Google and XPRIZE Collaborate on $5M Challenge for Quantum Applications

Google Quantum AI, the XPRIZE Foundation, and the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) Foundation have declared a 3-year, $5 million worldwide competition to create quantum computing (QC) algorithms and applications that can be used to assist in resolving real-world challenges.

Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, the director at Google, and Ryan Babbush, the Head of Quantum Algorithms at Google Quantum AI, have published a post about the launch, “The competition, which commences today, aims to produce quantum computing algorithms that can be applied (today or in the future) to assist in achieving societally beneficial objectives, akin to those outlined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The competition is closely linked with Google Quantum AI’s focus on building a large-scale, corrected quantum computer, and creating valuable quantum computing applications, and it extends Google.org’s backing for employing emerging technology to vast, global dilemmas — particularly as connected to the SDGs.

Without a doubt, the most recent XPRIZE will generate buzz in the expanding quantum technology provider and early user/explorer community. Two years into the competition, XPRIZE will evaluate all whitepaper entries and grant Milestone Prizes ranging from $1 million to up to 20 semi-finalist champions. “Following 36 months, judges will pick the Competition victors: $3 million distributed among up to three Grand Prize Winner(s); $1 million split among two and five Finals Runners-up (at the judgment of the judges; e.g., if two Finals Runners-up chosen then each would obtain $500k).” (Further details from the draft guidelines are below)

XPRIZE organizers point out the existing pitfalls of quantum computing and the necessity for efforts on creating applications — “Presently, quantum computers are not advanced enough to tackle real-world social issues that classical computers cannot. Nonetheless, as the technology progresses, a relatively small number of companies and university researchers are focused on translating quantum algorithms into real-world application scenarios and evaluating their feasibility to address global challenges once sufficiently powerful hardware is accessible.”

That being said, organizers are optimistic: XPRIZE Quantum Applications has the potential to revolutionize how we address some of the largest problems humanity faces  — a testament to XPRIZE’s commitment to groundbreaking and impactful innovation. This award combines XPRIZE’s expertise in designing, initiating, and executing large-scale contests, Google Quantum AI’s extensive knowledge and leadership in advancing quantum computing, and GESDA’s global perspective and aptitude to bring policymakers and experts together to initiate change. Together, our objective is to promote the growth of an ethical and forward-thinking quantum ecosystem.”

Gosselink and Babbush, state, Gosselink and Ryan Babyish, “Although there are many reasons to be enthusiastic about the potential of quantum computing, we are still somewhat in the dark about the entire scope of how, when, and for which real-world issues this technology will demonstrate the greatest transformation. We trust that introducing this prize will help unveil answers to these questions — by encouraging the community to advance and more thoroughly foresee the beneficial impact of quantum computing on society.

“XPRIZE Quantum Applications will address both immediate applications for today’s Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum (NISQ) processors (which do not yet exist), and applications for large scale, fault tolerant quantum computers of the future. While we believe there are valuable applications to be discovered in the NISQ era, the majority of quantum computing’s influence will materialize when we have built large-scale quantum computers — and we can recognize those applications now, so we have them ready to deploy as we construct more capable hardware.”

XPRIZE organizers mention the following instances: improving the drug discovery process by enabling more precise forecasts of how drug candidates interact with proteins in the human body; enhancing the efficiency of simulations of electrical grid loads by refining the way we model inductors and capacitors in differential equations; lessening carbon emissions and enhancing energy efficiency by aiding in better modeling materials and molecules, such as those in batteries or fusion reactors.

In fact, efforts are already underway in all of those domains, such as Atom Computing (neutral atoms-based) collaborating with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab to explore electrical grid management.

Here is a selection from rough guidelines:

“To realize the transformative potential of quantum, it is crucial to enhance the state-of-the-art in quantum algorithms, to scientifically evaluate the advantage that quantum algorithms offer to real-world problems, and to meticulously quantify the quantum hardware requisites needed to realize these advantages. XPRIZE Quantum Applications, graciously supported by Google Quantum AI, seeks to expedite this process through a quantum applications competition tailored towards use cases in sustainability and societal good. Across two competition phases, teams will meld quantum and domain expertise to brainstorm quantum applications that might influence such real-world problems.

“The winning entries will most speed up the field of quantum algorithms towards quantum advantage for favorable real-world applications. To ascertain this, our judging committee will consider several factors including but not limited to:

“A. The anticipated scale of positive real-world impact that would emerge from quantum advantage in the proposed application area(s).

“B. The estimated quantum resources necessary for quantum advantage (i.e., how nearterm?).

“C. The robustness of the proof supporting claims for (A) and (B).

“D. The novelty of the entry (i.e., magnitude of the “thought delta” introduced).

“We anticipate that competitive entries will make at least one of the following types of contributions (we also provide some examples from the last five years; nevertheless, please note that these examples are not indicative of preferred areas of focus):

“1. A new quantum algorithm for addressing a fresh category of problems with quantum advantage. For instance: quartic quantum speedup for tensor principal component analysis (arXiv:1907.12724). The submission would be incomplete without proposing a target real-world application and submission would be substantiated with some estimated resources for quantum advantage. Nonetheless, notable credit for novelty.

“2. Efforts illustrating how existing quantum algorithms can be utilized to tackle previously undisclosed applications with a quantum advantage. Example 1: employing quantum linear system solvers or Hamiltonian simulation to deliver super-quadratic speedup in simulating classical waves (arXiv:1711.05394) or coupled harmonic systems (arXiv:2303.13012). Submissions would be fortified with some estimated resources for quantum advantage in real-world applications. Example 2: utilizing quantum simulation to enhance the design of fusion reactors (arXiv:2308.12352). An area of weakness is that quantum simulation applications are not overly difficult to identify and resources necessary for advantage are still relatively high.

“3. Endeavors notably reducing the resources essential for a quantum computer to attain quantum advantage for an already established algorithm/application. Example 1: bettering chemistry algorithms (arXiv:2011.03494) with application to simulating the FeMoCo nitrogen fixation catalyst. The submission would be enhanced if the degree of the resource reduction and thought delta were larger. Example 2: improved algorithms for topological data analysis (arXiv:2209.13581 and arXiv:2209.12887). A significant flaw is that neither report identifies real-world instances of the dilemma where quantum advantage is plausible.”

As per the preliminary guidelines, the $5M prize fund will be allocated as follows:

“After 24 months of competition, the judges will review all whitepaper submissions and equally distribute Milestone Prizes from $1 million to up to 20 semi-finalist victors. At the discretion of the judges, these awards may be granted on a conditional basis, contingent on the team’s exhibited dedication to developing and progressing their solutions and to vying for the Grand Prize. Teams that do not garner or do not contend for Milestone Prizes may still be eligible to compete for the Grand Prizes, at the discretion of the judges.

“After 36 months, judges will pick the Competition victors:

  • 3 million shared among up to three Grand Prize Winner(s)
  • $1 million divided among two and five Finals Runner-ups (at the discretion of the judges; e.g., if two Finals Runner-ups chosen then each would receive$ $500k).”

Link to XPRIZE Quantum, https://www.xprize.org/prizes/qc-apps

Link to preliminary guidelines, https://assets-us-01.kc-usercontent.com/5cb25086-82d2-4c89-94f0-8450813a0fd3/be438f12-70ca-42e6-a381-30ffb52031c2/XPRIZE%20Quantum%20Applications%20Preliminary%20Guidelines_V.01.pdf

Link to Google blog, https://blog.google/technology/research/google-gesda-and-xprize-launch-new-competition-in-quantum-applications/

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