NSF Issues DCL on Supplemental Funding Access to Cloud-based Quantum Computing

By John Russell

June 13, 2022

Looking for more access to quantum computing resources? The National Sciences Foundation (NSF) recently reiterated its support for supplemental funding for access to cloud-based quantum computing resources via Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft. The latest Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) on the topic is very similar to one issued in 2020, which initiated the program. Reprinted below is a portion of the most recent NSF DCL issued earlier this month.

DCL Excerpt:

“The field of quantum computing has witnessed substantial progress in recent years, with the development of next-generation quantum processors in the 50- to 100-qubit range and beyond. Realizing the promise of such processors requires significant capacity-building to prepare the next generation of quantum researchers and users. In light of the quantum-computing developments in the private sector as well as the opportunity for further innovation in the academic setting, the National Science Foundation, in conjunction with Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM, and Microsoft, is coordinating the availability of cloud-based access to quantum-computing platforms in order to advance research and build capacity in the academic setting. More information about the platforms is available at the following company websites.

“With this Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), NSF’s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), the Directorate for Engineering (ENG), and the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) notify the research community of their intention to support supplemental funding requests for currently active NSF awards to enable use of these quantum-computing platforms. NSF’s supplemental funding will include support for graduate students as well as fees to work on these hardware and software quantum platforms.

“This DCL is part of an experimental effort to build capacity among active NSF awardees, and their graduate students, to enable innovation in quantum computing. The community of CISE, ENG, MPS, and TIP researchers who are not already leveraging such platforms are a particular focus for this DCL. Furthermore, publication and dissemination of research-relevant experiments, code, and tutorials through GitHub and other public repositories are strongly encouraged to ensure benefit for the broad academic community.

“Supplemental funding requests will be limited to research activities in the following research areas:

    • Quantum algorithms and their experimental realization;
    • Quantum compiler and run-time infrastructure design;
    • Fault-tolerant computing and other methods to boost the performance of existing quantum-computing hardware;
    • Benchmarking of architectures, systems, algorithms, and scalable error-correction techniques;
    • Quantum simulations, optimizations, cryptography, and machine learning; and
    • Demonstrations of feasibility for applications of quantum algorithms.

“Each PI should describe in the supplemental funding request how the work of the graduate student(s), in combination with quantum cloud platform access, will build upon and extend research activities beyond those described in the original award. Additionally, PIs should describe any prior use of such platforms, and how the requested supplemental funding will build upon that prior use.”

NSF recommends PIs use CloudBank to manage the requests for access/funding to quantum resources: “The benefits of using CloudBank include no indirect costs on cloud spend; a multi-cloud, pay-per-use billing model; automated account management; help desk support; and tools to help monitor cloud spend. PIs requesting to use CloudBank will separate their proposed quantum costs from their institutional budget and the total of both may not exceed the budget limit described in this DCL (see below).”

Link to full DCL: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2022/nsf22092/nsf22092.jsp?WT.mc_ev=click&WT.mc_id=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

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