IBM collaborates to accelerate quantum computing
IBM announced the first clients to tap into its IBM Q early-access commercial quantum computing systems to explore practical applications important to business and science. They include JPMorgan Chase, Daimler AG, Samsung, JSR Corporation, Barclays, Hitachi Metals, Honda, Nagase, Keio University, Oak Ridge National Lab, Oxford University, and University of Melbourne.
These 12 initial organizations join the newly formed IBM Q Network, a collaboration of leading Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions, and national research labs working directly with IBM to advance quantum computing. The IBM Q Network also plans to foster a growing quantum computing ecosystem based on IBM’s open source quantum software and developer tools.
The IBM Q Network provides organizations with quantum expertise and resources, and cloud-based access to the most advanced and scalable universal quantum computing systems available, starting with a 20 qubit IBM Q system. IBM says it also recently built and measured the first working 50 qubit prototype processor. IBM anticipates that access to this prototype will be offered to IBM Q Network participants in the next generation IBM Q system.
“IBM sees the next few years as the dawn of the commercial quantum era—a formative period when quantum computing technology and its early use cases develop rapidly. The IBM Q Network will serve as a vehicle to make quantum computing more accessible to businesses and organizations through access to the most advanced IBM Q systems and quantum ecosystem,” said Dario Gil, Vice President of AI and IBM Q, IBM Research. “Working closely with our clients, together we can begin to explore the ways big and small quantum computing can address previously unsolvable problems applicable to industries such as financial services, automotive, or chemistry. There will be a shared focus on discovering areas of quantum advantage that may lead to commercial, intellectual, and societal benefit in the future.”
Organizations will work directly with IBM scientists, engineers, and consultants to pioneer quantum computing for specific industries and have direct cloud-based access to IBM Q systems. Each of the IBM Q Network Partners will explore a broad set of potential applications of quantum computing in their industry that could provide a quantum advantage—demonstrations of real-world problems that may be solved faster or more efficiently with a quantum computer than with a classical computer.
Daimler AG will work with IBM to advance the potential use cases of quantum computing for the automotive and transportation industry. Some areas of research include finding and developing new materials for automotive application through quantum chemistry, complex optimization problems such as for manufacturing processes or vehicle routing for fleet logistics or autonomous/self-driving cars, and the intersection of quantum and machine learning to enhance the capabilities of artificial intelligence.
“The intelligently connected car of the future requires computing capabilities not available today,” said Ola Källenius, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “We believe that quantum computing could be a crucial element in creating sustainable and highly efficient mobility.”
IBM plans to establish regional hubs across four continents to increase access to quantum systems and advance research. The company says these IBM Q Network Hubs will broadly enable their industry and research collaborators to have online use of IBM Q systems and engage in joint development work to explore quantum computing. The planned locations for the hubs are at IBM Research, Keio University in Japan, Oak Ridge National Lab in the United States, Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and the University of Melbourne in Australia.
Through the publicly available IBM Q Experience, over 60,000 users have run more than 1.7M quantum experiments and generated over 35 third-party research publications using the world’s first series of quantum computers available openly on the web. The IBM Q Experience enables registered users to connect to IBM’s quantum processors via the IBM Cloud, to run algorithms and experiments, work with the individual quantum bits, and explore tutorials and simulations around what might be possible with quantum computing. Developers also have access to IBM’s open quantum software development kit, QISKit, to create and run quantum computing programs.
The IBM Q Experience will also play a significant role in an initiative IBM is undertaking with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. IBM will support MIT in producing a leading edge, comprehensive curriculum for executives, engineers, scientists, and researchers to understand and leverage the upcoming quantum computing revolution. The first courses are expected to go online in the first half of 2018.
In addition to supporting the quantum curriculum, IBM has started working with MIT to explore the intersection of quantum computing and machine learning as part of the recently launched MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. Together, IBM and MIT scientists are investigating the “Physics of AI”, which involves new research into AI hardware materials, devices, and architectures. Focus areas include using AI to help characterize and improve quantum devices, and researching the use of quantum computing to optimize and speed up machine-learning algorithms and other AI applications.