Design Engineering

UWaterloo develops quantum computer benchmark

By DE Staff   


Cycle benchmarking method helps researchers fairly assess value of competing quantum processors.

The Institute of Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo.
(Photo credit: University of Waterloo)

Researchers at the University of Waterloo announced the development of a benchmark method by which one quantum computer can be compared against another. Called cycle benchmarking, the process also allows researchers to assess which quantum processor architectures are worth scaling up and which are too error prone to develop.

“This finding could go a long way toward establishing standards for performance and strengthen the effort to build a large-scale, practical quantum computer,” said Joel Wallman, an assistant professor at Waterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics and Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC). “A consistent method for characterizing and correcting the errors in quantum systems provides standardization for the way a quantum processor is assessed, allowing progress in different architectures to be fairly compared.”

While quantum computers are a fundamentally more powerful than digital computers, they are also more fragile due to their complexity. Any imperfection or “noise” in the system can cause errors that lead to incorrect solutions. What’s more, since traditional computers aren’t able to validate a quantum computer’s solution, users are left blindly trusting the output.

According to the UWaterloo researchers, their cycle benchmarking method addresses this uncertainty in that it can be tailored to any quantum computing application so that users can assess the probability of error in the solution across platforms and thereby compare the capabilities of various quantum processors.


“We are excited because cycle benchmarking provides a much-needed solution for improving and validating quantum computing solutions in this new era of quantum discovery,” said Joseph Emerson, a faculty member at IQC.

Emerson and Wallman are co-founders of Quantum Benchmark Inc., an IQC spin-off company that has licensed the technology to several quantum computing providers, including Google’s Quantum AI effort.


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