(BusinessWire) NTT Research, Inc. has announced that it has entered into a joint research agreement with Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) to develop applications for the Coherent Ising Machine (CIM). The two targeted applications for the CIM, an information processing platform based on quantum oscillator networks, are compressed sensing and drug discovery, both of which require extremely high levels of processing on existing computers. Two agreements, signed in 2020, call for collaboration between NTT Research’s Physics & Informatics (PHI) Lab and independent research groups in Tokyo Tech’s School of Computing, directed by Drs. Yukata Akiyama and Toru Aonishi. NTT Research will lead the five-year project, which will involve approximately ten researchers working in Tokyo and Sunnyvale.

The CIM approach to quantum computing is hardly new. In recent years, work to implement CIMs with optical technology has ramped up significantly. Jack Russell of HPCWire explains, “While most of the attention on quantum computing currently tracks gate-based approaches, there has also been steady progress with Coherent Ising Machine (CIM) systems, which are essentially analog systems that seek to leverage quantum effects. It is the approach D-Wave uses. However, unlike the semiconductor-based superconducting technology that D-Wave employs, other technologies including optical approaches to CIM are possible and also rapidly developing.”

“The near-term goals in this joint research include formulating the essential part of the intensive computation required for a CIM to screen drug candidate compounds via combining their functional fragments and developing a CIM-based L0 norm reconstruction algorithm of distorted images. (The L0 norm relates to non-zero elements in a matrix.) Broader expectations are to demonstrate the advantages of a CIM and its related technology in addressing real-world problems and to explore new ways of computing,” according to NTT Research.

(For a visual representation of how a CIM solves a combinatorial optimization problem, see this video from the MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory.)

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