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US Intelligence Launches Quantum Computing Research Program – And How You Might Get Recruited

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The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), the research arm of US intelligence, believes that research into quantum computing is advanced enough to warrant a five-year program to speed things along.

It is launching the Logical Qubits (LogiQ) research program to overcome the current practical limitations of quantum computing.

Quantum computers may theoretically be able to solve certain problems, including code breaking, much faster than classical computers and perform computations that would be otherwise impossible. This has generated much enthusiasm in researchers and venture capitalists. Now the intelligence community wants to harness the power of quantum computing for its challenging data processing requirements and move beyond the research stage and build operational, fault tolerant, scalable quantum computers.

IBM Qubit Quantum computers encode information in “qubits.” In quantum computing, a quit or quantum bit (sometimes qbit) is a unit of quantum information—the quantum analogue of the classical bit. A qubit is a two-state quantum-mechanical system, such as the polarization of a single photon: here the two states are vertical polarization and horizontal polarization. In a classical system, a bit would have to be in one state or the other. However quantum mechanics allows the qubit to be in a superposition of both states at the same time, a property which is fundamental to quantum computing.

Foundational research is out of scope for this, the document states, as is adiabatic quantum computing (D-Wave) and quantum simulation. Instead, grant applications have to develop technologies that have “already demonstrated multi-qubit operations and control.”

The funding – the amount in the pool isn’t stipulated but the documents assume that some projects could exceed $700,000 – is for researchers to take “imperfect physical qubits” and assemble them into a logical qubit.

“LogiQ envisions that program success will require a multi-disciplinary approach that increases the fidelity of quantum gates, state preparation, and qubit readout; improves classical control; implements active quantum feedback; has the ability to reset and reuse qubits; and performs further system improvements”, the funding request states.

The key program target is to “perform universal quantum gate set in multi-physical-qubit system” – with 99.9 per cent fidelity at the end of five years.

IARPA evidently believes it’s at least feasible that a working multi-qubit quantum gate with that kind of accuracy is achievable within the timeframe.

“Success in building practical quantum computers hinges on the ability to combat environment-induced decoherence and errors in quantum gates. This can be effectively and extensibly achieved by innovations that encode physical qubits into a logical qubit”, the LogiQ document notes.

And while scalability isn’t a requirement of this grant round, “LogiQ seeks a modular architecture design of two coupled logical qubits that creates a flexible and feasible path to larger systems.”

IARPA said the LogiQ Program would begin on February 1st, 2016, and end by January 31st, 2021. IARPA is now seeking creative technical solutions to the challenge of encoding imperfect physical qubits into a logical qubit that protects against decoherence, gate errors, and deleterious environmental influences. The deadline for the initial round of proposals is September 1st. You might get recruited here.

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“US Intelligence Launches Quantum Computing Research Program – And How You Might Get Recruited”