Although quantum computers based upon the gate-based approach may get more of the publicity, we feel that one shouldn’t ignore the potential usefulness of other approaches including quantum annealing and Coherent Ising Machines (CIM) that can also take advantage of quantum mechanical phenomena to solve computational problems, particularly in the combinatorial optimization area. We recently covered a review of such activity in Japan and also reported earlier this year on a collaboration between NTT and CalTech to develop very high performance CIM machines to solve complex optimization problems.

NTT Research Inc., has entered into a new agreement to perform joint research with the Tokyo Institute of Technology to investigate two specific applications for their CIM machines. The first is in the area of drug discovery where the interactions between potential drugs and proteins can be expressed as a combinatorial optimization problem. Use of quantum technology can potentially provide a huge advantage over classical approaches because they can search through millions of different potential drugs to find the one that provides the best match exponentially faster than could be accomplished classically. The second application area they call compressed sensing, also known as sparse sampling, that would allow a computer quickly scan through huge data sets to discard those pieces of data that contain no useful information. This approach could be useful in areas such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT).

These projects are expected to last for five years and include roughly ten researchers at NTT U.S. research facility in Sunnyvale, California and Tokyo. For more details about this collaboration, you can view a news released from NTT Research available here.

April 27, 2021