What Does it Mean to be "Quantum Ready"

The trends and issues that researchers/companies are starting to face as they begin to explore commercial quantum computing.

QRA - Quantum Ready
QRA - Quantum Ready

Computing, cryptography, and information are some of the hottest buzzwords being appended to the term “quantum” these days, and companies such as QRA have one more to add to the list: “ready”. These terms are all rightfully met with an increased level of scrutiny, as the words themselves are so often breathless terms. So what does QRA mean when it says it is “Quantum Ready”? And where is Quantum Computing Technology headed within the systems engineering industry?

Some Background on Current Quantum Efforts

There are three common views of the current quantum computing field.

  1. The Quantum Pessimist: Quantum computing as a harnessable technology is impossible and will never surpass the effectiveness of classical computers.
  2. The Quantum Neutralist: Quantum computers could exist, but no current technologies have been made demonstrating any form of quantum computing.
  3. The Quantum Optimist: We have begun the infancy of the Quantum Computing revolution and current quantum technologies will follow trajectories not unlike Moore’s law.

Promising companies developing Quantum Computing today include D-Wave Systems, Google’s group led by John Martinis, and IBM. The D-Wave is the first Quantum Computer to be commercialized, and has publicly been sold to Lockheed Martin, and a Nasa/Google partnership. QRA is also among the first to work with one of D-Wave’s Quantum Computers, firmly proclaiming themselves as Quantum Optimists.

QRA has been developing their verification tools to run as quantum algorithms since their beginning. However QRA’s core services are not generally delivered via Quantum Computing, which leads to what we call “Quantum Ready”. Beyond developing its analysis engines for standard high-performance computing architectures, QRA has also built a quantum compiler, or mapper, called QCC, which maps the in-use quantum chip’s topology to discover exactly how to format the problems for consistent solving. QRA has used these technologies to successfully run parts of their algorithms on the D-Wave System, however the machine does not yet have the quantum architecture capable of running QRA’s huge verification projects.

An Example

Say QRA is asked to formally verify the early-stage design of an entire naval ship, which could be a task complex enough to bring even the mightiest supercomputer to their knees. According to theory and initial testing, Quantum Computing could be the perfect architecture to run this problem. However such a complex problem does not fit on any of the current quantum computers, as there are simply not enough “nodes” to support it on the chip.

When Can we go from Ready to Doing?

QRA has tried to work around this structural limit by using tactics such as factorization to chunk complex problems to fit within the limited number of nodes. The reality is that the world will need to wait a little longer for the commercial application of quantum computers. Future quantum computers may not even be computers at all, and simply be quantum chips within a traditional computer to help with specific problems, similar to a GPU. We will have to wait, innovate, and see.

As only Lockheed Martin and Nasa/Google have publicly bought Quantum Computers, the era when companies can confidently say they are using Quantum Computing as a service is still yet to come. Until then, companies such as QRA will have to continue innovating to remain “Quantum Ready”.