Air Force Research Lab, IBM to Explore Quantum IT

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The Air Force Research Laboratory has joined a first-of-its kind Pentagon partnership that seeks to leverage quantum information science to solve Air Force challenges. 

AFRL announced July 9 it has become a part of the IBM Q Network, which will provide AFRL and its collaborators with access to commercial quantum systems to explore practical applications relevant to the Air Force. 

AFRL said it will work with IBM and others to explore how hardware could hold a “quantum advantage” over traditional computing. Early applications include optimization problems, speed-up of machine learning algorithms and quantum chemistry simulation.

Under the agreement, Defense Department researchers servicewide will be able to use IBM’s quantum computer, according to Col. Timothy Lawrence, director of AFRLs Information Directorate.

“It is sometimes said that explaining quantum computing to someone is like trying to teach them to swim in a pool without water,” said Paul Alsing, principal physicist and an AFRL fellow, in a release. “The IBM quantum computer is that body of water that will allow AFRL-IBM Hub researchers to swim about and explore pathfinder problems that will demonstrate a quantum advantage over conventional computers, and realize the promise of quantum computation that to date has only been theorized.” 

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