Charles Tahan Exits National Quantum Coordination Office

By John Russell

March 12, 2024

Editor’s Note: In case you missed this (I did though I knew it was coming) Charles Tahan, Assistant Director for the Quantum Information Science at OSTP, and Director of the National Quantum Coordination Office (NQCO), issued a goodbye letter after nearly 4 years. His successor is Gretchen Campbell and no stranger to quantum information science. She’d been serving as co-director of the Joint Quantum Institute, a joint institute between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Maryland.

The job is an interesting one. Here’s a description of NQCO’s charge taken from its website.

“The NQCO is responsible for coordinating the National Quantum Initiative and working across the federal agencies to develop the national strategy for quantum information science, including other quantum technologies like sensors and networks. The US quantum strategy is focused on getting the science right, enhancing American competitiveness, and enabling our people to benefit from this new field. Quantum information science is the quintessential critical and emerging technology. It is foundational, meaning that it will impact many different technologies from new types of sensors to disruptive quantum computers. It is emerging, because despite decades of funding – federal investment alone has doubled over the last few years – we are still learning how applications of this technology may affect society and are still working to solve the many scientific hurdles that we still face.”

That sounds both difficult and fuzzy around the edges. Being director of NQCO is no doubt challenging, and fuzzy around the edges, but perhaps with some financial clout around NQI spending. It can’t be easy. Tahan‘s letter, issued March 1, is reprinted below.

(March 1, 2024) My first official day at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was June 15, 2020, during the depths of the COVID-19 lockdown, and with nine-foot riot fences still up around the White House complex. Of course, I didn’t know all that would happen when I accepted the job as the first NQCO Director many months before. But I don’t regret starting then – at all. What I found is that it’s always an exciting time to be at OSTP. Through two Presidents, three OSTP Directors, a Presidential transition — witnessing a miracle of democracy — and the last 3.75 years, that has continued to be true.

I am still optimistic about quantum computing and quantum information science (QIS). I say that because that is the first question I often get these days. Fundamentally, what I said at the start of the National Quantum Initiative (NQI) is still true today. QIS represents a foundational shift in our understanding of information technology. Given the importance of information technology in our lives, such a shift has to be important. We have a few examples that prove it:

  • We have learned how to build more and more complex quantum hardware.
  • We are understanding better the power and limitations of quantum algorithms, quantum error correction, and applications; we have not hit a “no-go” yet.
  • We have quantum computers with 100+ qubits that are programmable over the Internet.
  • We have quantum sensors that work, at sea, in salt water, on ships.
  • Three decades after Shor’s famous paper, we are ready to deploy quantum-resistant cryptography.

As always, you can read all about the status of the NQI in the latest annual report and on quantum.gov. Perhaps one of NQCO’s greatest successes has been the close relationships we have made between agencies. The true power and uniqueness of the NQCO in the Executive Office of the President is its staff: actual federal scientists representing their respective home agencies. In the next five years, I expect engineering to take on a more important role as we climb the ladder of technology readiness levels for quantum technologies. Technical guidance will be vital to guiding that progression. What makes U.S. research and development so unique is the deep bench of technical talent we have in the federal government. It is one of our superpowers. So, please consider spending some part of your career in government service; the impact you can make is immense.

Group photo of NQCO staff. Charles Tahan is third from the left. Credit: NQCO

I learned from my first job that the most important thing you can do is find your replacement. I am grateful to tell you that Dr. Gretchen Campbell will be taking over as Assistant Director for Quantum Information Science and Director of the NQCO. Gretchen, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is an eminent scientist and has been deputy director of the NQCO for the last year and before that Co-Director of the Joint Quantum Institute. There will soon be other new members of the NQCO to support her. The goal should always be to replace yourself with someone better than you. And I can honestly say that I have done that, and it is a great thing for the U.S. quantum ecosystem.

For most of my career, I have worked in quantum computing. I have run a research group, been a program manager for quantum computing programs, been a group lead, technical director, office chief, and so on. Anyone who has worked in this field will tell you the same thing: success is not about the technology, it is about the people. With that sentiment, I want to thank everyone in the quantum ecosystem who has been contributing to the national and international effort, from the principal investigators to the graduate students, and from the entrepreneurs to the government experts and program managers.

I’m glad that I can end this last Director’s letter by highlighting my home lab: the LPS Qubit Collaboratory (LQC). NSA’s Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS) has a three-decade history of building the global quantum computing research community. With the passage of the NQI Act, before I joined OSTP, we made the case that the Intelligence Community must support the National Strategy for QIS and that LPS needed to be a National QIS Research Center, with new and expanded programs to support the national effort. The Qubit Foundry program, which provides qubits to academic groups across the country, is a great example of that commitment. The LQC’s mission is to expand disruptive qubit research, build a pipeline of talent, and form deep partnerships between government, academia, industry, and federal labs. Hence our logo is reminiscent of the surface code and—top down—also looks like four people sitting around a table, collaborating. Cooperation is how to win. I still love the logo. Thank you and best wishes.

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!

Empowering High-Performance Computing for Artificial Intelligence

April 19, 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) presents some of the most challenging demands in information technology, especially concerning computing power and data movement. As a result of these challenges, high-performance computing Read more…

Kathy Yelick on Post-Exascale Challenges

April 18, 2024

With the exascale era underway, the HPC community is already turning its attention to zettascale computing, the next of the 1,000-fold performance leaps that have occurred about once a decade. With this in mind, the ISC Read more…

2024 Winter Classic: Texas Two Step

April 18, 2024

Texas Tech University. Their middle name is ‘tech’, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been fielding not one, but two teams in the last three Winter Classic cluster competitions. Their teams, dubbed Matador and Red Read more…

2024 Winter Classic: The Return of Team Fayetteville

April 18, 2024

Hailing from Fayetteville, NC, Fayetteville State University stayed under the radar in their first Winter Classic competition in 2022. Solid students for sure, but not a lot of HPC experience. All good. They didn’t Read more…

Software Specialist Horizon Quantum to Build First-of-a-Kind Hardware Testbed

April 18, 2024

Horizon Quantum Computing, a Singapore-based quantum software start-up, announced today it would build its own testbed of quantum computers, starting with use of Rigetti’s Novera 9-qubit QPU. The approach by a quantum Read more…

2024 Winter Classic: Meet Team Morehouse

April 17, 2024

Morehouse College? The university is well-known for their long list of illustrious graduates, the rigor of their academics, and the quality of the instruction. They were one of the first schools to sign up for the Winter Read more…

Kathy Yelick on Post-Exascale Challenges

April 18, 2024

With the exascale era underway, the HPC community is already turning its attention to zettascale computing, the next of the 1,000-fold performance leaps that ha Read more…

Software Specialist Horizon Quantum to Build First-of-a-Kind Hardware Testbed

April 18, 2024

Horizon Quantum Computing, a Singapore-based quantum software start-up, announced today it would build its own testbed of quantum computers, starting with use o Read more…

MLCommons Launches New AI Safety Benchmark Initiative

April 16, 2024

MLCommons, organizer of the popular MLPerf benchmarking exercises (training and inference), is starting a new effort to benchmark AI Safety, one of the most pre Read more…

Exciting Updates From Stanford HAI’s Seventh Annual AI Index Report

April 15, 2024

As the AI revolution marches on, it is vital to continually reassess how this technology is reshaping our world. To that end, researchers at Stanford’s Instit Read more…

Intel’s Vision Advantage: Chips Are Available Off-the-Shelf

April 11, 2024

The chip market is facing a crisis: chip development is now concentrated in the hands of the few. A confluence of events this week reminded us how few chips Read more…

The VC View: Quantonation’s Deep Dive into Funding Quantum Start-ups

April 11, 2024

Yesterday Quantonation — which promotes itself as a one-of-a-kind venture capital (VC) company specializing in quantum science and deep physics  — announce Read more…

Nvidia’s GTC Is the New Intel IDF

April 9, 2024

After many years, Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC) was back in person and has become the conference for those who care about semiconductors and AI. I Read more…

Google Announces Homegrown ARM-based CPUs 

April 9, 2024

Google sprang a surprise at the ongoing Google Next Cloud conference by introducing its own ARM-based CPU called Axion, which will be offered to customers in it Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

Synopsys Eats Ansys: Does HPC Get Indigestion?

February 8, 2024

Recently, it was announced that Synopsys is buying HPC tool developer Ansys. Started in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1970 as Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI) by John Swanson (and eventually renamed), Ansys serves the CAE (Computer Aided Engineering)/multiphysics engineering simulation market. Read more…

Intel’s Server and PC Chip Development Will Blur After 2025

January 15, 2024

Intel's dealing with much more than chip rivals breathing down its neck; it is simultaneously integrating a bevy of new technologies such as chiplets, artificia Read more…

Choosing the Right GPU for LLM Inference and Training

December 11, 2023

Accelerating the training and inference processes of deep learning models is crucial for unleashing their true potential and NVIDIA GPUs have emerged as a game- Read more…

Baidu Exits Quantum, Closely Following Alibaba’s Earlier Move

January 5, 2024

Reuters reported this week that Baidu, China’s giant e-commerce and services provider, is exiting the quantum computing development arena. Reuters reported � Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Shutterstock 1179408610

Google Addresses the Mysteries of Its Hypercomputer 

December 28, 2023

When Google launched its Hypercomputer earlier this month (December 2023), the first reaction was, "Say what?" It turns out that the Hypercomputer is Google's t Read more…

AMD MI3000A

How AMD May Get Across the CUDA Moat

October 5, 2023

When discussing GenAI, the term "GPU" almost always enters the conversation and the topic often moves toward performance and access. Interestingly, the word "GPU" is assumed to mean "Nvidia" products. (As an aside, the popular Nvidia hardware used in GenAI are not technically... Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Shutterstock 1606064203

Meta’s Zuckerberg Puts Its AI Future in the Hands of 600,000 GPUs

January 25, 2024

In under two minutes, Meta's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, laid out the company's AI plans, which included a plan to build an artificial intelligence system with the eq Read more…

China Is All In on a RISC-V Future

January 8, 2024

The state of RISC-V in China was discussed in a recent report released by the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The report, entitled "E Read more…

Shutterstock 1285747942

AMD’s Horsepower-packed MI300X GPU Beats Nvidia’s Upcoming H200

December 7, 2023

AMD and Nvidia are locked in an AI performance battle – much like the gaming GPU performance clash the companies have waged for decades. AMD has claimed it Read more…

Nvidia’s New Blackwell GPU Can Train AI Models with Trillions of Parameters

March 18, 2024

Nvidia's latest and fastest GPU, codenamed Blackwell, is here and will underpin the company's AI plans this year. The chip offers performance improvements from Read more…

Eyes on the Quantum Prize – D-Wave Says its Time is Now

January 30, 2024

Early quantum computing pioneer D-Wave again asserted – that at least for D-Wave – the commercial quantum era has begun. Speaking at its first in-person Ana 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 Read more…

The GenAI Datacenter Squeeze Is Here

February 1, 2024

The immediate effect of the GenAI GPU Squeeze was to reduce availability, either direct purchase or cloud access, increase cost, and push demand through the roof. A secondary issue has been developing over the last several years. Even though your organization secured several racks... Read more…

Intel’s Xeon General Manager Talks about Server Chips 

January 2, 2024

Intel is talking data-center growth and is done digging graves for its dead enterprise products, including GPUs, storage, and networking products, which fell to Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire