Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has chosen the University of Southern California to head a consortium of Universities and Private Companies to develop quantum computers that are no less than 10,000 times faster than the best sophisticated classical computers.
USC will guide the effort among various Universities and Private Contractors to design, construct and test 100 qubit quantum machines. Such high-powered machines could help enable the solution of some of the most tough optimization problems such as resolving scheduling conflicts in events with many participants, machine learning for image recognition, as well as sampling for enhanced prediction of random events. Pending continued success, the contract is valued at $45 million in funding.
At USC, the effort includes the USC Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology in the Viterbi School of Engineering, and the Center for Quantum Computing at the Information Sciences Institute, a unit of the Viterbi School. Quantum computing expert Daniel Lidar, Director of the USC Center for Quantum Information Science & Technology and the Viterbi Professor of Engineering, will serve as the Chief Investigator of the multi-institutional effort and Professor Stephen Crago of the Information Sciences Institute will serve as the Program/Technical Manager.
The consortium will be concentrating on the design and testing of new hardware and algorithms. They will create the computational framework and design quantum annealers, which are the dedicated processors behind quantum optimization. The Researchers will develop ways to link the building blocks of quantum annealers–qubits or the standard units in quantum computing that hold bits of information and the couplers, which link the qubits to one another. The team’s ambition is to design multi-qubit couplers to allow for a variety of configurations that will enable quicker paced calculations. Government partner MIT Lincoln Labs will fabricate the hardware developed by the USC-led consortium.
The team’s goal is to construct quantum annealers that allow for what quantum computing researchers term as “high coherence” or long coherence time so that the qubits act in a quantum manner for extended periods of time. This would mean that qubits can withstand quantum states like superposition, when they are concurrently in two or more states.
We are enormously gratified to have been selected by IARPA to lead the development of a new generation of quantum annealers for enhanced quantum optimization. This project has the potential to reshape the landscape of quantum computing, and I could not have asked for a better team to pursue this exciting goal.
Daniel Lidar, Director of the USC Center for Quantum Information Science & Technology
“IARPA’s QEO program promises to propel the U.S. into a clear leadership position in the worldwide race to develop a quantum computer at scale. We are fortunate to have a scientific leader of Dr. Lidar’s caliber and accomplishment. We are grateful to IARPA for their investment in our team and we look forward to redeeming QEO’s promise in full measure,” said Prem Natarajan, The Michael Keston Executive Director of the Information Sciences Institute.
The following institutions will be part of the five-year research initiative: MIT, Caltech, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Saarland University, University of Waterloo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Lockheed Martin, University College London, and Northrop Grumman. MIT Lincoln Labs will provide government furnished capability, while NASA Ames and Texas A&M will serve as government test and evaluation teams.