Murray Thom, VP, product management, D-Wave

India is hungry for quantum technology

NEW DELHI : D-Wave Systems Inc. is the only company in the world that builds both quantum gates and quantum glow computers. In an interview, Murray Thom, D-Wave’s vice president of product management, explains why the company is building quantum gate models and shares his thoughts on when we might see quantum supremacy. Thom, who has led teams dealing with client projects related to algorithms and performance testing, also spoke about how India is doing in this space. In his previous roles at D-Wave, he was responsible for the development and delivery of the Leap quantum cloud service and Ocean’s Python-based open source tools. Edited excerpts:

How much progress has D-Wave made with its Leap quantum cloud service? Can you share some adoption numbers for India?

We launched Leap in October 2018, but allowed users in India to access it in 2020. With over 25,000 users, India is the third-highest country in LEAP sign-ups since launch. The number of people accessing quantum computers in the cloud through Leap from India has increased by 58% since January 2021. India is a leading country in software development expertise. It has an appetite for advanced technologies and Leap is all about giving people access so they can learn the technology, the programming models and how to formulate problems for the system. We’ve provided open source examples so they can do this. We want to follow the lead of the users out there in terms of their ability to demonstrate progress with practical applications and building business solutions.

You have a partnership with the University of Southern California, which works with a D-Wave quantum computer. Could you please explain this in more detail?

Yes. The University of Southern California built a quantum computing center in 2011. They’ve been able to use our quantum computer to do some really groundbreaking research in quantum computing. In terms of practical applications, they have published some great work, including how machine learning can work with our quantum computer systems to advance data analysis for Higgs bosons discovery; and methods for performing quantum annealing error correction. With the upgrade to D-Wave’s Advantage quantum system – our first 5000-plus qubit machine physically located in the US at USC’s Information Sciences Institute – the university and D-Wave will increase capacity for academic researchers, government users and industry to continue studying how quantum effects can accelerate the resolution of complex optimization, machine learning and sampling problems, and breakthrough achievements in quantum optimization. The Advantage system (Advantage2 expected to contain 7,000 qubits with a new qubit design) is accessible through the Leap quantum cloud service.

What explains the adoption of the gate model after betting on the quantum glow model?

According to Boston Consulting Group, quantum computing could create a value of $450 billion to $850 billion in the next 15-30 years. Some of it is in the space of simulations of quantum chemistry and differential equations. Another part of it is in optimization. If we want to tackle the quantum chemistry simulations, we need to be able to build the gate model quantum computers, and D-Wave wants to be the supplier of everyone’s complete quantum solution, so we are extending our product line to include the gate model systems. The other important thing is that using gate model machines for optimization is incredibly inefficient. That is why we will need both (models) for our customers in the future.

What is your strategy to simplify quantum computing for enterprises?

D-Wave aims to demonstrate business value in practical quantum applications. We believe this is the right strategy to build a new disruptive technology. For example, CaixaBank applies quantum computing when hedging investments in the insurance sector. They use our quantum hybrid solver services to code a faster algorithm to reduce the computation time required to achieve an optimal solution to improve investment portfolio hedging by up to 90% over the traditional solution. Save-On-Foods, a medium-sized supermarket chain in Western Canada, used our hybrid quantum algorithms to reduce the time to optimize the supermarket from 25 hours to just two minutes. Another example is Menten AI, which has quantum engineered proteins, synthesized them and used them for live testing of the covid virus. Actually, with the open-source Python Software Development Kit, it is very accessible for people to work on problem formulations and quickly see the practical value.

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