The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has started a program called ONISQ (Optimization with Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum) Devices with a potential budget of $35 million over four years. The program will research how a hybrid concept that combines intermediate-sized quantum devices (hundreds to thousands of qubits) with classical computing systems could solve combinatorial optimization problems and provide a quantum advantage over classical computing solutions.

Hybrid Classical/Quantum Computing Conceptual Diagram. Credit: DARPA

DARPA has selected seven teams divided into two technical areas to participate in Phase 1 of the program which started in March and is expected to last 18 months. The first set of projects, called Technical Area 1, will be to provide an experimental demonstration of hybrid quantum/classical optimization algorithm in a quantum device and will include four different teams led by Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation, Universities Space Research Association, Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College, and ColdQuanta Inc. We had previously reported on the efforts led by Universities Space Research Association and ColdQuantum here and here.  The second set of project called Technical Area 2, will investigate general theoretical methods for quantum solutions of combinatorial optimization problems.  Three different teams will participate in this portion of the program lead by University of Tennessee, Clemson University, and Lehigh University.

After the Phase 1 research is finished, there will be a selection of teams to participate in Phase 2 which is expected to last another 30 months. If all options are awarded, the contract value for Technical Area 1 will total about $32.3 million and for Technical Area 2 it would total about $3.6 million for both phases. For more information, you can view the news release on the DARPA web site here. Also, Argonne National Laboratory issued a press release announcing their participation in Technical Area 1 with the ColdQuanta team and also in Technical Area 2 with the Clemson University team that can you find on their web site here.

May 18, 2020