Quantum Bits: Atos Delivers Simulator, Long-lived Ion Qubit, NSF Workshop Results

By John Russell

May 19, 2020

It never seems quiet in the quantum (computing) world. Atos today delivered what it’s calling “the highest performing” quantum simulator available – the 30-qubut Atos Quantum Learning machine called Kvasi. The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced yesterday availability of materials developed from a recent virtual workshop, “Key Concepts for Future Quantum Information Science Learners,” targeting k-12 educators. Meanwhile UCLA researchers reported in Nature/npj a “new record” for preparing and measuring ion-based qubits without error.

Beginning with the Atos news. Getting quantum simulator – classical systems designed to let developers run and test quantum algorithms – are deemed critical in building the quantum computing ecosystem. This particular system was delivered to CSC – IT Center for Science and is the next step in Atos-CSC collaboration begun in 2018.

“Kvasi will bring a novel and interesting addition to CSC’s computing environment. The quantum processor simulator enables learning and design of quantum algorithms, supported by an ambitious user program. All end-users of CSC’s computing services will have access to Kvasi”, said. Pekka Manninen, Program Director, CSC, in the official announcement.

The Atos QLM consists of an accessible programming environment, optimization modules to adapt the code to targeted quantum hardware constraints, and simulators that allow users to test their algorithms and visualize their computation results. “This allows for realistic simulation of existing and future quantum processing units, which suffer from quantum noise, quantum decoherence, and manufacturing biases. Performance bottlenecks can thus be identified and circumvented,” reports Atos.

The NSF workshop, “hosted” by Harvard is among the many long-term efforts being mounted to develop a qualified workforce in quantum information sciences.

“The workshop resulted in a list of key concepts for future quantum information science (QIS) learners. The document provides a concise list of nine basic concepts, including quantum entanglement, communication, and sensing. As the authors write: “The Key Concepts are not intended to be an introductory guide to quantum information science, but rather provide a framework for future expansion and adaptation for students at different levels in computer science, mathematics, physics, and chemistry courses.” The stakeholder community is able to provide input via the contact and feedback form,” according to NSF.

Workshop participants represented a “set of convergent disciplines that contribute to QIS today: physics, computer sciences, materials sciences, engineering, chemistry, and mathematics. Document development efforts were led by experts from the Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center (IQUIST), the University of Chicago, Georgetown University and the Museum of Science, Boston.”

Among the many qubit technologies being worked on, trapped ion technology has been a leader in long coherence times. The UCLA researchers report they “developed a new qubit hosted in a laser-cooled, radioactive barium ion. This “goldilocks ion” has nearly ideal properties for realizing ultra-low error rate quantum devices, allowing the UCLA group to achieve a preparation and measurement error rate of about 0.03%, lower than any other quantum technology to date, said co-senior author Wesley Campbell, also a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy,” according to a report posted by UCLA.

As is noted in the article, the most powerful quantum computers today are so-called noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) devices and are very sensitive to errors. “Error in preparation and measurement of qubits is particularly onerous: for 100 qubits, a 1% measurement error means a NISQ device will produce an incorrect answer about 63% of the time,” according said senior author Eric Hudson, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, who is quoted in the article. Their Nature/npj paper is, High-fidelity manipulation of a qubit enabled by a manufactured nucleus.

Link to Atos news: https://atos.net/en/2020/press-release/general-press-releases_2020_05_19/atos-and-csc-empower-the-finnish-quantum-research-community-with-atos-quantum-learning-machine

Link to NSF release: https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/announcements/051820.jsp

Link to UCLA researchers’ paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41534-020-0265-5#Sec2

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