Japan’s Nikkei Computer Interview with Landon Downs on Quantum Computing via Quantum Annealing and What’s Next for Quantum Software

May 31, 2016
1QBit co-founder and President Landon Downs was interviewed by Nikkei Computer during the 2016 Canadian-Japanese Scientific & Cultural Exchange Meeting on Quantum Computing via Quantum Annealing, which is taking place on May 30 – 31, 2016, in Tokyo.

Nikkei Computer: What is the latest general business situation of D-Wave & 1QBit?

Landon Downs: Our team has grown to just under 50 leading scientists and software developers headquartered in Vancouver. We’ve built a large portfolio of research and intellectual property relating to the development of quantum software tools and applications. We are now developing this IP into cloud services and developer tools, some of which are already available now at via our website, where an interactive notebook has been provided to allow users to explore 1QBit’s quantum-ready SDK, tutorials, and documentation. We are inviting private beta users ahead of the public release of the SDK later this year. Registration for the private beta is also possible through the 1QBit website.

To date, our quantum-ready SDK and custom services have been accessible to our Fortune 100 clients and we look forward to empowering a broader audience with the ability to develop their own quantum-ready applications for optimization problems. We are continuing to partner with new clients in the industries of finance, health sciences, and energy to customize our quantum software and tools to their specific industry problems.

Nikkei Computer: In which areas of R&D are you putting the most emphasis nowadays?

Landon Downs: Our main R&D focus is on applying the quantum-ready software and tools we have built to provide more accurate solutions to existing optimization problems using classical computers, while giving companies the ability to immediately harness the power of quantum systems to power these same applications when quantum hardware becomes available at scale.

Specific areas of R&D we are working on include: graph analytics such as graph comparison for drug development, fraud analysis, network examination; developing algorithms from a quantum lens; regression analysis for building better risk adjusted return portfolios of financial assets; optimal trading trajectories for more accurate estimation of multi-period optimization problems; and machine learning through techniques like Q-learning.

We are also conducting R&D to apply the software we’ve built to specific industry applications by partnering with Fortune 500 companies to implement our broad-application tools to solve high-value optimization problems for their business.

Nikkei Computer: What are your plans for future development?

Landon Downs: We recently released an online interactive notebook of our SDK, including tutorials that outline how our quantum software is used, and detailed documentation which provides access to the underlying technology our SDK is based on and instruction for how to develop and use quantum applications.  

We are about to release a private beta of our quantum-ready SDK prior to its public release later in the year. Also later this year, a microservices platform which will offer pre-packaged solutions that only require the user to pass in their data will be released.

We are focused on broadening access to quantum computers through the development of applications which can be run on any number of classical and quantum processors, including those which are currently in development.

Our goal is to empower and connect a bigger community of quantum software users and developers to explore new areas of application for quantum processing.

Nikkei Computer: What kind of problem could be mapped into D-Wave’s Ising model? How about deep neural network?

Landon Downs: We see great opportunities to apply quantum computers to machine learning problems. We’ve specifically been looking at Q-learning, also known as neuro-dynamic programming, which is one of the most useful forms of machine learning.

Outside of machine learning, we’ve been focusing on industry applications that are based on optimization problems which have been intractable to date using classical computing power, but which have the potential to be solved using quantum software and quantum processors which have the ability to efficiently process these types of large and complex problems.

Examples of such optimization problems include financial portfolio optimization, risk management, and fraud analysis. In the life sciences, molecule comparison for drug discovery, protein folding, and exploring genomic data are all areas of great potential, and in the energy sector we are working on analyzing seismic data, energy grid operation, and trading and hedging strategies.

Nikkei Computer: Do you have a plan to sell your product in Japan?

Landon Downs: Absolutely. Japan’s major industries of finance, automotive, and electronics are all areas which can harness our existing tools and quantum software to find more accurate and efficient solutions to optimization problems.

Our software is being made globally available through a cloud-based architecture which will be accessible to Japanese companies and individuals looking to take a leadership position in their industry by being the first to apply quantum software to improve their bottom line and gain a competitive advantage through more accurate and efficient solutions to their optimization problems.

We welcome the opportunity to work with Japan’s leading organizations who, like our Fortune 100 clients, are looking to gain a first-mover advantage by building quantum-ready applications so they can harness the exponential power of quantum processors for their most significant optimization, sampling, and machine learning problems.

1QBit recognizes that Japan has a very strong technical community and we would be honoured to engage with its members and receive their input on the tools that we have made available for exploration through our website 1qbit.com.