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Quantum-algorithm superstore in the works

Written by NTN staff
18/05/18

Quantum computers need sophisticated and specialised quantum algorithms to work, which a company hopes to be able to provide to others for wider use.

A start-up called Zapata Computing, which launched this week with $5.4 million in funding, aims to become a quantum-algorithm superstore, offering a broad range of ready-made software that companies can use to tap the immense processing power quantum computers promise to deliver.

A report in the MIT Technology Review says founder Alán Aspuru-Guzik, a Harvard University professor known in academic circles for developing these kinds of algorithms, Zapata wants companies to be able to use the technology without needing an in-house quantum specialist.

Zapata plans to focus mainly on algorithms for chemistry and materials at first. Zapata CEO Chris Savoie and Aspuru-Guzik have already been working with big quantum hardware makers like IBM and Google, as well as with smaller ones like Rigetti Computing and IonQ, who have also been working on their own algorithms.

The field of quantum computing is so new, it says, that only a small number of experts – less than a hundred - today can create advanced software that will work on the machines. It is thought quantum algorithms can help overcome some of the hurdles of quantum computers, which instead of digital bits (which represent either 1 or 0) they use ‘qubits’, which can be in both states at once thanks to a phenomenon known as superposition.