USC will lead the effort in building and testing 100 qubit quantum machines which are 10,000 times faster than classical computers. (Illustration/iStock)


USC to lead project to build super-speedy quantum computers

The goal: machines that are at least 10,000 times faster than the best traditional computers

June 23, 2017 USC Viterbi staff

USC has been selected to lead a consortium of universities and private companies to build quantum computers that are at least 10,000 times faster than the best state-of-the-art classical computers.

USC will lead the effort among various universities and private contractors to design, build and test 100 qubit quantum machines. Such high-powered machines could help facilitate the solution of some of the most difficult optimization problems such as machine learning for image recognition, resolving scheduling conflicts in events with many participants, as well as sampling for improved prediction of random events. Pending continued success, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) contract is worth up to $45 million in funding.

The effort includes the USC Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and the Center for Quantum Computing at the Information Sciences Institute, a unit of the Viterbi School. Quantum computing expert Daniel Lidar, director of the USC Center for Quantum Information Science & Technology and the Viterbi Professor of Engineering, will serve as the principal investigator of the multi-institutional effort and Professor Stephen Crago of the Information Sciences Institute will serve as the program/technical manager.

This project has the potential to reshape the landscape of quantum computing.

Daniel Lidar

“This project has the potential to reshape the landscape of quantum computing, and I could not have asked for a better team to pursue this exciting goal,” Lidar said.

Prem Natarajan, the Michael Keston Executive Director of the Information Sciences Institute, said IARPA’s Quantum Enhanced Optimization program “promises to propel the U.S. into a clear leadership position in the worldwide race to develop a quantum computer at scale.”

Other institutions participating in the five-year research initiative are: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Caltech; Harvard University; University of California, Berkeley; University College London; University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; Saarland University, Saarland, Germany; Tokyo Institute of Technology; Lockheed Martin; and Northrop Grumman. MIT Lincoln Labs will provide government furnished capability, while NASA Ames and Texas A&M University will serve as government test and evaluation teams.