EPiQC: Enabling Practical-scale Quantum Computation
Quantum computing sits poised at the verge of a revolution. Quantum machines may soon be capable of performing calculations in chemistry, physics, and other fields that are extremely difficult or even impossible for today’s computers. The multi-institutional Enabling Practical-scale Quantum Computing (EPiQC) Expedition will help bring the great potential of this new paradigm into reality by reducing the current gap between existing theoretical algorithms and practical quantum computing architectures. Over five years, the EPiQC Expedition will collectively develop new algorithms, software, and machine designs tailored to key properties of quantum device technologies with 100 to 1000 quantum bits. This work will facilitate profound new scientific discoveries and also broadly impact the state of high-performance computing.
Quantum computing could substantially improve accelerate the ability to solve problems in quantum chemistry, quantum simulation, and optimization. Each additional quantum bit doubles the potential computing power of a machine, accumulating exponential gains that could eventually eclipse the world’s largest supercomputers. These new capabilities could lead to better drug discovery, more efficient photovoltaics, new nanoscale materials, and perhaps even more efficient food production. Quantum computing will also drive a new segment of the computing industry, providing new strategies for specific applications that increase computational power even as physical limits slow improvements in classical silicon-chip technology.
To prepare the U.S. workforce for this revolution in computing, we need to educate citizens to think about computing from a quantum perspective, integrating concepts such as probability and uncertainty into the digital lexicon. EPiQC will design teaching curricula and distribute exemplar materials for students ranging from primary school to engineers in industry. EPiQC will also establish an academic-industry consortium which will share educational and research products and accelerate the pace of quantum computing design and applications.
Because quantum computing is a new branch of computer science, it will require entirely new types of algorithms and software. But in order to produce practical quantum computation in the near future, these elements cannot be developed in isolation. Instead, researchers must increase the efficiency of quantum algorithms running on quantum machines through the simultaneous design and optimization of algorithms, software and machines. New algorithms and software need to know what specific machine operations are easy or difficult in a given quantum technology and must be prepared to produce useful answers from imperfect results from imperfect machines. Software also needs to verify that the computation executed correctly as expected, an especially difficult task given that conventional machines cannot simulate even a modest-size quantum machine. EPiQC unites experts on algorithms, software, architecture, and education to develop these elements in parallel. Overall, EPiQC will increase the efficiency of practical quantum computations by 100 to 1000 times, effectively bringing quantum computing out of the laboratory and into practical use 10-20 years sooner than through technology advances alone.