Navigating Quantum Computing: Accelerating Next-Generation Innovation

It’s no secret: quantum computing has been poised to be “the next big thing” for years. But recent developments in the quantum ecosystem, including major investments by companies such as IBM, Google, Microsoft and others, are the best indicators that now is the time to begin preparing for potentially viable quantum applications—and to identify where and when to most effectively use them.

“Classical” computers operate in a binary fashion, processing information as either zeros or ones. But quantum computers? They leverage quantum mechanics so data can exist simultaneously in multiple states—zeros, ones or both. The result is a supercomputer that can explore countless possibilities at once and produce results in minutes or seconds instead of hours, weeks or years.

Projected use-case areas span multiple industries and market sectors. In finance, for example, quantum computing could be utilized for portfolio optimization, risk management and algorithmic trading. In healthcare, it could enable advancements in drug discovery, personalized medicine and disease modeling. In logistics, it could optimize supply chain management, route optimization and scheduling.

At the same time, there’s a gap between what quantum can do at the current moment versus anticipated capabilities in the next three to five years.

“In each real-world application, the first step in solving the problem is translating it to a computational problem. After that’s done, you need to choose—or develop—an algorithm for solving that problem. And because these applications are things people do every day, there are clearly a number of ‘classical’ computing algorithms that are known—and still being explored—for solving the associated problems,” says John McNally, Wolfram Academic Innovation Solutions Developer. “The catch is that the scale of certain real applications can become too great for even the best classical computing resources to successfully carry out any known classical algorithm to reach a full solution.”

At this point, quantum algorithms and the hardware needed to run them become interesting. And there are important questions to address, in particular how to scale up quantum systems following practical fault-tolerant approaches.

And this is where the Wolfram Quantum Framework comes in.

Wolfram Quantum Framework

On its own, the Wolfram Quantum Framework is not a quantum computer. Instead, it is a set of tools to model quantum circuits and design algorithms. Then, after you’ve analyzed a quantum system using classical means, the Framework also gives you tools to automatically translate your models into representations that can be run on quantum hardware through service connections with Amazon Braket and other providers:

The Wolfram Quantum Framework’s key advantage, however, is its seamless integration with Wolfram Language. This includes optimized numerics and symbolics that offer a streamlined approach to quantum computation.

“Aside from working numerically, you can specify noise channels, gates or even elements of a Hamiltonian as symbolic parameters,” McNally says. “This allows you to get exact formulas out of your analysis rather than numerical simulations only. Plus, it seamlessly integrates with other quantum platforms, even across different programming languages.”

Wolfram’s symbolic computation offers distinct benefits over numerically based programming languages by enabling the calculation of “exact” solutions to complex problems. For academia, this means a deeper understanding of quantum principles and the ability to explore new frontiers in research. But for businesses, prospective bottom-line returns include potential cost savings through more efficient algorithms, improved accuracy in simulations and predictions, and faster innovation cycles.

The Wolfram Quantum Framework continues to evolve with new features to expand the Framework’s support for different computational models, such as tensor networks and stabilizer formalism, as well as to accommodate a wider range of quantum tasks. Additionally, plans are underway to introduce enhancements to improve usability, scalability and compatibility with emerging quantum hardware technologies.

The Future of Quantum

Navigating quantum is more than thinking about quantum algorithms alone: it also means understanding the world of classical algorithms to identify when practical problems make contact with the rapidly developing world of quantum hardware. This uniquely positions Wolfram Research to address challenging quantum problems and develop quantum utilities, particularly considering its longstanding development of classical algorithms and well-developed footprint in academia.

In a larger sense, the development of quantum capabilities is going to result in a great divide: the haves and the have-nots, or more importantly, the dids and the did-nots. While quantum hardware is not yet where it’s going to be for use on an industrial scale, the time is now to begin planning for its use when it is. And while this may seem a bit nebulous, vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others, and those who understand how quantum will benefit them stand to reap the most significant rewards.

Contact the Wolfram Consulting Group to learn how the Wolfram Quantum Framework can provide insights and tools for innovation.