D‑Wave’s quantum computers are being used by some of the most advanced federal agencies, contractors, national laboratories, and research institutes in the U.S. Here are a few of them.
Lockheed Martin is one of the largest defense contractors in the world, and was D‑Wave’s first customer. Among many other capabilities, Lockheed Martin designs highly elaborate systems. Yet, on average, half the cost of creating them is on verification and validation (V and V).
Lockheed’s Chief Scientist, Ned Allen, wanted to explore an entirely new approach that might reduce the cost and time for V and V, recognizing that in the future systems would become even more complex. For help finding a quantum system to solve the problem, Allen turned to Daniel Lidar, a professor of electrical engineering, chemistry, and physics at the University of Southern California (currently the Director and co-founder of the USC Center for Quantum Information Science & Technology).
Ned Allen sent D‑Wave a sample problem to run on its system. It was a 30-year-old chunk of code from an F-16 aircraft with an error that took Lockheed Martin’s best engineers several months to find. Just six weeks after sending it to D‑Wave, the software error was identified.
In late 2010 Lockheed Martin became the first D‑Wave customer. Their 128-qubit D‑Wave One system, installed at USC’s Information Sciences Institute, was upgraded to the 512-qubit D‑Wave Two system in 2013, then upgraded again to the 1000+ qubit D‑Wave 2X quantum computer in 2015.
“This is a revolution not unlike the early days of computing. It is a transformation in the way computers are thought about.”
– Ray Johnson, former Lockheed Martin chief technical officer
The Information Sciences Institute (ISI) is a world leader in research and development of advanced information processing, computer and communications technologies. It was founded in 1972 with $6M of funding from DARPA. A unit of the University of Southern California’s highly ranked Viterbi School of Engineering, ISI is one of the nation’s largest, most successful university-affiliated computer research institutes. The Institute attracts nearly $60 million annually for basic and applied research from federal agencies and the private sector.
The D‑Wave system purchased by Lockheed Martin is installed at USC’s Information Sciences Institute, one of the world’s leaders in computing technologies. The computing center was constructed to support future generations of quantum computer chips, thus positioning the school and its partners at the forefront of quantum computing research.
USC’s research focuses on theoretical and practical aspects of adiabatic quantum optimization, which is how the D‑Wave system performs computation, encoding a problem as a search for the lowest energy state of a physical quantum system.
“USC faculty, USC Information Sciences Institute researchers, and students conduct theoretical and experimental quantum research on the D‑Wave Two system, the world’s first commercial adiabatic quantum optimizer and by far the largest functional quantum information processor ever built – placing the QCC at the leading edge of potentially revolutionary research”.
The Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab (QuAIL)
Google, NASA and USRA Collaboration
The Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab (QuAIL), a joint initiative of Google, NASA and Universities Space Research Association (USRA), is dedicated to pioneering research on how quantum computing can be applied to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and difficult optimization problems. In 2013, a D‑Wave Two system was installed QuAIL, which is located at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. In September 2015 the system was upgraded to a 1000+ qubit D‑Wave 2X quantum computer.
“We believe quantum computing may help solve some of the most challenging computer science problems, particularly in machine learning.”
– Hartmut Neven, Director of Engineering, Google
The research team at Google is focusing on how the quantum system may help build more accurate models for everything from speech recognition, to web search, to protein folding.
NASA aims to demonstrate that quantum computing and quantum algorithms may someday dramatically improve algorithms for optimization tasks in air traffic control, autonomy, robotics, navigation and communication, system diagnostics, pattern recognition, and mission planning and scheduling.
USRA manages the science operations for the collaboration, which includes an allocation of 20% of the computing time to the academic community through a competitive selection process.
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of United States national security, has played a role in some of the most transformational discoveries of the 20th and 21st centuries.
In 2016, LANL acquired a D‑Wave 2X system in support of its leading role in a collaboration within the Department of Energy and with select university partners to explore the capabilities and applications of quantum annealing technology.
“Researching and evaluating quantum annealing as the basis for new approaches to address intractable problems is an essential and powerful step, and will enable a new generation of forward thinkers to influence its evolution in a direction most beneficial to the nation.”
-Mark Anderson of the Laboratory’s Weapons Physics Directorate
With a goal of exposing as many LANL people as possible to D‑Wave software development, LANL issued a rapid response call to scientists to propose projects involving the use of the D‑Wave system. Many projects were approved, including projects focused on optimization, machine learning, theoretical and accelerator physics, computer science, statistics, data science, and material science.
More information about the projects can be found at this LANL website page.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is a multi-program research laboratory dedicated to helping ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental, and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. ORNL employs almost 5000 people, including scientists and engineers in more than 100 disciplines, and houses Titan, the nation’s fastest supercomputer.
In 2017 D-Wave announced it had signed an agreement with ORNL aimed at advancing hybrid computing applications, particularly targeted at helping accelerate future exascale applications. Under the agreement, ORNL scientists will have cloud access to a D-Wave 2000Q™ system to allow for exploration of hybrid computing architectures as a way to achieve better solutions for scientific applications.
“ORNL researchers are investigating the use of quantum, neuromorphic, and other new computing architectures with the potential to accelerate applications and programs important to the Department of Energy. This agreement fits squarely within our objective of providing distinctive equipment and unique facilities to our researchers to solve some of the nation’s most compelling computing challenges.”
– Dr. Jeff Nichols, Associate Laboratory Director of Computing and Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
As part of the joint effort, D-Wave personnel will work with ORNL to map applications to the D-Wave architecture in order to solve new types of problems, and to solve existing problems faster by combining computing architectures.