, meeting details are available on the project website:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries, please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Professorin Dr.-Ing. Ina Schaefer, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
    KASTEL – Institut für Informationssicherheit und Verlässlichkeit
    Am Fasanengarten 5, 76131 Karlsruhe, phone +49 721 608-45351,  

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Programme contact: 

Administrative contact: