News

Recent  quantum computing news and developments are listed below.   Click on the hyperlinked item to go to the press release or news article for details.

January 12, 2018
MIT Online Quantum Information Course Starts Monday, January 15, 2018 – Its Free
MIT will be offering a three part quantum information course via the edX on-line education platform.  The first one titled Quantum Information Science 1, Part 1 (8.370.1x) will start on Monday, January 14 an last for 5 weeks.  The lectures can be viewed on-line on your own schedule and part 1 and be followed by parts 2 and 3 as shown below.

The three-course series comprises:

For more details and to sign up for the course click here.

January 8, 2018
Intel Fabricates 49 Qubit Superconducting Chip
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today that Intel has fabricated a 49 qubit superconducting chip, codenamed Tangle Lake, and has delivered it to partner QuTech in the Netherlands.   Previously, they had developed a 17 qubit chip which they announced last October.

January 4, 2018
Tulane University Will Lead a $3.67 Million Program for Quantum Programming Research
The goal of the project is to develop tools and related methodologies for designing and analyzing programming languages for quantum computers, which are being designed to complete tasks and solve problems far more efficiently and faster than today’s computers. Although a number of prototype quantum computers already exist, the traditional methods for checking that programs are correct don’t work in the quantum setting.  So new approaches – semantic models, formal methods and related tools – need to be developed so that quantum programs can be proved correct before they’re run on an actual computer.  The grant, titled “Semantics, Formal Reasoning and Tool Support for Quantum Programming,” is funded for three years, with the possibility a two-year extension for a total of $6.34 million. Other universities involved will include the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Iowa and Stanford University as part of the Department of Defense’s Multi-University Research Initiative (MURI) program.

December 22, 2017
Videos from the Q2B and Approximate Quantum Computing Conferences have Been Posted
For those of you who could not attend these two conferences held earlier this month, the videos from the Q2B conference held at NASA Ames in Mountain View, California and the Approximate Quantum Computing conference held at IBM in Yorktown Heights, New York have now been posted.  Since these two conferences overlapped by a day and were held on opposite coasts, it is likely that no one attended both unless they practiced a personal form of superposition.  You can access the Q2B videos here and the Approximate Quantum Computing videos here.

December 20, 2017
Rigetti Announces Availability of a 19 Qubit Processor, Forest Version 1.2, and Demonstration of an Unsupervised Machine Learning Application
In a large announcement this week, Rigetti has announced the availability for cloud access of a 19 qubit processing unit (QPU). Coupled with this announcement, Rigetti also announced release 1.2 of their Forest software environment.   This release provides compilation and optimization support for their 19Q QPU, a means of providing customizable noise models for the quantum simulator, and an improved API for moving between synchronous and non-synchronous Forest calls.  Finally, they have demonstrated the use of the 19Q machine with Forest 1.2 to implement an unsupervised machine learning demonstration using a quantum/classical hybrid algorithm developed by Rigetti that shows a robustness against noise.  For details on all this you can find Rigetti’s blog entry here, detailed specifications for their 19Q QPU here, a page to request access to their 19Q QPU here, and an arXiv paper on their machine learning demonstration here.

December 19, 2017
Two Prize Programs for Academic Quantum Computing Research
Two different programs have been announced that can award monetary prizes for academic research on quantum computing.  The first is the Mobile World Scholars Challenge which will be awarded at the Mobile World Congress 2018 Event that will be held in Barcelona, Spain starting on February 26, 2018.  This challenge will award cash prizes of £2,000 (Gold), £1,000 (Silver) or £500 (Bronze) and has a deadline for submission of January 21, 2018.  Details can be found on their web page here. The second program is the IBM Q Awards Contest Program.  This program will include a series of prizes for professors, lecturers and students who use the IBM Q Experience and QISKit in the classroom or for their research.  Prizes in this program will range from $1,000 to $7,000 depending upon the specific award with a submission period that starts on January 15, 2018 and extends for several months.  Details on the IBM program can be found on their web page here.

December 17, 2017
IBM Ramps Up Their Quantum Marketing Activities
In an announcement last week, IBM announced its first early access clients to its IBM Q™ commercial quantum computing system. 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 clients will explore some initial applications for use of quantum computing in business and science. However, it should be noted that IBM is doing much more than only landing some early clients.  For more details on IBM’s increased level of quantum marketing activities, click here.

December 11, 2017
Microsoft Releases New Quantum Development Kit with New Language Named Q#
Microsoft has released for download a preview version of their new quantum development kit that was described at their Microsoft Ignite Conference in October.  At the time, the name of this language was not mentioned, but today they announced they are calling it Q#.  (Pronounced Q-sharp.   It seems like every new company or new product in the quantum industry has to have the letter “Q” in it!).  We will be looking at it in more detail in coming days to better understand its functionality, but today it will generate code that can run on a local simulator or an Azure-based simulator and potentially some topologically based quantum computer in the future.  More details on this new development kit can be found in Microsoft’s blog posting here, a video demo here, and those wishing to download and try it out can find it here.

December 3, 2017
Two Quantum Simulator Developments Set New Records for Qubit Count
In two separate articles published last week in Nature magazine, details of two different quantum simulators that exceed 50 qubits were described which exceed any previously announced sizes of a gate-based quantum computer.   The first is a paper published by scientists from MIT and Harvard that describes a 51 qubit quantum simulator based upon reconfigurable arrays of individually trapped cold atoms with strong, coherent interactions enabled by excitation to Rydberg states.  This machine was first mentioned at the ICQT 2017 conference in Moscow last July.  The second quantum simulator was described by a team from the University of Maryland and NIST that provides details on a 53 qubit machine based upon ion trap technology.  Of particular note, this team includes Professor Chris Monroe from the University of Maryland  who is also a founder of commercial quantum computing company IonQ which is also working on ion trap based technology.  For more details on the MIT/Harvard effort you can view the paper published in Nature here and for more details on the University of Maryland/NIST project you can view the other paper published in Nature here.

November 28, 2017
1QBit Raises $45 million Canadian in Series B Funding
1QBit announced today that they have raised $45 million Canadian (about $35 million US) in Series B funding led by Fujitsu with additional funding from Accenture, Allianz, Royal Bank of Scotland, and CME Ventures.  The funds consist of both equity and revenue contracts.  Of particular note, is 1QBit’s strategy of developing a hardware-agnostic software platform.  To this end, 1QBit announced earlier this year a collaboration with Fujitsu to support Fujitsu’s digital annealer which will be available as part of the Fujitsu Cloud Service K5 Zinrai Platform Service.  This digital annealer consists of a special classical computing architecture to solve combinatorial optimization problems much faster than general purpose classical computers.  As such, it would present an alternative to D-Wave’s quantum annealer, which 1QBit also supports.  Details on the funding can be found in their press release here and details on 1QBit’s collaboration with Fujitsu can be found in their earlier press release here

November 25, 2017
Another Open Access Quantum Computer Goes Live on November 27, 2017
NTT, Japan’s National Institute of Informatics, and the University of Tokyo will be putting on-line what they call a “Quantum Neural Network” machine starting November 27th.   This machine is not a general purpose gate-based quantum computer, but rather one designed for optimizing Ising models similar to the approach taken by D-Wave with their quantum annealing machine.  There will not be any charge initially for access to this machine, although these organizations are intending on offering a commercialized version by 2020. After November 27th, you will be able to try out the machine for yourself at https://qnncloud.com.  For more details, click here.

November 13, 2017
Quantum Circuits Inc. (QCI) Closes $18 Million Series A Funding Round Led by Sequoia and Canaan
QCI’s founding team of Michel Devoret, Luigi Frunzio and Robert Schoelkopf come from Yale University where they helped develop the superconducting transmon qubit concept which is the basis of the qubit technology used by IBM, Google, Intel, and Rigetti.  The first product offered on QCI’s web page is a Quantum-Limited Parametric Amplifier, but their stated goal is to offer a full-stack quantum computing platform to customers.  One of the differences in QCI’s approach is to create a series of tiny machines networked together to make it easier to correct errors in quantum computations.  More details about QCI’s funding can be found in the press release here.

November 13, 2017
D-Wave Announces Upgrade to the D-Wave  2000Q Quantum Computer
D-Wave has announced upgrades to the 2000Q processor that will provide users with more control over the annealing process.   The first is called reverse annealing which allows a user to specify a predicted solution in order to narrow the search space for the computation.  This allows a user to combine the power of a classical computer performing a classical optimization with the additional optimization of the quantum computer to provide up to a 150 tines improvement in performance.  Google, in particular, has been researching this approach and gave a talk about this type of concept  at the AQC 2016 conference.  The second capability is called a Virtual Graphs which improves accuracy in the upgraded system, by allowing control over the interaction of groups of qubits.  D-Wave claims that this feature has improved success rates by 5 times for certain hard optimization and machine learning problems.  Both of these capabilities will be available in the first quarter of 2018.  D-Wave’s press release on this upgrade can be found on their web site here.

November 10, 2017
IBM Announces 20 and 50 Qubit Processors
In its quest to provide early access to quantum system for commercial customers, IBM announced two new processors.  The first is a 20 qubit processor that will be available online for clients by the end of the year.  The second is a 50 qubit processor prototype that could potentially be available to clients later in 2018 after all the bugs are worked out.  Both systems are based upon a similar architecture that implements improvements in coherence times, connectivity and packaging.  For example, IBM is touting coherence times of 90 microseconds in these new designs which is over twice those of the predecessor 5 and 16 qubit processors.   Interestingly, IBM had previously mentioned a 17 qubit processor for commercial users several months ago, but it now seems that IBM has skipped over it and is going directly to the 20 qubit design.   For more details on IBM’s announcement, you can view the press release here.

November 4, 2017
Quantum Computing for Business (Q2B) conference to be held on December 4-6, 2017
NASA and QCWare will be hosting this conference next month at NASA Ames in Mountain View, California with additional sponsorship from Google Cloud, Atos, and D-Wave. The conference will provide an overview of the technical status of both hardware and software quantum computing developments.  There will also be discussions of important application areas including machine learning, computational chemistry, automotive, aerospace and finance.  Speakers will include leaders from organizations heavily involved with quantum computing including Caltech, Google, IBM, D-Wave, Volkswagen, Airbus, Goldman Sachs, GV (Google Ventures) and others. The conference will be a great opportunity to find out the latest status of the industry and to meet some of the movers and shakers who are making it happen.  For more details, you can visit the conference web page here.

October 23, 2017
Two Recent Advances in Quantum Computational Chemistry
There have been two announcements related to quantum computational chemistry within the past few weeks.   The first was from IBM that disclosed they have successfully achieved a quantum simulation of a beryllium hydride molecule on a 7 qubit quantum machine.  Although this is a very simple molecule, IBM indicates that this is the largest molecule that has been simulated on an actual quantum machine.  (More complex molecules have been modeled but these were performed on a classical computer that simulated a quantum machine).   You can read IBM’s press release about this here and for additional details you can refer to the article published by IBM Research here or an article published in Nature magazine here.

The second announcement came from a group from Google, Rigetti, Harvard, NASA Ames, Oxford, Dartmouth, ETH Zurich, the University of Michigan, NASA Ames, and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs which announced a new open source software package called OpenFermion. It can be used as a tool for generating and compiling physics equations which describe chemical and material systems into representations which can be interpreted by a quantum computer. The most effective quantum algorithms for these problems build upon and extend the power of classical chemistry packages such as Psi4 and PySCF used and developed by research chemists across government, industry and academia. The software includes several plug-ins to run on these packages and also is able to run on the Rigetti Foreat and ProjectQ frameworks to run on a variety of different quantum computers, including the IBM Quantum Experience.  Details of OpenFermion can be found in the Google blog posting here or the technical paper at arXiv here or the software itself which is posted on GitHub here.

For our take on the prospects for this subject, please view our blog posting on Why Computational Chemistry May Be the Quantum’s First Killer App.

October 10, 2017 
China investing $10 Billion to build a new quantum computing research supercenter
The National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences will be built near Hefei, Anhui Province, China and is expected to be completed in 2020.   This new center will focus on research in quantum metrology and quantum computing to support both national defense and civilian applications.

October 10, 2017
Intel develops 17-qubit superconducting test chip with partner QuTech
This 17-qubit test chip was developed as part of its research effort with QuTech in the Netherlands. An interesting point in this announcement is that it uses a superconducting qubit technology. However Intel also indicated it is also researching an alternative quantum technology called spin qubit.  Both can take advantage of Intel’s expertise in materials science, semiconductor manufacturing, and interconnects to build these devices with high quality and yield.   We are now starting to see a race to see who can develop chips with the highest number of qubits. IBM announced a 16 qubit processor which is now available on the IBM Quantum Experience and Google announced last month they have built a 20 qubit chip as a precursor to a 49 qubit chip expected next year. D-Wave also has a 2048 qubit chip, but this is much different (and simpler) because it uses a quantum annealing architecture instead of the gate level architecture used by the others. Of all the companies, Intel has the most expertise in high volume silicon manufacturing and this may ultimately give them the lead in developing high quality, large qubit chips that could be used for production level quantum processing.  You can see more details on Intel’s announcement by clicking here.

September 12, 2017
Monthly Newsletter on Quantum Technology
For those of you looking for additional information on what’s happening in the Quantum world, Nathan Shammah, a researcher at Riken is publishing a monthly newsletter that will include Tech News, Research Highlights, and Bonus Links. To sign up to receive this newsletter by email and also to view past issues, you can click here.

July 26, 2017
IonQ Closes Round B Funding for $20 Million
IonQ has announced a Round B funding for $20 million led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and GV (formerly Google Ventures).   We previously described NEA as an IonQ investor in a news article on December 1, 2016, but the investment by GV is surprising.  As is well known, Google has significant efforts in adiabatic quantum computing by partnering with D-Wave and the NASA Ames research center and also another substantial effort in gate-level superconducting quantum computing at their laboratory in Santa Barbara, California.  The IonQ technology is based upon a competitive approach called Ion Trapping.  So it appears that Google is covering their bets by investing in multiple approaches to see which one wins.   More details on this round B financing can be found in the IonQ press release here.

July 25, 2017
D-Wave Announces Agreement with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
D-Wave has announced an agreement with ORNL to provide access to a D-Wave 2000Q computer over the cloud to investigate hybrid computing applications.  It does not seem that a D-Wave 2000Q machine will be installed at Oak Ridge, but instead ORNL scientists will access over the web a machine located at either D-Wave’s headquarters in Burnaby or some other place.  The other interesting thing about the announcement is its emphasis on hybrid computing applications.   This refers to utilizing classical and quantum computing techniques together to solve a problem.  Other companies are also investigating this (particularly Rigetti), and it is likely that this approach will be very important as the industry works to apply quantum computing to real world problems.   More details on the D-Wave/ORNL announcement can be found here.

July 24, 2017-
Two Quantum Computing Announcements in Australia
Two quantum computing announcements were made in Australia this week.   The first is the establishment of a new $26M AUS  ($20.7M US) Quantum Computing Fund by the Australian state of New South Wales to support research into quantum computing.  Likely beneficiaries of this funding would include the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology (CQC²T) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) as well as the University of Sydney’s Quantum Nanoscience Laboratory. More details on the announcement can be found here. The second is the unveiling of a multi-year deep partnership between Microsoft and the University of Sydney as part of Microsoft’s StationQ effort. The University of Sydney will join other StationQ partners including Purdue University, Delft University of Technology, the University of Copenhagen as well as Microsoft’s teams in Redmond, Washington and Santa Barbara, California. The amount of funding was not announced, but it is certainly expected to be substantial. Details on this Microsoft partnership with the University of Sydney can be found here.

July 10, 2017
Large Commercial Companies Experimenting with Quantum Computing
There’s been several recent announcements of large commercial companies experimenting with quantum computing.  Although they are nowhere near using quantum computing in a production mode, it is noteworthy that these companies are hoping to get a jump on their competitors by preparing for the future now.  Here is a round-up of some recent announcements from the past few weeks.

June 28, 2017
USRA Inviting Proposals for Access Time on the D-Wave 2000Q Machine at NASA Ames
The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) has issued a request for proposal to researchers who wish to access the D-Wave 2000Q quantum computer at the NASA Ames Research Center.  The opportunity is available to qualified researchers at accredited universities, not-for-profit organizations and industrial companies.  Approved proposers will receive a grant of computer time at no charge. The deadline for proposal submission is September 30, 2017 for usage through December 2018 and details of the USRA RFP can be found on the USRA web site here.

June 19, 2017
Adiabatic Quantum Computing Conference Will be Webcast (June 26-29, Japan time)
The Adiabatic Quantum Computing Conference (AQC 2017) will be held for the first time in Japan and will also be webcast for the first time.   The conference will be held on June 26-29, 2017 in Tokyo.   For those in the U.S. and Canada, this would be the evenings of June 25-29.   For more details on how to register for the webcast, you can click here.   The fee will be 5,000 Yen about $45 U.S.).   For more details on the conference and the program agenda, you can click here.

May 17, 2017
IBM Announces Two New Gate-Level Quantum Computers
As a continuation of the IBM Q program we reported a few months ago, IBM has announced two new quantum computers.  The first is a 16 qubit machine that will be used as a follow-on to the 5 qubit machine that is currently accessible through the IBM Quantum Experience program.   IBM is intending on making this machine available to the public for experimentation but will first limit it to a small subset of beta users to shake out the bugs.  Also, it will only be accessible via the QISKIT software development kit and won’t be supported by the GUI that was used with the 5 qubit machine.  The second machine will be what IBM calls its first prototype commercial processor and will be the basis of their service for commercial customers. It is not clear what the difference is between the two machines, but we are trying to find out more technical details of these machines and will report on them once we find out.  Also, IBM proposed in their press release a new metric to use when comparing gate-level quantum computers called Quantum Volume.   This metric provides a relative ranking of the power of the machine as a function of the number of qubits, the quality of the qubits, connectivity between qubits, and the error rate of operations.   More details on IBM’s announcement can be found on their web site here.

May 15, 2017
D-Wave receiving $50 Million for Development of their Next Quantum Computer
Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board will be investing a total of $50 million into D-Wave to help support the development of their fifth generation quantum annealing processor. In addition, some of the funding will be available to enhance their products and platforms used in machine learning applications. Apparently, $30 million of this investment has already been supplied to D-Wave with the remaining $20 million anticipated to be provided by mid-2018 as long as certain milestones are achieved.  The new processor under development will double the number of qubits from their current 2000Q™ system and contain between 4000-5000 qubits.   Perhaps more important, this next generation will have significantly better connectivity between qubits making it easier to fit problems into the architecture.   The current machine uses a chimera pattern that allows each qubit to connect to only six other qubits. Users find this to be quite limiting.  Additional details are available on the D-Wave web site here.

March 28, 2017
Rigetti Lands $64 Million in Series A and B Venture Capital Financing
Rigetti Computing has announced receiving a Round A financing for $24 million and a Round B financing for $40 million totaling $64 million. The Round A financing was led by Andreesson Horowitz and was completed in March 2016 and kept under wraps until now. In July of 2016 Andreesson Horowitz released a video hinting that they would soon announce a quantum computing investment. Round B was completed in November 2016 and led by Vy Capital, a Dubai based venture capital and private equity firm. Other investors in one or both rounds include Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund, Data Collective, FF Science, AME Cloud Ventures, Morado Ventures, WTI, Sutter Hill Ventures, Susa Ventures, Streamlined Ventures, Lux Capital, and Bloomberg Beta. The Rigetti press release can be found here.

March 15, 2017
Google Plans to Offer Access to its Quantum Processors via a Cloud Computing Service
In an article in Nature Magazine titled Commercialize quantum technologies in five years that did not receive much attention in the outside press, Google indicated that it will be offering access to its quantum processors within the next few years.  Although the initial appearance of such a machine will probably have only a few tens of qubits and little or no error correction, Google has identified certain use cases where this may be sufficient.  In particular, they identified quantum simulation, quantum-assisted optimization, and quantum sampling as areas where they may be able to demonstrate quantum supremacy on real world problems.   So they will be joining D-Wave, IBM, and possibly others to offer such a service.   It should provide for some interesting competition.    A link to their paper can be found here.

March 14, 2017
D-Wave to Upgrade Quantum Processor at NASA Ames to Latest D-Wave 2000Q™ Version
System used jointly by Google, NASA, and Universities Research Space Association offering 2000 qubits and new anneal offsets feature will be installed later this year at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.   This will be the second publicly announced installation of the D-Wave 2000Q™ system.  The upgrade is being performed under the multi-year agreement signed in 2015.  View the D-Wave press release here.

March 13, 2017
IBM Intends to Market “IBM Q” for Commercial Quantum Computing over the Cloud
Logical extension of IBM’s initial Quantum Experience introduced last year that provides a roadmap from interesting academic teaching tool to future support for commercially valuable quantum processing.

March 8, 2017
Rigetti Quietly Releases Beta of Forest Platform for Quantum Computing in the Cloud
Key feature – Close and efficient coupling between classical and quantum computing built into the software (and future hardware) to support Rigetti’s view that future quantum algorithms will require this in the future.

January 26, 2017
QC Ware and USRA (Universities Space Research Association) have received a $1 million NSF (National Science Foundation) grant to develop quantum computing platform-as-a-service (QC PaaS).  The hardware-agnostic service that they will develop will make quantum computing available for commercial and research applications in such areas as machine learning, cybersecurity, finance and other cases.   More details on this award can be found in the press release here.

January 25, 2017
The NQIT (Networked Quantum Interface Technologies) research hub in the U.K. has issued a new report titled “The Commercial Prospects for Quantum Computing”.  This overview report covers a description of some of the technologies, participants, partnerships, and funding that has occurred in quantum computing over the recent years.  It is available at no charge and can be requested by filling out the Market Report Request Form located at the bottom of the web page located here.

January 24, 2017
D-Wave has released their D-Wave 2000Q, a 2000 qubit Quantum Processing Unit (QPU), for general commercial availability and announced their first customer order for it.  This computer was pre-announced last year but the surprising element is the new customer who has ordered it, a cybersecurity firm called headquartered in Kirkland, Washington called Temporal Defense Systems. Besides the doubling of qubits, this processor has a new feature called anneal offsets.  This features lets users advance or delay anneal paths on an individual qubit basis to enhance application performance. D-Wave claims that this feature can improve performance by up to 1000 times for some problem types.  D-Wave’s press release for the D-Wave 2000Q can be found here, their announcement of Temporal Defense Systems as the first customer can be found here, and an Arxiv paper that shows some initial benchmarking results on this new machine can be found here.

January 11, 2017
D-Wave has released a software tool called Qbsolv for use with their D-Wave quantum processor.    This tools takes large Unconstrained Binary Optimization Problems (QUBOs) and splits it into smaller sub-QUBOs that can be solved on either the D-Wave Quantum Processor or via classical means using a tabu search algorithm built into the Qbsolv software.  The interesting point in this release is that D-Wave has made it open source so that users can download and modify it.  Since D-Wave currently has no competition producing quantum annealing machines, they apparently felt little risk in releasing this as open source.  D-Wave appears to have several other software programs in the works including DW for host libraries and command line interface functions, QSage for optimization, ToQ for constraint satisfaction, and an unnamed program still in the conceptual stage for sampling.   For more details you can view D-Wave’s Qbsolv press release here, you can access the software itself at GitHub here, you can see a description of D-Wave’s software roadmap here, and you can access a technical report with additional technical details on Qbsolv here.

December 1, 2016
New Enterprise Associates (NEA) has apparently provided funding of several million dollars to new startup IonQ, Inc.  IonQ is pursuing trapped ion quantum computers which have a theoretical advantage due to their longer decoherence times.  It is not know if any other parties joined this funding round.   However, as shown on the NEA website, Andrew Schoen from NEA has joined IonQ’s Board of Directors.   More details about IonQ are related in the article in Science magazine which you can find here.

October 18, 2016
D-Wave has formed an independent U.S. subsidiary for U.S. government business called D-Wave Government, Inc.   Previously, D-Wave did have sales representation in the Washington D.C. area, but this goes a step further by establishing a U.S. subsidiary with a six member Board of Directors.  D-Wave previously announced a sale to Los Alamos National Laboratory.   In addition, there could have been other sales already completed or are in process that will never be announced due to secrecy concerns of certain government agencies.    More details on the creation of this subsidiary can be found on the D-Wave web site here.

October 2, 2016
D-Wave has raised another $21 million (U.S.) from Fidelity Investments and PSP Investments.   This round is apparently unrelated to the $15 million round that the Harris & Harris Group was working on as we reported in June.   (It is not clear to us if that round was ever closed.) Additional details on this new investment as published in the The Globe and Mail can be found here.

September 8, 2016
The Australian government’s Australian Research Council (ARC) has awarded grants totaling $65.6 million Australian (about $49.6 million USD) to two different Centres of Excellence involved with quantum computing.    The ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology administered by the University of New South Wales will receive $33.7 million AUD and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems administered by the University of Queensland will receive $31.9 million AUD.   The grants are for a period of up to seven years and the listed amounts do not include matching cash or in-kind grants that can potentially triple the total funding made by participating organizations.   Details of the funding along with a listing of the participating organizations for each centre can be viewed on the ARC website here.

September 6, 2016
The University of Waterloo has won a $76.3 million Canadian (about $59 million USD) grant from Canadian government to tackle three grand challenges in quantum device development.  This award which is expected to last seven years was made by the Canadian First Research Excellence Fund.   It will triple the University’s scientific and professional staff and allow them to pursue a project to build a prototype 100 qubit quantum computer.   For those problems that can be framed to run on it, a quantum computer of that size should be able to easily surpass the capability of the largest classical supercomputer.   The Perimeter Institute is also located in Waterloo, Ontario and Canadian officials are starting to tout the area as “Quantum Valley”.    More details about the award can be found by clicking here.

August 30, 2016
QC Ware has secured a round of seed funding from Airbus Ventures and the D.E. Shaw group.   QC Ware is a quantum software company currently developing applications that run on the D-Wave adiabatic quantum computer.   QC Ware is based in Mountain View, California and they have access to the NASA/Google D-Wave machine installed at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California   Airbus has interest in using quantum computing for complex aeronautic design and evaluation. D.E. Shaw’s interest is in applying quantum computing to various finance problems.    More details can be viewed in the press release which you can see here.

August 16, 2016
China has launched the first quantum enable communication satellite called Micius.   This is part of a project call Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) that China is working on with Austria.   The satellite will create entangled pairs of photons which will be beamed to ground stations to allow for unhackable quantum key distribution.   This technology is similar to that developed by ID Quantique and others for use with fiber optic cables on the ground.   It relies upon the quantum phenomenon that if an entangled photon is intercepted and measured it changes the key and makes it useless.  Although this achievement is noteworthy, it is our view that quantum cryptography using entangled qubits will have a limited usefulness.  New methods of post-quantum cryptography using classical computing being developed by organizations like NIST, Google, Isara and others will be able to use existing communications infrastructures and be a lot cheaper.  More details about the China satellite launch can be viewed at the BBC website here.

August 8, 2016
As you can see from the recent news below from the University of Oxford and the University of Maryland, the ion trap technology represents one of the most promising technologies for implementing a quantum computer.   However, the drawback so far has been that these implementations require external lasers and optics to control the qubits and perform logic functions.  This is a problem because these implementations require complex hardware and are not easily scaled up.   Researchers at MIT and MIT Lincoln Labs have developed a possible solution for this by creating a chip on a quartz substrate that contains silicon nitride waveguides to route laser light across the chip.   The advantage of this approach is that by leveraging the same economics of photolithography used in semiconductors, it could more easily enable scaling up to higher qubit counts, significantly miniaturize the apparatus, and greatly reduce the costs.   More details about this work can be found on the MIT News website here.

August 5, 2016
Researchers at the University of Oxford have published a paper indicating they have developed quantum logic gates using their trapped ion technology with record setting fidelities of 99.9934 for a single qubit gate and 99.9 for a two qubit gate.   This exceeds the previous record of 99.3% that has been shown with both a previous trapped ion implementation and also a superconducting technology.   The general consensus is that a gate fidelity of at least 99% is required to implement a multi-qubit fault tolerant quantum computer, so these results show that this requirement can be met.   Details of the paper are published on arXiv and you can view it here.

August 3, 2016
Researchers at the University of Maryland released a paper on the Nature website today describing a programmable five qubit circuit based upon ion trap technology.  As part of the validation of the circuit, they have successfully programmed three different algorithms including the Deutsch-Jozsa, Bernstein-Vazirani, and Quantum Fourier Transform in this circuit.   The major advantage claimed for their work is the programmability element.   However, IBM also has a five qubit, programmable quantum prototype based upon superconducting technology which IBM has made available publicly on the web through the IBM Quantum Experience.  If I can learn more details about how these approaches compare, I will publish it on a subsequent article on this web site.

July 26, 2016
The U.S. government released a report the challenges, opportunities, and a path forward for quantum information science (QIS).  The report describes various government investments in quantum information science, impediments to progress and makes some high level recommendations on ways to continue U.S. leadership in quantum information science.  The report is titled Advancing Quantum Information Science: National Challenges and Opportunities and you can find it here.

July 21, 2016
The USC-Lockheed Quantum Computing Center (QCC) announced that their D-Wave2X processor is now on-line.  The represents an upgrade from 512 to 1098 qubits versus the previous D-Wave2 system that they had.    QCC had previously announced their intention to obtain this upgrade last November.   Besides providing the capability of handling larger problems, the additional qubits may also be helpful in encoding various error correction terms that will ensure the machine to have a better chance of calculating the correct answer.   More details on the QCC announcement can be found here.

July 20, 2016
Researchers from Yale University have published a paper in Nature that describes a way of increasing the lifetime of a qubit to 320 nanoseconds using quantum error correction technique in a  superconducting circuit.   This lifetime is an increase of 2.2X over the lifetime of a logically uncorrected qubit.  A key claim is that this scheme has allowed them to reach the break-even point where the lifetime of a qubit exceeds the lifetime of the constituents of the system.

July 18, 2016
In a recent blog posting, I indicated that computational chemistry was the second best potential application for quantum computing.    In support of this premise, I will point out a recent Google paper where they show that they have accurately simulated the energy levels of hydrogen H2 molecules using a two-qubit quantum circuit.    Although the H2 molecule small enough to also be simulated on a classical computer, as the molecules become larger the calculations become exponentially more complex and quickly become intractable on a classical computer. but still viable on a quantum computer.   The algorithm that Google used was called the variational quantum eigensolver (VQE) which uses a hybrid classical + quantum approach to implement a neural-network like training loop which can create a robustness against imperfections.   The Google paper contains one sentence I view a quite significant:  “This robustness inspires hope that VQE may be able to solve classically intractable problems without quantum error correction.”  Because of the large overhead that is involved with quantum error correction, avoiding it would make the availability of a commercially viable quantum computer application significantly easier and earlier.   You can view the Google Research Blog entry describing the paper here and you can see the entire paper as published in Physical Review X here.

July 18, 2016
Most people when they think about a quantum computer, they have in mind a bulky and expensive machine due to the requirement of incorporating a dilution refrigerator to cool the circuits to temperatures just above absolute zero to achieve the best possible decoherence times.   However, there are researchers looking into technologies such as photonics, and nitrogen vacancy diamond that would not require this extreme cooling.    The latest research in this vein is a paper published recently in Nature Communications that describes an implementation based on metallic-like carbon nanotubes.   The researchers from the University of Sydney, EPFL in Lausanne, and the Freie Universität Berlin claim T1 and T2 relaxation times of 175 nanoseconds at room temperature which is about a 100X improvement over previous results.  If any of these room temperature technologies are successful they could significantly change the deployment and economics of deploying a quantum computer.

July 8, 2016
The United States Air Force has issued an update to their Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) titled Quantum Computing Sciences  requesting white papers for investigating the usage of quantum annealing technology to solve problems of interest to the DoD community.  The BAA has two focus areas.    The first involves the establishment of a quantum computing research environment at the AFRL/Information Directorate in Rome, New York.  This would involve the installation of a 1000 qubit “QuAnCo” machine and attaching it to the Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN).  (You can take a guess at who the vendor for “QuAnCo” might be).   The second focus would be to study algorithm implementation and problem solving for ongoing problems of interest to the warfighter.    The budget for this program is $40 million over a five year period.   The next deadline for submission of white papers is September 30, 2016 for Focus Area 2 activities in FY17.   More details on this BAA can be accessed on the Federal Business Opportunities web page here.

July 6, 2016
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz recently released a video titled: Quantum Computing: A Primer.   The video covers some of the basic concepts that would be familiar to those already taken a look at quantum computing.    But the most interesting tidbit came out at the very end of the video (at time 28:00) when they showed the words: “COMING SOON:  a16z Portfolio Company” and indicated that an announcement would be forthcoming soon.

June 14, 2016
Andy Rubin of venture capital and incubator firm Playground Global revealed at the Bloomberg Technology Conference that he and Redpoint Ventures have invested in an undisclosed quantum computing firm.   Rubin believes that the combination of quantum computing with artificial intelligence will create very powerful capabilities.   More details of his address at the conference can be viewed here.

June 9, 2016
Investment company 180º Capital (formerly Harris & Harris Group) is offering accredited investors the opportunity to co-invest with them in D-Wave’s Series J financing for $15,000,000.   Details about this investment appear to have been removed from the web site but you can sign-up for future co-investment opportunities  at the 180º Capital web site at http://www.180degreecapital.com/.

June 8, 2016
Google in collaboration with university researchers in Spain and California  unveiled a new architecture for a Quantum Computer called a Digital Adiabatic Quantum Computer in an article posted on the Nature web site today.   This architecture consists of a cross between a gate level quantum computer and the adiabatic quantum computers concept that D-Wave uses.    By simulating the adiabatic quantum algorithms with gates, the system can implement many different general purpose optimization algorithms while still including the fault tolerance capabilities that can be implemented using quantum gates.   For more details click here to view an overview on the Nature web site, click here for a nice blog write-up posted on the Google research web site,  and for a preview of the detailed technical paper you can click here.

May 23, 2016
Microsoft is providing multimillion dollar funding to Purdue University to establish  Station Q Purdue.   This team will be part of several Microsoft Station Q teams and will focus on the study of new materials that have the potential to be useful in quantum computers.   More details on this announcement and the research focus of this team can be found here.

May 17, 2016
The U.S. Navy’s SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command) posted a government solicitation notice  that indicated it will award D-Wave a fixed price contract for an unspecified amount for training on quantum computing techniques.  SPAWAR has been using the D-Wave computer at NASA Ames to research potential applications of quantum computing in the military.  A few more details on the SPARWAR activities are mentioned in the Times of San Diego article here.

May 4, 2016
IBM has announced that it will be making available to outside users its 5 qubit gate level quantum computer via the IBM Cloud.   The computer and its associated software will allow users to design small gate configurations, run experiments, and see the results.   IBM’s press release provides some more details and you can it access here.  Additional details on IBM quantum computing research can be found at the IBM Quantum Experience.    I have signed up to gain access to this capability and will provide a review once I have a chance to use it.

May 3, 2016
Anyone who has heard of quantum computing will surely heard about Shor’s algorithm and how it can facilitate the factoring of very large numbers and hence crack the RSA, Diffie-Hellmen, and other popular public key cryptography schemes which are used widely on the Internet.   This has caused some concern with the National Institute of Standards and Technologys (NIST) and they have issued a report calling for development of a new generation of quantum proof encryption methods.   Since they believe that developing, validating, and diseminating a new encryption methodology may take as long as 10-20 years, quantum computers capable of implementing Shor’s algorithm will be available by then.   So they need a long lead time and will be starting a competition where members of the public can submit and test new encryption methods which cannot be cracked using quantum computers.    More details are report in InfoWorld here.

April 26, 2016
The European Commission is planning on investing one billion Euros in an effort called Quantum Flagship launching in 2018 with the goal to place Europe at the forefront of the second quantum revolution according to an EU spokesperson.   More details of this planned program can be accessed here.

April 23, 2016
The Prime Ministers of Canada and Australia both discussed quantum computing in two events earlier this month.    At an event at the University of Waterloo Perimeter Institute, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked by a sarcastic reporter to explain quantum computing and to everyone’s surprise he did so!   You can view the video here.  About a week later, Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull was speaking at the opening of a new quantum computing laboratory at the University of New South Wales and also gave an explanation of quantum computing as seen in a video here.    It would be interesting to see if Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or any other American politician every tries to match them.

March 25, 2016
Scientists at the University of Queensland and Griffith University have fabricated the first quantum Fredkin gate (also known as the controlled SWAP gate) using linear optics.    This is an important milestone because the Fredkin gate is a complicated three qubit gate and this is the first time this gate has ever been realized.    The Fredkin gate is also a universal logic gate meaning any logical or arithmetic operation can be synthesized using only this type of gate.   Details have been published on Science Advances web site and you can see it here.

March 3, 2016
In a paper published in the journal Science, researchers from MIT and the University of Innsbruck in Austria report that they have designed and built a quantum computer from five atoms in an ion trap. The computer uses laser pulses to carry out Shor’s algorithm on each atom to correctly factor the number 15.  The results, they say, represent the first scalable implementation of Shor’s algorithm.  The system is designed in such a way that more atoms and lasers can be added to build a bigger and faster quantum computer and can lead the way towards systems that can factor large prime numbers and decrypt messages encoded with the RSA encryption algorithm.  More details on this research are reported by MIT here.

December 10, 2015
Google publishes first results of benchmarking tests on the D-Wave 2X Quantum Computer.     The paper describes some of Google’s initial tests that show performance improvements of up to 100,000,000 times improvement versus Simulated Annealing (SA) and Quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) algorithms running on classical computers.   However, the improvement level is highly dependent upon the algorithm used and the particular problems being solved.   The paper concludes by suggesting several improvements that can be made on future quantum annealing processors.    You can download the paper posted on ArXiv here.

December 8, 2015
IBM Awarded IARPA Grant to Advance Research Towards a Universal Quantum Computer.  The award is funded under the Logical Qubits (LogiQ) program of IARPA led by Dr. David Moehring. The LogiQ Program seeks to overcome the limitations of current quantum systems by building a logical qubit from a number of imperfect physical qubits.

November 16, 2015
D-Wave Systems Announces Multi-Year Agreement with Lockheed Martin.  D-Wave has entered into a multi-year agreement with Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) to upgrade the company’s 512-qubit D-Wave Two™ quantum computer to the new D-Wave 2X™ system with 1,000+ qubits located at the University of Southern California-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computation Center (QCC).

November 12, 2015
Los Alamos to study future computing technology capabilities.   Los Alamos National Laboratory announced it is acquiring a D-Wave 2X processor to evaluate quantum annealing technology.   The system is expected to be installed in early 2016.

October 5, 2015
A team from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has fabricated a quantum logic gate in silicon.   Their technique uses transistors that trap single electrons and microwaves that will enable two qubits to interact with one another.   Details are in the article titled Crucial hurdle overcome in quantum computing posted on Phys.org.

September 28, 2015
D-Wave Systems Announces Multi-Year Agreement To Provide Its Technology To Google, NASA And USRA’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab.
New D-Wave 2X System with 1000+ Qubit Processor Installed at NASA’s Ames Research Center

September 11, 2015
At a recent talk at the Disruptive Technologies Session at the 2015 HPC User Forum, D-Wave USA President Bo Ewald hinted that they will soon be announcing their first customer for the D-Wave 2X.    This new customer would be their third public customer after Lockheed-Martin and Google.   You can view a short video of his talk here.

September 7, 2015
Alibaba Invests 150 Million Yuan ($23.2 million USD) For Quantum Computing Research.  The money will be invested in a venture formed by the e-commerce giant and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

September 3, 2015
Intel announces an investment of US$50 million with QuTech, the quantum research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and TNO, and will dedicate engineering resources to advance research efforts.

August 26, 2015
Grupo Arcano invests up to $50 million in Cambridge Quantum Computing Ltd.

August 20, 2015
D-Wave Systems Announces the General Availability of the 1000+ Qubit D-Wave 2X Quantum Computer

 

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