ICHEC gets quantum computing development funding

NUI Galway supercomputer
The Irish sumpercomputer at NUI Galway, 'Kay'. (Image: NUI Galway)

Enterprise Ireland and Intel provide €150,000 for collaborative effort

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5 March 2019 | 0

The Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC) has received funding of €150,000 from Enterprise Ireland and Intel for a new collaborative quantum computing project.

The project aims to produce results on Intel’s software quantum simulator for a problem in natural language processing, in what is claimed to be a first of its kind effort in Ireland, and potentially worldwide.

The centre said it will work on a variety of quantum computing platforms, hardware devices and software simulators, to develop quantum software by leveraging the its domain expertise across a variety of areas.

“With the immediate availability of software quantum simulators and small-scale quantum hardware testbeds, it is essential that we develop the software ecosystem and programming expertise to target quantum platforms,” said Dr Venkatesh Kannan, Novel Technologies Activity lead, ICHEC. “It is crucial to do this simultaneously with ongoing efforts to develop larger-scale, reliable and commercially deployable quantum computers in five to 10 years.”

The new collaboration with Intel will use its software quantum simulator (qHiPSTER) that has been deployed on the Irish national supercomputer “Kay” to conduct research in Natural Language Processing (NLP) to facilitate interactions between computers and human languages.

In particular, the project will focus on an aspect of NLP known as distributional compositional semantics model, which describes how information flows between words in a sentence to determine the sentence’s meaning. These algorithms have been shown to offer significant improvements to the quality of results in NLP, particularly for more complex sentences. However, the main challenge in its implementation is the need for large, classic computational resources, namely supercomputers, which the centre says, is where the potential power of quantum computing comes in.

“This project builds on a long standing technology partnership between Intel and ICHEC,” said Brian Quinn, director research, Intel Labs Europe, “consistently we aspire through this partnership to new knowledge and methods, in this case to determine and demonstrate how an existing quantum algorithm for a specific family of NLP problem can be translated into the Intel Quantum Simulator’s (qHiPSTER) programming paradigm and implemented.”

“This is a significant win for Ireland, as it demonstrates an effective ecosystem that encourages and supports companies, regardless of their stature, to undertake really exciting and novel R&D projects,” said Sufian Al Aswad, centre manager, ICHEC.

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