Quantum computing, Qubit, Computing, Quantum mechanics 1476: Honeywell Quantum Solutions Deliver Quantum Computer
Everyone can understand here is your host neil c hughes. Welcome back once again to the tech talk daily podcast, i am conscious. I throw a different interview into your podcast feed every single day. So the fact that you’ve tuned in once again means more to me than you could possibly know so a big thank you for joining me now, as i look to invite guests onto this podcast that are leading the way i came across an announcement that honeywell a Company best known for making control systems for homes, businesses and planes, they reported that they had built the most powerful quantum computer ever and the article talked about how honeywell measured its computer’s capabilities using metric, invented by ibm called quantum volume. And on hearing that i found myself channeling my inner doc brown going great scots, but seriously quantum computing will undoubtedly will revolutionize the way that we work, but it always felt to me, like quantum computing, was always on the horizon. But after spending more than a decade focused on ways to not only help architect, this massive expansion of computational power and problem solving, but after spending more than a decade focused on ways to not only help architect. This massive expansion of computational power and problem solving but accelerate it too honeywell are making big headlines today, not tomorrow. So after hearing how honeywell released their next generation of quantum computer and are collaborating with accenture on cutting edge quantum applications, i invited them onto the show to discuss their latest announcement and explore some of those quantum computing trends that we can expect here in 2021.
But enough for me buckle up and hold on tight, so i can beam your ears all the way stateside, so i can introduce you to today’s guest. So a massive warm welcome to the show. Can you tell the listeners a little about who you are and what you do yeah? So my name is uh brian ninehouse i’m, a scientist at uh honeywell, quantum solutions, uh based here in in colorado in the united states, um and and i’m in charge of leading the commercial operations group here. So we operate troubleshoot and upgrade our commercial quantum computers uh, which is really fun to say because just a year ago there we didn’t have any uh, so it’s been it’s, really been a real fun ride to set up these computers and start working with our customers And and see some real value come out of them. Excellent and a lot of people listening will have their own perception of what honeywell is and what you do. But before we do begin, can i see you set the scene and just tell the listeners a little bit more about the kind of problems that you traditionally sold for businesses with technology at honeywell, yeah, so honey honeywell is just an absolutely massive company. I don’t think i understood half of half of what we did before before i joined uh joined up to do this quantum computing stuff, but uh. You know they’re involved in all sorts of industries, doing control problems, chemistry, uh safety, solutions working with with buildings to become more efficient, so honeywell’s all across uh.
You know across many different industries and uh. I think that that’s sort of perhaps why quantum computing was a natural fit, is that it also has many ties into uh. All these different things right, a quantum computer i’d say it’s. Its implications are not fully known yet there’s. Still a lot of research going on on what else it could do, but there’s there’s a few dozen uh, maybe upwards, of a hundred uh sort of known quantum algorithms that computer scientists have have proven can can do things better than you can on a classical computer And there’s really famous algorithms, like shore’s algorithm, that factors, numbers or grover’s search algorithm, but there’s. Also things like optimization and especially simulating quantum mechanical systems, which is, which is what chemistry really is right. It’S the world is quantum mechanical and to understand those problems in great detail. You, you can’t just abstract away that quantum mechanical uh detail there and so sort of the solutions we offer uh with a quantum computer dovetail into all these different business areas. That honeywell is already in incredibly exciting work, you’re doing there working with incredibly exciting technology as well, but where does honeywell’s quantum services fit into that big picture that you’ve just painted for us yeah? So we have quantum hardware now, so we actually have a quantum computer where you can run uh these algorithms, which for a long time were just sort of abstract. You know mathematical, uh ideas, uh come up by uh by computer scientists and others, but now we can actually run run those those algorithms on this, this quantum hardware, and so we work directly both with internal customers within honeywell, as well as as external customers to sort Of translate the problems they’re working on into this language of a quantum algorithm and then and then run it on our hardware.
I would say this is still very early days and there’s a lot of learning going on. So this. This collaboration between our team of quantum scientists, uh and the the subject matter, experts at our at our customer sites, uh we’re, working together with that team to sort of figure out how to best map these problems and what to run on the hardware now to inform The research going forward as our systems continue to grow has been a real, a real focus of our of our group. Right now and one of the reasons i invited you on the podcast today, it was after hearing our honeywell recently released the next generation of a quantum computer. So can you tell me a little bit more about that announcement and what it means for your customers right? So, at the end of october uh we released honeywell system model h1, which has 10 qubits right now and a measured quantum volume of 128, but just because that’s, the the specs it launched with it, it won’t it won’t stay uh static. There that’s one of the fun things about trapped, ion, trapdian quantum computers is that the infrastructure is there that we can continue to add more qubits and upgrade the capabilities without throwing the whole machine away and starting over. So throughout the year we’ll see those those specs increase, but i’d say this was a real large jump forward in the capabilities of our quantum computers and allow our customers to run larger algorithms than have ever been ever been possible.
I would say, although there are systems out there with more qubits than ours, they’re all limited by the fidelity so sort of how how often you get the right answer instead of instead of garbage right and so in classical computers. This is something we don’t think of very often the fidelities are so high that you almost always get the right answer and occasionally a cosmic ray will come in and zap one of your transistors and an error will occur, but it’s, very, very rare. On a on a regular computer on a quantum computer that’s, just not the case, these quantum states are so fragile, so really launching a system where you know we can run interactions between two qubits that are 99.5 percent uh accurate or have that 99.5 success rate. The fidelity there, if you will uh, is really important that we can start to run these algorithms and and understand and trust the outputs that come out, and when that announcement have arrived on my news feed back out. They say it was back in october. One of the things that stood out was honeywell’s ongoing collaboration with accenture, especially on cutting edge quantum applications, but for anyone that missed the announcement, could i guess that you expand on that too yeah so accenture was was listed in that announcement as one of uh. Many many partners that that we’re working with uh to sort of build up – i would say the building blocks of these – these uh, these quantum mechanical, uh, algorithms and capabilities of our system.
So one of the really nice things about the system model h1 is because of the architecture we use where we actually physically move our our qubits around have them interact with each other. We can do something which currently nobody else can, which is you can measure a single qubit in the middle of a circuit without destroying all the information in the computer right, and this is absolutely necessary as you move on and do things like quantum error correction, which We needed for large scale quantum computations, but it also gives you a lot of immediate advantages too. Even with these smaller quantum computers like we have we have now and so with accenture, we started to look at with this uh mid circuit measurement. What are some of the unique things we could do and one of the one of the circuits they ran on our computer, that we were working with them was one where they did a a quantum adder circuit. So adding numbers is something we do all the time and take take uh for granted in a classical computer and a quantum computer it’s it’s still not hard, but it is a little different and they were able to show that by using this, this mid circuit measurement. They could do it much more efficiently than you could if you didn’t have that that capability, and so we’ve been working with them and other partners as well to sort of explore all of the uh different advantages uh.
We have because of these. This new feature set and sort of build up this toolbox of of ways you can. You can use the quantum computer to build into larger algorithms that actually have, i would say, economic value later on, and what type of applications can quantum computing be used for and for for anyone that may be outside of the tech industry that’s. Maybe a bit cynical about any overhyped new technologies and maybe they’ve been burnt by ai or something in the past when it wasn’t really ai. What additional value does it actually bring to the business yeah? So i again i’ll say that we don’t know everything. A quantum computer is good at just yet i’d, say there’s still a lot of ongoing research, and i fully expect that we’re going to be surprised by something some new application will come on and quantum mechanics or quantum computers will solve problems. We we had no idea they could, but we do know currently about a lot of a lot of things they’re good at so because the world is quantum mechanical and chemistry is a quantum mechanical process. It’S very easy to see that if you want to develop new molecules or understand chemical processes or material processes, that quantum computing is going to be a good match for that, you can simulate all the quantum mechanical dynamics of the system and don’t have to abstract that Away, one of the problems we see with classical computing is to store all the information you need to describe the quantum state of a molecule uh, just isn’t possible, even with our largest supercomputers.
You quickly get the point where there’s just too much information you need to keep track of, but a quantum computer can can do that. Uh relatively straightforwardly because we’re just mapping one quantum system on to another right, but i would say there’s there’s applications, far beyond discovering quantum systems and looking at chemistry. We also know that quantum computers can be very useful in optimization, optimization problems. So if you’re trying to decide how to pack things into your aircraft or which route your truck should take, i think these are all problems that quantum, a quantum computer, shows great promises being able to deliver speed. Ups beyond what you can do with classical computing i’d. Also say: there’s also applications in the finance industry. Again, a lot of the the problems they’re looking at there look like search problems which there’s known algorithms, that that that speed up searching for information or that look like optimization problems, and so i think, uh the promise. The promise is large and uh it’s sort of exciting to be in these early days, where you know we can work with these different companies to to build these sort of beginning algorithms to explore it with the small hardware that we have now and and map a Path to to get to the point where we’re solving problems that just aren’t solvable on on regular classical computers and i’m curious. Are there any other partnerships or maybe use cases that you could share with the listeners today, just to help them understand how it might work in their world yeah? So i think one one of the the partnerships we listed in in the announcement or shortly after uh was with with dhl so they’re a big logistics company, and i won’t pretend to know everything they do but uh the problem we we engaged with them uh was To figure out some of these optimization issues so how to and the problem we bit off was how to pack uh different sized boxes into a shipping container right, they’re shipping things all across the world if they can do it more efficiently, this can save them fuel And time and ultimately, money, and so they they partnered with another company, cambridge quantum computing and between the three of us, so dhl, cambridge, quantum computing and honeywell quantum solutions.
We we were able to to run an algorithm uh that showed an optimal optimal solution for this. This packing problem now the size of this packing problem was relatively small. It was just a handful of boxes in a very small container, but it was to to show that the the capabilities of the computer and then also to help start to develop that software, which can be scaled as the capabilities of the computer increase. So we see a lot of these collaborations uh, often with with multiple companies working on providing the domain, expertise on here’s what’s important to our business, and then someone like cambridge quantum computing who is focused on you know, writing these algorithms and then being able to then Work with honeywell quantum solutions to apply it to real quantum computing hardware, uh analyze the results and and map out a path forward to to increase sort of the the the algorithm capabilities for for the use case and there’s. Someone that’s working right in the heart of the industry. Where do you see quantum computing heading in 2021 and beyond, and is there anything that particularly excites you, oh, i think it’s such an exciting place to be at you know i i’ve read. You know histories of uh, regular computing. You know when the transistor is first invented and then just how fast everything sort of exploded. Once we have these solid state, transistors and – and it feels like we’re at that same place right now, with quantum computing right, we’ve we’ve got the first computers.
We have some basic ideas of of what they’re good at and the hardware capabilities are just expanding very rapidly. So the honeywell quantum solutions over the next year, we’re going to see our fidelities increase, the number of qubits increase, uh we’re, going to be launching more systems, so we’ll have more capability to to run with with more customers um, and so i think, there’s there’s. A lot of uh excitement just on our our hardware capabilities, but i think the thing that excites me the most about uh this this next this next year, is that we’re we’re getting more and more people to use our quantum hardware and as they do so more Ideas are entering the field right. I feel like, although there’s a lot of wonderful work that went on trying to program computers before they even existed, you can think of people like alan turing or charles babbage, who theorized about how a computer would work it wasn’t until we had one that people really Started to explore their full capability and and that’s what we’re, seeing right now in quantum computing is as well is that as we have customers from the finance industry from the materials industry from you know, all these different places using our quantum computers, they’re discovering new things That they can do with them new tricks and techniques, to sort of squeeze more performance out and so we’re, really seeing that the capabilities of our computer are growing.
As we add more hardware capabilities, you know increasing the fidelity adding more cubits. All of that, but i’d say they might be growing even faster, as as our users uh gain experience and figure out how to squeeze more performance out of them. It’S been so fun to work with with our customers and see the inventive things they come up with. Uh to really take advantage of the features we have so it’s. If you build it, they will come and we’re seeing a lot of just wonderful uh. You know creative solutions coming up uh to take advantage of the hardware and things things i don’t know. I could have predicted. I love that and i’ve loved chatting with you today before i do, let you go for anyone listening. That would like to find out more information about the work that you’re doing was what’s the best way of finding that information online and also contacting your team. If there are any decision makers or techies wanting to ask them any questions about the kind of capabilities that you can offer yeah, so you can always just go to honeywell.com and navigate there to the honeywell quantum solutions page. But perhaps even the easiest is just google honeywell quantum solutions uh and that that first link will pop right up to be to be us and there’s contact information on that page. There excellent, i think, what’s so exciting here, is that possibilities of quantum computing are endless and we don’t yet fully realize or know how far we’re going to go with it and we’re just learning about those kind of capabilities that we can have and it’s almost like.
We’Re exploring the art of the possible in real time, and i find that incredibly exciting. So a big thank you for taking the time to sit down and share that with me today. Yeah, thank you it’s a pleasure to be here incredibly cool isn’t it hearing about a quantum computer from honeywell and all the stuff that they’re doing today, not tomorrow growing up. I only dreamt of this stuff, so i find it incredibly cool hearing about real world use cases and how it’s being used by companies such as dhl and and how accenture are using it for applications too. So a big thank you to brian for sharing honeywell’s progress in quantum computing last year, where he sees it heading this year and the types of applications quantum computing can be used useful and if we do have any quantum experts out there or anyone who has some Great use cases examples insights on how this technology will be used in the future. You know where to find me: my email address is techblogwriter at outlook.com. My website is techblogwriter.co.uk linkedin and twitter at neil c hughes. If you do follow or connect, please send me a quick message, so i know that you listen to the podcast because it’s not about inflating follower accounts. I genuinely want to have a little chat with you all, but that’s it for today. So a big thank you for listening. I’Ll speak with you all again tomorrow, but if you don’t make it until next time, don’t be a stranger.
Thank you for listening to the tech talks daily podcast with neil c hughes.