Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Quantum AI Consortium Grows, Seeks Open Ecosystem 

The emerging field of quantum-assisted AI is gathering momentum as partners take the initial steps toward developing an ecosystem based on open platforms.

Furthering that progress, software and algorithm specialist Cambridge Quantum Computing and Germany’s PlanQK quantum AI research consortium will collaborate on an effort to extend the reach quantum-assisted AI, or QAI.

PlanQK, which stands for Platform and Ecosystem for Quantum-Assisted Artificial Intelligence, provides a community development platform stored in a database that includes QAI algorithms, applications and data sets. The partnership gives the Cambridge Quantum Computing access to the repository that provides developers with vetted algorithms and data.

The PlanQK project seeks to expand the QAI community. Hence, the U.K. developer said it would add its TKET software development toolkit to the effort. The development kit (pronounced “ticket”) consists of a quantum software stack and compiler that translates machine-independent algorithms into circuits, an approach promoted as optimizing physical qubit design while reducing the number of operations. It also includes a qubit scheduling and routing protocol.

The compiler allows quantum programs to be written in different input formats and programming languages, then translates them to run on a range of quantum devices and simulators. Along with translation, the framework reduces circuit size, thereby reducing the amount of noise and errors that could otherwise occur in a quantum circuit.

The routing feature improves qubit-to-qubit communications, eliminating the number “swaps” required for individual qubit connections. “All of this means a user can write quantum programs or circuits without worrying about the particular device they want to run on, or run the same circuit on multiple devices,” the company said.

Among Cambridge Quantum Computing’s early investors are Honeywell Ventures and IBM Ventures. The U.K. developer recently closed a $45 million financing round.

PlanQK’s other consortium’s partners include a growing list of commercial and academic AI and quantum computing specialists, including Germany’s Fraunhofer FOKUS Data Analytics Center and startups such as HQS Quantum Simulations. Along with AI applications, HQS focuses on quantum material simulations used to develop quantum algorithms.

PlanQK is funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Economy.

Among the consortium’s goals is establishing a standardized quantum app store that would allow users to evaluate quantum AI technologies.

According to Deutsche Telekom, which jointed the QAI consortium in January, another goal is preventing any one company from achieving a dominant market position and setting de facto industry standards.

Instead, PlanQK would ensure “the development and establishment of a vendor-independent platform and associated ecosystem for quantum-assisted artificial intelligence,” the company added.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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