TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2017 | ALL-HANDS DAY
8:30 AM | Intro
Matt Johnson, CEO of QC Ware, kicked-off Q2B by announcing the four motivations for establishing the conference: Stimulating QC enterprise application development, describing the ground truths around this new computational technology, reviewing the state of the art in QC hardware, algorithm and software development, and fostering a collaborative spirit among all stakeholders in the QC community. Matt pointed out that the final motivation—to support a collaborative environment—has always been a hallmark of the global physics community that gave rise to QC technology, and will be key to accelerating QC application development.
8:30 - 9:15 AM | Keynote
John Preskill – Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech
Professor Preskill’s talk kicked off the conference by presenting the consensus among the community of technical experts concerning what we can expect from quantum computing technology in the near term. Preskill is already known for having coined the phrase “quantum supremacy”, and during the conference he added to this list by coining the acronym NISQ, standing for Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum Computers, which future speakers of the conference gladly adopted. Preskill pointed out that while there is very little (if any) doubt that NISQ-era QPUs will be capable of outperforming the world’s most powerful classical supercomputers for certain computation tasks, experimenting will be key in telling us more about which useful tasks they will be capable of addressing better than current computing resources.
9:15 - 10:00 AM | Digital Quantum Computing
John Martinis – Professor at UC Santa Barbara since 2004, Research Scientist at Google since 2014
Martinis gave an enthusiastic talk about the quantum computing efforts underway at Google. If we had to summarize his talk in one line, that line would be this: “quality over quantity!” Of course, Martinis readily admits and believes that other factors are important in establishing the overall quality of a given QPU (among them the number of qubits), but he made sure to stress the fact that quality doesn’t seem to get as much attention as it probably should. Besides this, Martinis talked about Google’s planned quantum supremacy experiment. A smaller-scale version of the experiment has already been successfully demonstrated on a 9-qubit device, the results of which were published earlier this year. Work is underway to replicate the experiment on a larger, 49 qubit device early next year. If such an experiment is successful, it would mark a monumental milestone in the history of quantum computing.
10:00 - 10:30 AM | Analog Quantum Computing
Bo Ewald – President, D-Wave U.S.
D-Wave came in to the conference as the primary representative of quantum annealing technology, which gave their presentation a somewhat different flavor compared to that of the other vendors. In Bo’s words, D-Wave’s approach resembles Nike’s “just do it!” motto. With this approach, D-Wave has managed to put more but also noisier qubits on a QPU than any other hardware vendor. This has allowed several different organizations to develop what Bo calls proto-apps that run on D-Wave devices. Examples of such proto-apps include VW’s work in traffic flow optimization, Recruit Communication’s work in display advertising optimization, Los Alamos’s work on a generative model for machine learning on the D-Wave device, and many more. Initial results have been promising, but work is underway to take those proto-apps and make enterprise grade applications.
10:45 - 11:15 AM | Quantum Chemistry Applications
Bert De Jong – Group Leader & Senior Scientist at LBL
Bert de Jong discussed the quantum computing efforts taking place at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. LBL is primarily focused on using quantum technology to study quantum dynamics, quantum chemistry, materials science, and machine learning. While many groups have already investigated how quantum computing might help with extracting ground state information of several molecules, LBL is looking into how one can also extract information about the excited states, since, as Bert pointed out, many industrially relevant processes are excited state processes. On that note, LBL has been able to successfully probe some of the excited states of molecular hydrogen using quantum computing hardware. LBL is also planning to develop their own quantum computing technology, and an 8-qubit superconducting circuit-model device with ring topology will be released soon.
11:15 - 11:45 AM | Prospects for Quantum Machine Learning: The Promise and the Caveats
Peter McMahon – Postdoc at Stanford, Senior Advisor to QC Ware
Peter McMahon presented a high-level brainstorm-type talk about how quantum computers might one day revolutionize the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Many people believe these areas are where quantum computers could have their biggest impact. Practitioners in these fields are always looking for ways to expand their computational power (on that note, Peter cited the fact that, in the Bay Area alone, there are >100 start ups doing specific, special-purpose deep learning acceleration!). The main technical result behind this hope is the HHL algorithm, which was discovered only a few years ago. Partly because of how recent this discovery is, Peter pointed out that there are still many details left to be fully ironed out, and while there are many reasons to be cautious, there is also the potential for QC to substantially move the machine intelligence field forward.
11:45 AM - 12:15 PM | Optimization Applications
Masoud Mohseni – Senior Research Scientist at Google
Masoud Mohseni urged people to experiment with quantum computing technology at every step in its development, rather than wait until all doubt is laid to rest about its transformative power. Masoud pointed out that even a 1% improvement could be transformative in a winner-take-all economy, so early adopters could reap the benefits. Additionally, as was the case with deep learning, fully established theoretical support simply does not need to be there for the technology to have a tremendous impact.
1:30 - 2:00 PM | QC for Automotive Industry
Martin Hoffman – Group CIO at Volkswagen AG
Martin Hoffman presented the proof-of-concept proto-app that VW has developed to run on the DW machine. They stressed that their main motivation for this development was to check whether it was in principle possible to solve a real-world problem that is relevant to VW, and not to check whether it was necessarily faster, although that will of course be interesting in the next steps. VW has also recently announced a collaboration with Google where they will explore how circuit-model devices can help them develop better battery technology. Hoffman claimed he really feels the world is on the brink of another revolution, just as he experienced during his own life with classical computing.
2:00 - 2:30 PM | QC Applications for Finance
Paul Burchard – Head of Research in R&D and Managing Director at Goldman Sachs
Paul Burchard spoke about how Goldman Sachs is looking into how quantum computing could help them in the area of computing risk and capital, which is where Goldman Sachs currently spends the majority of their computational resources. In his talk, Paul presented the seed of an idea for a quantum-assisted Monte Carlo method for addressing computational problems from these areas. He pointed out that the idea has to be more thoroughly developed before it is ready for experimentation.
2:30 - 3:00 PM | QC Applications in Aerospace
Thierry Botter – Head of Airbus Blue Sky
Thierry Botter discussed how Airbus is looking to use quantum computing technology to address some computationally demanding tasks relevant to the aerospace industry. At Airbus, the topic of quantum computing falls within the larger frame of high performance computing. Technological solutions are evaluated in a similar fashion to other HPC systems: purely on the merit of demonstrated performances at reduced scales and the anticipated performance trend with growing quantum computing hardware, and without regard to the “quantum-ness” of the solution. Airbus and QC Ware recently investigated the use of quantum computers for fault tree analyses (FTAs). Results showed that today’s quantum annealers could rival standard commercial FTA software in certain cases and that hybrid quantum-classical approaches might in the future enable shorter calculation times. Airbus is now looking to follow up with another application case for quantum computing technology.
3:00 - 3:30 PM | QC Applications in Transport/Logistics and Manufacturing
Yianni Gamvros – Data Science and Machine Learning Leader at IBM
Yianni Gamvros spoke about how quantum computing could be used to improve the services provided by IBM in the realm of scheduling—for airline transport/logistics, and manufacturing. The real-world problems they address in this space are often times so difficult that even the ability to find solutions that are merely feasible and not necessarily optimal could be impactful. In the area of airline scheduling alone, there is the potential to recover an estimated 15-22 billion dollars per year with better scheduling solutions.
4:00 - 4:30 PM | US Public-Sector QC Funding
Carl Williams – Deputy Director, Physical Measurement Laboratory at National Institute of Standards and Technology
Carl Williams of NIST spoke about US public-sector funding in quantum computing. He maintained that while the US has a healthy community of quantum physicists, the community of quantum information scientists in particular is relatively a bit behind. On a similar note, US public-sector funding in QIS was larger in 2015 than in any other country, having totaled $350 million. Notably, however, that did not constitute the largest funding of a country when viewed on a per capita basis. Carl expressed his belief that “the key to future technologies is down the QIS road.”
4:30 - 5:00 PM | European Public-Sector QC Funding
Jürgen Mlynek – Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Falling Walls Foundation
Jürgen Mlynek spoke about European public-sector funding in quantum computing. Many technologies have already come out of quantum science, such as the laser, NMR, the transistor, GPS, optical fiber, and many more. The European Union has recently announced a 1 billion € flagship program, together with 3-, 6-, and 9-year roadmaps. Because European companies don’t invest as heavily as American companies do in this technology, public sector funding will play a relatively larger role in Europe in the near term.
5:00 - 5:30 PM | Chinese QC Funding
Xiabo Zhu – Professor at University of Science and Technology at China
Xiabo Zhu spoke about Chinese funding in quantum computing. Approximately one fourth to one third of China’s funding in quantum information science goes to quantum computing specifically. The majority of funding goes to quantum communications, at about one half, and the rest goes to other topics such as quantum sensing. Because there are fewer groups in China working in quantum computing hardware, it is likely that reaching quantum supremacy in a Chinese laboratory will take another 5-6 years, in contrast to the US. One of China’s biggest plans in the area of quantum information science is to build a national quantum communications network. Also notable was China’s recent announcement to commit $10 billion to build a national quantum information science research center.