IBM Quantum Celebrates Milestone with a Contest to Pump Up Momentum

By John Russell

April 29, 2020

Four years ago IBM made the first quantum computer available via the cloud. It was the start of what remains a rather astounding initiative that has only gotten stronger. Today IBM’s quantum network has around 250,000 users, a fleet of 18 cloud-based quantum systems, more than 100 clients for its IBM Q Network, and IBM has begun a legitimate push for a benchmark, Quantum Volume, which although not sweeping like wildfire through the community is a needed effort.

Since then, the quantum computing bandwagon has picked up many more passengers. D-Wave, of course, was already banging the drum. Others in government, commerce, and academia were also at various stages of deciding whether quantum computing was worth the investment. Many more jumped in later. Today a mix of new and old faces populate the landscape – Google, Rigetti, Intel, Microsoft, IonQ, ColdQuanta, Q-Ctrl, Zapata and very many more – spanning hardware and software in today’s mushrooming quantum information science ecosystem.

The actual anniversary of IBM’s quantum cloud debut is May 4, 2016, and Big Blue is marking the occasion by issuing the IBM Quantum Challenge: “a worldwide initiative running May 4-8. The four-day challenge lets anyone tackle programming a quantum computer through the use of circuits – from writing their first “Hello Quantum” circuit to solving a complex optimization problem.”

Jay Gambetta, IBM

Partaking in some justified chest-thumping IBM Fellow and VP, Quantum Computing, Jay Gambetta wrote in a blog this week announcing the challenge, “…175 billion quantum circuits have been executed using our hardware, resulting in more than 200 publications by researchers around the world. In addition to developing quantum hardware, we have also been driving the development of powerful open source quantum software. Qiskit, written primarily in Python, has grown to be a popular quantum computing software development kit with several novel features, many of which were contributed by dedicated Qiskitters.”

Like most developing technologies, quantum computing and its quantum-based cousins (communications, sensing, etc.) is progressing in fits and starts and is subject to argument over directions and results. All that said, IBM has been a steady force pushing forward.

Gambetta and IBMer Jerry Chow wrote in 2016 the blog post introducing access to the cloud-based IBM quantum computers. In it, they wrote, “With current numbers of qubits in our lab around 7-10, soon we will be constructing processors nearing 40-50 qubits. At that level, such devices will have enough complexity that no classical computer, anywhere, will be able to emulate them. Unearthing the quantum advantage contained within these systems, and realizing Feynman’s dream, will be within reach.”

IBM has had a 50-qubit prototype system since 2017 and made a 53-qubit commercial system available to the IBM Q Network last year. Google has a 53-qubit quantum processor. D-Wave has 2000-qubit system but it’s quantum annealing approach differs substantially from universal gate-based systems.

IBM Q System (IBM photo)

Getting to quantum advantage cited by Gambetta and Chow has also not been easy. The idea here is to be able to run a practical problem sufficiently better (faster, bigger problem, etc.) on a quantum computer that it is worth the effort (time and expense) to make the switch from traditional digital computers for that applications. That’s versus demonstrating quantum supremacy which is demonstrating the ability to do something that is simply impractical or impossible to do on classical computers. There’s been lots of bickering around the QA versus QS chase. The chase for QA is still on and the trajectory towards QS seems like to be achieved soon if it hasn’t already been.

Back to IBM’s contest. One of the challenges in advancing quantum computing is training enough people to create the necessary applications to make it useful. Lots has been done by IBM and others to try to accelerate that work and IBM’s anniversary-marking contest is another effort to inject energy and attract users.

As of this writing, there’s was no detail on the “four challenges” which will comprise the contest. Presumably they will be made available at 9 am (EDT) on opening day. IBM has made available an abundance of resources for quantum novices and experts.

Here’s a recap of the plans excerpted from Gambetta’s blog:

The IBM Quantum Challenge

As we approach the 4th anniversary of the IBM Quantum Experience, we invite you to celebrate with us by completing a challenge with 4 exercises. Whether you are already a member of the community, or this challenge is your first quantum experiment, these 4 exercises will improve your understanding of quantum circuits. We hope you can also have fun as you put your skills to test.

The IBM Quantum Challenge begins at 9:00 a.m. US Eastern on May 4 and ends 8:59:59 a.m. US Eastern on May 8. To take the challenge, visit ibm.co/quantumchallenge.

In recognition of everyone’s participation, we are awarding digital badges and providing additional sponsorship to the Python Software Foundation.

Continued investment in quantum education
Trying to explain quantum computing without resorting to incorrect analogies has always been a goal for our team. As a result, we have continuously invested in education, starting with opening access to quantum computers, and continuing to create tools that enable anyone to program them. Notably, we created the first interactive open source textbook in the field.

As developers program quantum computers, what they are really doing is building and running quantum circuits. To support your learning about quantum circuits:

      • Read the Qiskit textbook chapter where we define quantum circuits as we understand them today. Dive in to explore quantum computing principles and learn how to implement quantum algorithms on your own.
      • Watch our newly launched live lectures called “Circuit Sessions” or get started programming a quantum computer by watching “Coding with Qiskit.” Subscribe to the Qiskit YouTube channel to watch these two series and more.”

Good Luck!

Correction: An early version of this article incorrectly reported IBM had not yet developed a 50-qubit system. It has had a 50-qubit prototype since 2017 and in fact made a 53-qubit system available to the IBM Q Network last year.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industry updates delivered to you every week!

A Big Memory Nvidia GH200 Next to Your Desk: Closer Than You Think

February 22, 2024

Students of the microprocessor may recall that the original 8086/8088 processors did not have floating point units. The motherboard often had an extra socket for an optional 8087 math coprocessor. The math coprocessor ma Read more…

IonQ Reports Advance on Path to Networked Quantum Computing

February 22, 2024

IonQ reported reaching a milestone in its efforts to use entangled photon-ion connectivity to scale its quantum computers. IonQ’s quantum computers are based on trapped ions which feature long coherence times and qubit Read more…

Apple Rolls out Post Quantum Security for iOS

February 21, 2024

Think implementing so-called Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC) isn't important because quantum computers able to decrypt current RSA codes don’t yet exist? Not Apple. Today the consumer electronics giant started rolling Read more…

GenAI Having Major Impact on Data Culture, Survey Says

February 21, 2024

While 2023 was the year of GenAI, the adoption rates for GenAI did not match expectations. Most organizations are continuing to invest in GenAI but are yet to derive any substantial value from it. However, the GenAI hyp Read more…

QED-C Issues New Quantum Benchmarking Paper

February 20, 2024

The Quantum Economic Development Consortium last week released a new paper on benchmarking – Quantum Algorithm Exploration using Application-Oriented Performance Benchmarks – that builds on earlier work and is an eff Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 2283618597

Deep-dive into Ansys Fluent performance on Ansys Gateway powered by AWS

Today, we’re going to deep-dive into the performance and associated cost of running computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations on AWS using Ansys Fluent through the Ansys Gateway powered by AWS (or just “Ansys Gateway” for the rest of this post). Read more…

Atom Computing Reports Advance in Scaling Up Neutral Atom Qubit Arrays

February 15, 2024

The scale-up challenge facing quantum computing (QC) is daunting and varied. It’s commonly held that 1 million qubits (or more) will be needed to deliver practical fault tolerant QC. It’s also a varied challenge beca Read more…

A Big Memory Nvidia GH200 Next to Your Desk: Closer Than You Think

February 22, 2024

Students of the microprocessor may recall that the original 8086/8088 processors did not have floating point units. The motherboard often had an extra socket fo Read more…

Apple Rolls out Post Quantum Security for iOS

February 21, 2024

Think implementing so-called Post Quantum Cryptography (PQC) isn't important because quantum computers able to decrypt current RSA codes don’t yet exist? Not Read more…

QED-C Issues New Quantum Benchmarking Paper

February 20, 2024

The Quantum Economic Development Consortium last week released a new paper on benchmarking – Quantum Algorithm Exploration using Application-Oriented Performa Read more…

The Pulse of HPC: Tracking 4.5 Million Heartbeats of 3D Coronary Flow

February 15, 2024

Working in Duke University's Randles Lab, Cyrus Tanade, a National Science Foundation graduate student fellow and Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering, is Read more…

It Doesn’t Get Much SWEETER: The Winter HPC Computing Festival in Corpus Christi

February 14, 2024

(Main Photo by Visit Corpus Christi CrowdRiff) Texas A&M University's High-Performance Research Computing (HPRC) team hosted the "SWEETER Winter Comput Read more…

Q-Roundup: Diraq’s War Chest, DARPA’s Bet on Topological Qubits, Citi/Classiq Explore Optimization, WEF’s Quantum Blueprint

February 13, 2024

Yesterday, Australian start-up Diraq added $15 million to its war chest (now $120 million) to build a fault tolerant computer based on quantum dots. Last week D Read more…

2024 Winter Classic: Razor Thin Margins in HPL/HPCG

February 12, 2024

The first task for the 11 teams in the 2024 Winter Classic student cluster competition was to run and optimize the LINPACK and HPCG benchmarks. As usual, the Read more…

2024 Winter Classic: We’re Back!

February 9, 2024

The fourth edition of the Winter Classic Invitational Student Cluster Competition is up and running. This year, we have 11 teams of eager students representin Read more…

CORNELL I-WAY DEMONSTRATION PITS PARASITE AGAINST VICTIM

October 6, 1995

Ithaca, NY --Visitors to this year's Supercomputing '95 (SC'95) conference will witness a life-and-death struggle between parasite and victim, using virtual Read more…

SGI POWERS VIRTUAL OPERATING ROOM USED IN SURGEON TRAINING

October 6, 1995

Surgery simulations to date have largely been created through the development of dedicated applications requiring considerable programming and computer graphi Read more…

U.S. Will Relax Export Restrictions on Supercomputers

October 6, 1995

New York, NY -- U.S. President Bill Clinton has announced that he will definitely relax restrictions on exports of high-performance computers, giving a boost Read more…

Dutch HPC Center Will Have 20 GFlop, 76-Node SP2 Online by 1996

October 6, 1995

Amsterdam, the Netherlands -- SARA, (Stichting Academisch Rekencentrum Amsterdam), Academic Computing Services of Amsterdam recently announced that it has pur Read more…

Cray Delivers J916 Compact Supercomputer to Solvay Chemical

October 6, 1995

Eagan, Minn. -- Cray Research Inc. has delivered a Cray J916 low-cost compact supercomputer and Cray's UniChem client/server computational chemistry software Read more…

NEC Laboratory Reviews First Year of Cooperative Projects

October 6, 1995

Sankt Augustin, Germany -- NEC C&C (Computers and Communication) Research Laboratory at the GMD Technopark has wrapped up its first year of operation. Read more…

Sun and Sybase Say SQL Server 11 Benchmarks at 4544.60 tpmC

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Sybase, Inc. recently announced the first benchmark results for SQL Server 11. The result represents a n Read more…

New Study Says Parallel Processing Market Will Reach $14B in 1999

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- A study by the Palo Alto Management Group (PAMG) indicates the market for parallel processing systems will increase at more than 4 Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

CORNELL I-WAY DEMONSTRATION PITS PARASITE AGAINST VICTIM

October 6, 1995

Ithaca, NY --Visitors to this year's Supercomputing '95 (SC'95) conference will witness a life-and-death struggle between parasite and victim, using virtual Read more…

SGI POWERS VIRTUAL OPERATING ROOM USED IN SURGEON TRAINING

October 6, 1995

Surgery simulations to date have largely been created through the development of dedicated applications requiring considerable programming and computer graphi Read more…

U.S. Will Relax Export Restrictions on Supercomputers

October 6, 1995

New York, NY -- U.S. President Bill Clinton has announced that he will definitely relax restrictions on exports of high-performance computers, giving a boost Read more…

Dutch HPC Center Will Have 20 GFlop, 76-Node SP2 Online by 1996

October 6, 1995

Amsterdam, the Netherlands -- SARA, (Stichting Academisch Rekencentrum Amsterdam), Academic Computing Services of Amsterdam recently announced that it has pur Read more…

Cray Delivers J916 Compact Supercomputer to Solvay Chemical

October 6, 1995

Eagan, Minn. -- Cray Research Inc. has delivered a Cray J916 low-cost compact supercomputer and Cray's UniChem client/server computational chemistry software Read more…

NEC Laboratory Reviews First Year of Cooperative Projects

October 6, 1995

Sankt Augustin, Germany -- NEC C&C (Computers and Communication) Research Laboratory at the GMD Technopark has wrapped up its first year of operation. Read more…

Sun and Sybase Say SQL Server 11 Benchmarks at 4544.60 tpmC

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Sybase, Inc. recently announced the first benchmark results for SQL Server 11. The result represents a n Read more…

New Study Says Parallel Processing Market Will Reach $14B in 1999

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- A study by the Palo Alto Management Group (PAMG) indicates the market for parallel processing systems will increase at more than 4 Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire