IBM doubles quantum volume in the race for computing supremacy

Jamie Garcia, global lead for Quantum Applications, IBM Research, talks at CES 2020 about how IBM reached milestones in quantum computing in 2019.

IBM doubles quantum volume in the race for computing supremacy

TechRepublic's Teena Maddox talked to Jamie Garcia, senior manager, Algorithms, Applications and Theory Team at IBM Research, at CES 2020 about about the quantum news that IBM has released this week and what's to come. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation. 

Jamie Garcia: We just released news that we have achieved a 32-quantum volume, which is in line with us doubling our quantum volume every single year. That's one of the big news releases this conference. Another one that just came out is that we hit a 100 partners in our IBM Q network. That's a pretty big milestone as well. There's a lot going on in quantum.

Teena Maddox: With the race for quantum computing, what does that mean when you've increased the volume? What does it mean for a person such as myself?

SEE: CES 2020: The big trends for business (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature)

Jamie Garcia: Quantum volume has to do with number of q-bits--just increasing number of q-bits. Right now, we have a 53 q-bit device, for example, keeping to push that forward. And then in addition to that--at the exact same time--reducing the amount of error in the q-bits. What that enables us to do is to be able to perform calculations that need to have very low error rates so we can expand what we're doing in the application space, for example, and thinking about client problems and calculations that we're doing on the quantum computer for clients.

That's really what it means, is if we push that forward. We're just going to be able to do more and more.

Teena Maddox: What are some of the practical applications for business when they're using quantum computing--when that does become a reality?

Jamie Garcia: The three areas that we like to work in are chemistry, finance, and then machine learning optimization. Any problems that have a mathematical optimization problem with it. Chemistry is one that's very near and dear to my heart, since my background is in chemistry. We can perform quantum chemistry calculations to be able to model compounds and look at their reactivity, chemical reactivity, and properties.

Teena Maddox: What do you see the future holding for this?

Jamie Garcia: I think as we continue to push the limits of quantum volume and expand out the compute capabilities, we're going to start seeing larger systems being modeled, and start pushing what we can do towards quantum advantage, and really starting to see a quantum advantage in chemistry, machine learning, and finance.

Teena Maddox: Can you tell us a little bit about the work you've done with some of your clients?

Jamie Garcia: Absolutely. Today, we just announced some work that we've done with Daimler Mercedes Benz, and this is work that we're doing towards understanding battery chemistry. Lithium sulfur batteries in particular--batteries that will, for example, be able to charge up a vehicle to go long ranges, past what we can do with lithium-ion technologies. 

We've really started looking at the chemistries in depth using quantum computers and understanding energetics associated with that and moving towards the next generation of batteries.

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