IBM, CQC Enable Cloud-based Quantum Random Number Generation

By Todd R. Weiss

September 21, 2020

IBM and Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) have partnered to achieve progress on one of the major business aspirations for quantum computing – the goal of generating verified, truly random numbers that can be used for a wide range of scientific, research and business tasks. Certified, verified random or nature-based numbers aren’t possible using classical computers, which only generate numbers based on specific patterns.

Quantum Random Number Generator (QRNG) services are not new, but until now, they were not available in cloud-based environments, where they can be accessed by researchers and business developers.

That has changed now that CQC, a quantum computing and algorithm vendor, announced what it claims is the first cloud-based QRNG service for users.

The beta service is a partnership with IBM and is initially available only to members of IBM’s Q Network. The Q Network includes more than 100 Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions, startups and national research labs that are working with IBM to advance quantum computing.

“Randomness is an essential and ubiquitous raw material in almost all digital interactions and is used in cybersecurity to encrypt data and communications and perform simulation analysis across many industries, including science, engineering, finance and gaming,” wrote Ilyas Khan, CEO of CQC, in a Sept. 17 blog post on the company’s website. “The application developed by CQC generates true maximal randomness, or entropy, on an IBM Quantum computer that is device independent and that can be verified and thus certified as truly quantum – and therefore truly random – for the first time.”

Denise Ruffner, the chief business officer for CQC, told EnterpriseAI that the new validated QRNG services are an important step in the continuing development of quantum computing technology.

“There are a lot of faux quantum random number generators out there and a lot of ways to generate quantum random numbers, but there has never been any way to check them,” said Ruffner. “And if you generate one, you want to be sure it is random for sure.”

The new service solves this by generating random numbers and then testing them, she said. The analyses are conducted using Bell tests, which are physics experiments designed to test the theory of quantum mechanisms, said Ruffner.

“They allow you to get a value to show that it is uniquely and truly random,” she said. “That’s really what we’ve done – the full circle.”

Quantum computer design still needs plenty of key development steps before it can be ready for production commercial use, but the work is continuing and making progress, said Ruffner.

“We think the technology is promising and we think the technology is going to change the world as we know it,” she said. “But it’s just not there yet. What’s exciting about this step is that it’s small, but it’s finally something that a quantum computer can do.”

IBM is an investor in CQC and conducted the scientific work on its own before taking it to IBM for validation by its scientists, said Ruffner.

‘Another Critical Step’ for Quantum Computing, Says Analyst

Bob Sorensen, senior vice president of research and chief analyst for quantum computing with analyst firm, Hyperion Research, said the CQC announcement on its QRNG progress is notable. Other QRNGs are in use in a wide range of research, but no others are cloud-based, he said.

“What is new, as described, is that this is the first cloud-based QRNG supported though computation on a quantum computer,” said Sorensen. “As such, it represents yet another critical step in the long, complex process of moving quantum computing from the realm of basic research to that of viable commercial productization.”

When these capabilities reach full deployment in the future, quantum computing developers working on new quantum-based algorithms and applications will benefit from a computational-based QRNG, Sorensen continued. They will be able to use it to support and validate their research, much of which draws heavily on the ability to use verified random numbers to ensure the most reliable and statistically valid outcomes, explained Sorensen.

CQC was part of the founding group of startups in the IBM Q Network’s startup program, announced in 2018. IBM invested in CQC in January of 2020. CQC recently became the first startup-based Hub in the IBM Q Network, working with other members on chemistry, optimization, finance, and quantum machine learning and natural language processing to advance the industry’s quantum computing ecosystem. CQC was founded in 2014.

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