At the Cutting Edge of Quantum Computing Research

On today’s podcast episode of “The Interview” with The Next Platform, we focus on some of the recent quantum computing developments out of Oak Ridge National Lab’s Quantum Computing Institute with the center’s director, Dr. Travis Humble.

Regular readers will recall previous work Humble has done on the quantum simulator, as well as other lab and Quantum Insitute efforts on creating hybrid quantum and neuromorphic supercomputers and building software frameworks to support quantum interfacing. In our discussion we check in on progress along all of these fronts, including a more detailed conversation about the XACC programming framework for future quantum computers and what the future holds for a “quantum OS”.

More recently, Humble and his team at the Quantum Institute have focused on energy efficiency comparisons between CPU and quantum workloads with surprising results that show massive gains for quantum over classical architectures for some problem sets. While coming up with baseline metrics for quantum power consumption is a challenge, the team’s results are promising in terms of quantum’s role in an offload-style high performance computing environment.

In addition to talking about these research oriented efforts, we discuss what appears to hold the most early promise in terms of quantum computing approaches—gate versus annealing models—and check in on some of the hardware efforts from the few vendors working on building an ecosystem, including D-Wave and quantum startup Rigetti Computing, which we profiled recently in terms of its road to bootstrapping an expensive and niche technology.

This episode gives a big picture view of some of the specific technical questions the quantum research community will tackle in the coming years as well as a sense of what application areas in both science and enterprise could benefit most. Of course, for any of this to take off requires an unprecedented field of practice to emerge comprised of data scientists and quantum physicists—something Humble calls the “quantum engineer”—a future position to develop tools and code for these systems.

Listen in the player above for our conversation with Dr. Humble and be sure to go back and listen to previous episodes of “The Interview” with The Next Platform.

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