ABN AMRO and QuSoft have formed a two-year partnership to explore future applications of quantum algorithms. The partnership was announced by ABN AMRO’s Quantum programme manager Dimitri van Esch at the Quantum Tech conference in Boston in the United States on 11 September.
Quantum algorithms allow companies and researchers to enter a whole new world of technological possibilities. In the future, quantum computers could prove highly useful in processing and monitoring data from financial transactions, for example. The need to better understand those possibilities is becoming more pressing as new products and new applications generate ever-increasing volumes of data.
With the volume of processing data rising exponentially, soon normal computers will no longer be powerful enough to complete calculations within the time available. Quantum algorithms can help to quickly identify discrepancies in those data, for example attacks on payment transactions. They can also improve the accuracy of risk assessments.
Start of a new development
“The name DisQover was chosen for a reason,” explains Shairesh Algoe of ABN AMRO’s Quantum Business and Security Development. “We’re at the start of an entirely new development, one that requires discovery across a broad spectrum. DisQover will seek to accelerate the development and practical use of quantum algorithms by offering generic building blocks in the shape of reusable components for algorithms. That’s what this partnership is all about: experimenting and venturing off the beaten track now, so we’ll be prepared further down the road for the opportunities and threats that quantum technology poses.”
For both parties, the partnership will mean expanding their areas of research. “QuSoft possesses the understanding of quantum algorithms to link new and future challenges that organisations face to the computers of tomorrow,” explains QuSoft director Harry Buhrman. “DisQover will explore how to turn quantum algorithms into practical applications and make them available to a wide public as quickly as possible.”
The technology offers potential in other areas besides the financial sector. “For example customising medical treatments to vastly improve their effectiveness. That involves processing huge amounts of DNA and molecular data. But there are also numerous economic and environmental possibilities, such as logistics solutions for optimum efficiency when supplying brick-and-mortar shops, or creating a perfect timetable for public transport that offers the right capacity at any given moment.”
Usable quantum computers are still a long way off. To test new ideas, the researchers at DisQover will use what are known as ‘hybrid’ computers, combining the processing capabilities and storage capacity of existing supercomputers with the computing power of quantum computers. Another route that the researchers will explore is using quantum simulators to give an indication of how new quantum algorithms can match furture quantum hardware.
Quantum software at QuSoft
QuSoft is the Dutch research center for quantum software. Its mission is to develop new protocols, algorithms and applications that can be run on small and medium-sized prototypes of a quantum computer. The main focus of the center is on the development of quantum software, which requires fundamentally different techniques and approaches from conventional software. QuSoft was launched by CWI, University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and builds on these institutions’ excellent track record in quantum computing and quantum information.