(SpectrumIEEE) D-Wave Systems has offered free cloud computing time on its quantum computer to COVID-19 researchers. Alan Baratz, CEO of D-Wave, said the initial response to their offer has come from teams tackling a range of coronavirus-related problems.
“We’ve seen problems being explored in the following areas: 1) the modeling and simulation of the spread of the virus, 2) the scheduling of nurses and other hospital resources, 3) assessing the rate of virus mutation, and 4) the assessment of existing drugs as potential treatments,”
Masayuki Ohzeki is a co-founder of the Tokyo-based Sigma-i company. They have used D-Wave’s quantum cloud to develop optimum tsunami evacuation routes and to increase the efficiency of automated robotic carts moving materials around within a factory.
Now Ohzeki said his team has begun work on route planning for transporting large numbers of COVID-19 patients to and from a medical facility.
As with the airline example above, the factors determining each individual patient’s transportation—whether it’s due to the condition of the patient or the number of staff available on any given shift—can make the problem complex.
“In this sense, it is important to pay attention to the interaction and come up with a new formulation rather than following an existing textbook framework,” he said. “Sigma-i (likes to explore) how to use the quantum annealer more cleverly.”
Kristel Michielsen is a quantum information processing group leader at the Jülich Supercomputing Center in Germany. She’s part of a team of D-Wave programmers who have offered to provide free consultation to COVID-19 researchers. “The JSC offers its quantum annealing expertise, including the selection of suitable problems and the ‘translation’ of those problems into the language of quantum annealing,” she said.

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