IBM Building First Universal Quantum Computers for Business and Science

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, NY -- IBM announces an industry-first initiative to build commercially available universal quantum computing systems. "IBM Q" quantum systems and services will be delivered via the IBM Cloud platform. While technologies that currently run on classical computers, such as Watson, can help find patterns and insights buried in vast amounts of existing data, quantum computers will deliver solutions to important problems where patterns cannot be seen because the data doesn't exist and the possibilities that you need to explore to get to the answer are too enormous to ever be processed by classical computers.

IBM also announces:
•The release of a new API (Application Program Interface) for the IBM Quantum Experience that enables developers and programmers to begin building interfaces between its existing five quantum bit (qubit) cloud-based quantum computer and classical computers, without needing a deep background in quantum physics.
•The release of an upgraded simulator on the IBM Quantum Experience that can model circuits with up to 20 qubits. In the first half of 2017, IBM plans to release a full SDK (Software Development Kit) on the IBM Quantum Experience for users to build simple quantum applications and software programs.

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 intends to build IBM Q systems to expand the application domain of quantum computing. A key metric will be the power of a quantum computer expressed by the "Quantum Volume", which includes the number of qubits, quality of quantum operations, qubit connectivity and parallelism. As a first step to increase Quantum Volume, IBM aims at constructing commercial IBM Q systems with ~50 qubits in the next few years to demonstrate capabilities beyond today's classical systems, and plans to collaborate with key industry partners to develop applications that exploit the quantum speedup of the systems.

IBM Q systems will be designed to tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical computing systems to handle. One of the first and most promising applications for quantum computing will be in the area of chemistry. Even for simple molecules like caffeine, the number of quantum states in the molecule can be astoundingly large – so large that all the conventional computing memory and processing power scientists could ever build could not handle the problem.

IBM's scientists have developed techniques to efficiently explore the simulation of chemistry problems on quantum processors (https://arxiv.org/abs/1701.08213 and https://arxiv.org/abs/1612.02058) and 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 than possible with classical computers.

Future applications of quantum computing may include:
•Drug and Materials Discovery: Untangling the complexity of molecular and chemical interactions leading to the discovery of new medicines and materials;
•Supply Chain & Logistics: Finding the optimal path across global systems of systems for ultra-efficient logistics and supply chains, such as optimizing 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.

IBM's roadmap to scale to practical quantum computers is based on a holistic approach to advancing all parts of the system. IBM will leverage its deep expertise in superconducting qubits, complex high performance system integration, and scalable nanofabrication processes from the semiconductor industry to help advance the quantum mechanical capabilities. Also, the developed software tools and environment will leverage IBM's world-class mathematicians, computer scientists, and software and system engineers.

Growing the IBM Q Ecosystem

IBM believes that collaborating and engaging with developers, programmers and university partners will be essential to the development and evolution of IBM's quantum computing systems.

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, 15 third-party research papers have been posted to arXiv with five published in leading journals based on experiments run on the Quantum Experience.

IBM has worked with academic institutions, such as MIT, the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, and École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) to leverage the IBM Quantum Experience as an educational tool for students. In collaboration with the European Physical Society, IBM Research - Zurich recently hosted students for a full-day workshop to learn how to experiment with qubits using the IBM Quantum Experience.

In addition to working with developers and universities, IBM has been engaging with industrial partners to explore the potential applications of quantum computers. Any organization interested in collaborating to explore quantum applications can apply for membership to the IBM Research Frontiers Institute, a consortium that develops and shares a portfolio of ground-breaking computing technologies and evaluates their business implications. Founding members of the Frontiers Institute include Samsung, JSR, Honda, Hitachi Metals, Canon, and Nagase.

For more information on IBM's universal quantum computing efforts, visit http://www.ibm.com/ibmq  

For more information on IBM Systems, visit www.ibm.com/systems

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