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National Science Foundation Taps Clouds for Quantum Computing Research

The National Science Foundation is tapping cloud-based quantum-computing platforms to further academic research.

The NSF, an independent federal agency tasked with promoting the progress of science, national health, defense and more, announced the move in a letter to colleagues last week.

The NSF said it will support supplemental funding requests to enable use of quantum-computing cloud platforms from Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM and Microsoft.

The letter states:

The field of quantum computing has seen substantial progress in recent years, with the development of next-generation quantum processors in the 50- to 100-qubit range. Realizing the promise of such processors requires significant capacity-building to prepare the next generation of quantum discoverers. In light of the quantum-computing developments in the private sector as well as the opportunity for further innovation in the academic setting, the National Science Foundation and Amazon Web Services, IBM, and Microsoft Quantum are coordinating to make available cloud-based quantum-computing platforms to advance research and build capacity in the academic setting.

Quantum computing is hard-to-describe bleeding-edge technology that promises huge advances over current-day computation capabilities. Wikipedia defines it as "the use of quantum-mechanical phenomena such as superposition and entanglement to perform computation. Computers that perform quantum computation are known as a quantum computers."

Quantum Computer Based on Superconducting Qubits Developed by IBM Research
Quantum Computer Based on Superconducting Qubits Developed by IBM Research (source: Wikipedia).

Funding will be provided by NSF for research in these areas:

  • Quantum algorithms and their experimental realization
  • Quantum compiler and run-time infrastructure design
  • Fault-tolerant computing and other methods to boost the performance of existing quantum-computing hardware
  • Benchmarking of architectures, systems, algorithms, and scalable error-correction techniques
  • Quantum simulations, optimizations, cryptography, and machine learning
  • Demonstrations of feasibility for applications of quantum algorithms

The specific platforms and their vendor-supplied descriptions are:

  • Amazon Braket: "A fully managed service that helps you get started with quantum computing by providing a development environment to explore and design quantum algorithms, test them on simulated quantum computers, and run them on your choice of different quantum hardware technologies."
  • IBM Quantum: "To advance foundational quantum computing research that will make real-world impact."
  • Microsoft Quantum: "A diverse set of quantum services, ranging from pre-built solutions to software and quantum hardware, providing developers and customers access to some of the most competitive quantum offerings on the market."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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