Inside Quantum Technology

DARPA announces contracts to Raytheon BBN & to USC for Quantum Benchmarking Program.

(MilitaryAerospace) Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., announced contracts in February to Raytheon BBN in Cambridge, Mass., and to the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles for the Quantum Benchmarking program.
DARPA is asking Raytheon BBN and USC to determine if industry could design application-specific and hardware-agnostic benchmarks to test the utility of and best applications for quantum computers, as well as estimate the hardware resources necessary for quantum computing operations.
Raytheon BBN won a $2.9 million contract on 24 Feb. 2022, and USC won a $4.1 million contract on 23 Feb. 2022 for the DARPA Quantum Benchmarking program.
What today’s computer scientists don’t know is what size, quality, and configuration of quantum computer would enable kinds of advances that military systems integrators will need in the future.
Still to be answered are questions like what applications could benefit most from quantum computing, and at what kind of scaling; how can systems integrators understand the new core computational capability of quantum computing; and what kind of metrics and testing procedures do scientists need for quantifying progress towards quantum computing capabilities.
That’s where the DARPA Quantum Benchmarking project comes in. The project seeks to distil benchmarks for quantum utility to be useful for specific applications at specific scales — especially using the kinds of metrics that suitable for driving research and development.
The Quantum Benchmarking contractors will create new benchmarks that quantitatively measure progress towards specific computational challenges. In parallel, the program seeks estimate the computer hardware necessary to measure benchmark performance. The project’s benchmarks will be hardware-agnostic for problems where quantum approaches most likely will be needed.
The Quantum Benchmarking contractors will quantify the long-term utility of quantum computers by solving some hard problems from a list of application in a variety of military domains, and grouping these application by common enabling capabilities.

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