Quantum Computing for Business

NASA-Ames Research Center, Building 152  |  mountain view, California
December 4 - 6, 2017


Q2B Intro
Matt Johnson, QC Ware

John Preskill, Caltech

Digital Quantum Computing
John Martinis, Google


Analog Quantum Computing
Bo Ewald, D-Wave International

Quantum Chemistry Applications
Bert de Jong, LBL

QC Applications in Transport/Logistics and Manufacturing
Yianni Gamvros, IBM


US Public-Sector QC Funding
Carl Williams, NIST


European Public-Sector QC Funding
Juergen Mlynek, EU Flagship Program

Chinese QC Funding
Xiaobo Zhu, University of Science and Technology at China



ATOS - QC Simulation Products
Scott Hamilton & Philippe Duluc, Atos

IonQ - Ion Trap QC Program
Dave Moehring, CEO, IonQ


Welcome to the inaugural business-focused global QC conference where you'll join leaders in quantum software, hardware, and top VCs to explore the future of quantum computing.

Guest Speakers



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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.


8:30 - 9:30 AM | Keynote

Rupak Biswas – Director, Exploration Technology at NASA Ames Research Center

Eleanor Rieffel – Research Computer Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center

Rupak Biswas kicked off the second day of Q2B by giving the first half of the keynote.  NASA is faced with a plethora of computationally demanding tasks, so quantum computing is a natural option for NASA to explore.  NASA is not interested in pursuing quantum computation as pure science research per se, but rather as a potential avenue for answering previously intractable questions in other areas of their scientific research.  Eleanor Rieffel continued with the second half of the keynote address.  She expressed the same sentiment that many expressed during the conference, namely that quantum heuristics could significantly broaden applications of quantum computing, even if they don’t necessarily come with a rigorous mathematical proof of optimality.  She cited the success of many classical heuristics as a reason for why one could reasonably expect similar success in the quantum arena.

9:30 - 10:15 AM | ATOS - QC Simulation Products

Philippe Duluc – CTO Big Data & Security Atos

Scott Hamilton – Solutions Architect at Bull, and Atos Company

Philippe Duluc talked about some of Atos’s involvement in the space of quantum computing.  Their main project at the moment is the Quantum Learning Machine, which is an on-site hardware simulator of gate-based quantum computations.  Scott Hamilton then described some of the technical features of the device.  Scott and Philippe hope such a simulator can serve as a sort of sandbox for developers to learn about how to design useful quantum programs.

10:15 - 10:45 AM | IBM - QC Hardware/Software Programs

Jerry Chow – Manager, Experimental Quantum Computing at IBM

Jerry Chow talked about IBM’s quantum computing hardware.  He stated that IBM has made tremendous leaps in the last few years.  In 2015, a 5-qubit device was put online for the general public to access for free, becoming the first publicly available universal quantum computer.  Fast forward to today, 20- and 50-qubit devices have been built by IBM.  Some final calibrations need to be performed on these devices before they are released to a broader audience.  Jerry also discussed the need for high-quality qubits, and for the need to evolve commonly-accepted metrics to compare quantum processor performance.

11:00 - 11:30 AM | Microsoft - QC Harware/Software Programs

Julie Love - Quantum Business Development Director

Julie Love talked about the quantum computing efforts by Microsoft.  Microsoft is taking the ambitious bet to develop a quantum computer based on the theoretically elegant and robust Majorana qubit.  One major challenge at the moment is that no such qubit has been physically built.  Alongside their hardware efforts, Microsoft is developing a software stack that will help users maximize the use of their underlying hardware. Julie demoed a version of the variational quantum algorithm and quantum teleportation on Microsoft’s current quantum software.

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM | IonQ - Ion Trap QC Program

David Moehring - CEO

Dave Moehring represented IonQ at Q2B.  IonQ is a UM spin-off start-up company that is building ion trap quantum computers.  Along with superconducting qubits, trapped ions at present seem to be one of the most promising approaches to building a medium-scale quantum computers.  For such medium scale quantum computers, ion traps have the advantage that they can in principle be fully connected, which makes the types of computations one can perform on such a device extremely flexible.  Small ion traps have already been physically built, and algorithms such as Grover’s algorithm have already been experimentally demonstrated on up to 5-qubit devices.

12:00 - 12:45 PM | Hardware Panel

Moderator – Ryan Madelbaum, Gizmodo; Eric Ostby, Google; Jerry Chow, IBM; Bob Willett, Nokia; Bo Edwald, D-Wave; Dave Moehring, IonQ

During the hardware panel session, several of the hardware vendors shared their thoughts on various aspects of quantum computing hardware, in particular what they think we’ll see in the near term.  The overwhelming sentiment expressed is that the field is too dynamic at the moment to be able to make meaningful predictions about the far future.  In the near term, however, most agree that we are on the brink of uncovering real-world applications in quantum chemistry, simulations, and optimization.

1:45 - 2:15 PM | VC Perspective on QC Investment Opportunities

Shaun Maguire – PhD Candidate at Caltech, Partner at GV

Shaun Maguire is a partner at GV, and during his talk he shared some of the VC perspective on quantum computing.  Shaun believes the field has been progressing incredibly quickly.  As an example, Shaun cited the exponential progress made in improving qubit coherence time over the last few years, and he feels that similarly great progress has been made in the other features of a quantum computer that are necessary for it to be useful.  Shaun stated that he believes the barrier for getting VC funding in quantum computing is higher than it was just a few years ago, and views most of the funding opportunities today as being in the quantum computing software space.

2:15 - 3:00 PM | VC Panel

Moderator – Luka Tomljenovic, Airbus Ventures; Shaun Maguire, GV; Maryann Saenko, DFJ; Aaron VanDevender, Founders Fund; Joe Raffa, IBM Ventures; Aaron Sisto, In-Q-Tel

A wide range of views were expressed during the VC panel.  Maryanna stated that she is not interested in funding science projects, but rather businesses that are meaningful and can provide large margins.  Furthermore, she is actively looking in the software spaces.  Similarly, Shaun stated that he views most of the current funding opportunities in quantum computing to be in the software space.  Joe expressed that IBM is looking for very strategic funding opportunities.  For example, IBM might be interested in funding companies that would work on a daily basis with IBM.  Aaron VanDevender did not have any particularly strong biases, but he is primarily interested in funding players that are a first in their area.  Perhaps the most distinct view was presented by Aaron Sisto.  In-Q-Tel is taking a more exploratory approach, and is interested in players in all stages in their development so long as they sound promising.

3:00 - 3:45 PM | Software Panel

Moderator - Lawrence Gasman, CIR; Matt Johnson, QC Ware; Chris Savoie, Zapata; Andrew Fursman, 1Qbit; Michael Brett, QxBranch; Bindu Madhavan, SAP; Iordanis Kerenedis, CNRS – Paris Centre for Quantum Computing

Three major themes seemed to have been shared amongst all of the participants. First, because quantum computing is human-resource limited, independent software vendors will play a key role in bridging emerging quantum hardware with enterprise users.  Second, because of the relatively small amount of capital required to make an impact in the software space (as opposed to hardware), many agreed that, at present, many of the opportunities to make an impact in the broader quantum computing space lie in the software space.  Third, and as had already been expressed by many at the conference, they agreed that it is too early to predict exactly when we would see the first quantum computing use cases, and that a hands on, experimental approach will be key in reeling this date in as near as possible.


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