Thursday, October 19, 2017

IBM brings quantum computing to the masses

Big Blue builds on successful work around cognitive Watson and blockchain to ready the next big thing: quantum computing.

IBM has taken an historical step towards mass adoption of quantum computing by launching a commercialised quantum computing system aimed at businesses and the science industry.

Dubbed as IBM Q, the system and services will be delivered via the IBM Cloud platform.

These computing systems entail a new era for mass data analytics in a world where extracting the right information with the smallest latency possible is becoming ever more crucial.

As IBM explains, quantum computing will deliver solutions to problems where patterns cannot be seen because the data does not exist and the possibilities that data scientists need to explore to get to the answer are too enormous to ever be processed by classical computers.

IBM said it intends to build IBM Q systems to expand the application domain of quantum computing.

As a first step to increase Quantum Volume – which includes the number of qubits, quality of quantum operations, qubit connectivity and parallelism -, IBM is aiming at constructing commercial IBM Q systems with ~50 qubits in the next few years.

The company has also launched a call to the industry calling for partnerships to be formed in order to develop applications that exploit the quantum speedup of the systems.

The introduction of quantum computing will disrupt most industry with IBM first targeting the enterprise and the science and research fields.

The company believes the introduction of such systems in the drugs and materials discovery spaces will allow to untangle the complexity of molecular and chemical interactions leading to the discovery of new medicines and materials.

Financial services, artificial intelligence, cloud security and supply chain and logistics are other verticals posed to benefit from the adoption of quantum computing.

Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director for IBM Research, said: “Following Watson and blockchain, we believe that quantum computing will provide the next powerful set of services delivered via the IBM Cloud platform, and promises to be the next major technology that has the potential to drive a new era of innovation across industries.”

In addition to the launch of IBM Q, the company has also released a new API for the IBM Quantum Experience to enable 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.

Furthermore, IBM has released 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.