IBM building first universal quantum computers for business and science

Published: 6-Mar-2017

The new IBM quantum computing systems can hold and process vast amounts of data for finance, distribution manufacturing, research and analysis

Technologies currently running on classical computers help find patterns and insights buried in large amounts of existing data. However, sometimes, the possible solutions one needs to explore are too enormous to be processed by classical computers.

Due to its vast power, quantum computers can deliver solutions to important problems, where patterns cannot be seen for the reason that the data does not exist. They can tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical computing systems to handle.

The IBM Quantum Experience enables anyone to connect to IBM’s quantum processor 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.

“IBM has invested over decades to growing the field of quantum computing and we are committed to expanding access to quantum systems and their powerful capabilities for the science and business communities,” said Arvind Krishna, Director for IBM Research.

Quantum promises to be the next major technology that has the potential to drive a new era of innovation across industries.

IBM aims at constructing commercial IBM Q systems with ~50 qubits in the next few years.

The company plans to collaborate with key industry partners to develop applications that exploit the quantum speedup of the systems.

There are problems that are currently unsolvable, but hold tremendous untapped value.

One of the first and most promising applications for quantum computing will be in chemistry. For a simple molecule like caffeine, the number of quantum states in molecules grows astoundingly fast – so fast that all the conventional computing memory ever built could not contain the problem.

IBM’s scientists have developed techniques to efficiently explore chemistry problems on realistic hardware. Experimental demonstrations of various molecules are in progress.

In the future, the goal will be to scale to even more complex molecules and try to predict chemical properties with higher precision.

Future applications:

  • Drug and materials discovery: Untangling the complexity of molecular and chemical interactions leading to the discovery of new medicines and materials;
  • Supply chain and logistics: Finding the optimal path across global systems of systems, e.g. optimising fleet operations for deliveries during the holiday season;
  • Financial services: Finding new ways to model financial data and isolating key global risk factors to make better investments;
  • Artificial Intelligence: Making facets of artificial intelligence such as machine learning much more powerful when data sets can be too big such as searching images or video; or
  • Cloud security: Making cloud computing more secure by using the laws of quantum physics to enhance private data safety.

“Classical computers are extraordinarily powerful and will continue to advance and underpin everything we do in business and society,” said Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President of IBM Systems. “But there are many problems that will never be penetrated by a classical computer.”

There are many problems that will never be penetrated by a classical computer.

“To create knowledge from much greater depths of complexity, we need a quantum computer.”

“We envision IBM Q systems working in concert with our portfolio of classical high-performance systems to address problems that are currently unsolvable, but hold tremendous untapped value.”

Growing the IBM Q Ecosystem

Since its launch less than a year ago, about 40,000 users have run over 275,000 experiments on the IBM Quantum Experience. It has become an enablement tool for scientists in over 100 countries and to date.

“We featured IBM’s Quantum Experience as part of the online curriculum for over 1,800 participants,” said Isaac Chuang, professor of physics and professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT.

“They were able to run experiments on IBM’s quantum processor and test out for themselves quantum computing principles and theories they were learning.”

“Unlocking the usefulness of quantum computing will require hands-on experience with real quantum computers,” said Chuang.

In addition to working with developers and universities, IBM has been engaging with industrial partners to explore the potential applications of quantum computers.

We believe this technology could have a lasting impact on our industry.

“We heavily invest in R&D and have a strong interest in how emerging technologies such as quantum computing will impact the future of manufacturing,” said Nobu Koshiba, President of JSR.

JSR is a chemical and materials company in Japan that works in Life Sciences, among other sectors.

“By having exposure to how quantum computing can provide new computational capability to accelerate materials discovery, we believe this technology could have a lasting impact on our industry and specifically our ability to provide faster solutions to our customers.”

You may also like