From May 4 to May 8, we invited people from around the world to participate in the IBM Quantum Challenge on the IBM Cloud. We devised the Challenge as a global event to celebrate our fourth anniversary of having a real quantum computer on the cloud.
And participate they did! Over those four days 1,745 people from 45 countries came together to solve four problems ranging from introductory topics in quantum computing, to understanding how to mitigate noise in a real system, to learning about historic work in quantum cryptography, to seeing how close they could come to the best optimization result for a quantum circuit. This last one was tough, but 574 people completed all four exercises correctly.
Who took part? Among the problem solvers we had students, technologists, teachers, professors, lawyers, software engineers, consultants, interns, data scientists, AI engineers, computer scientists, physicists, mathematicians, and … well, the list goes on and on. Those working in the Challenge joined all those who regularly make use of the 18 quantum computing systems that IBM has on the cloud, including the 10 open systems and the advanced machines available within the IBM Q Network.
But back to the numbers. During the 96 hours of the Challenge, the total use of the 18 IBM Quantum systems on the IBM Cloud exceeded 1 billion circuits a day. Together, we made history — every day the cloud users of the IBM Quantum systems made and then extended what can absolutely be called a world record in computing. Thank you.
So, in the end, what did we show?
First, many, many people have become well educated in the practice of coding for quantum computers. Whether it was through watching Qiskit videos on YouTube, working through the online Qiskit textbook, learning in a classroom, or through teaching themselves, they demonstrated that we are well beyond the early days of quantum computing on real hardware. Thousands of people now understand that a circuit is the basic unit of work for quantum computing systems.
Second, the extraordinary capacity to support over a billion circuits a day demonstrates that IBM systems can provide what enterprises, governments, universities, and other organizations need today to experiment and get on track to eventually applying quantum computing to their real world use cases.
Finally, and this may not be visible to many outside the company, we are hardening our quantum and cloud infrastructure through the use of it by IBM Q Network members, the IBM Quantum Challenge, and daily users of the IBM Quantum Experience. As we together work toward Quantum Advantage, our systems will grow and evolve to support your needs.
Every day we extend the science of quantum computing and advance engineering to build more powerful devices and systems. We’ve put new two new systems on the cloud in the last month, and so our fleet of quantum systems on the cloud is getting bigger and better. We’ll be extending this cloud infrastructure later this year by installing quantum systems in Germany and in Japan. We’ve also gone more and more digital with our users with videos, online education, social media, Slack community discussions, and, of course, the Challenge.
Again, thank you to everyone who took part in the Challenge! We’re gratified that you used words and phrases like “educational,” “skills development,” and even “fun” when you talked about your experience on Twitter and LinkedIn. We’re now in the fifth year of IBM Quantum on the cloud. Join our community as we extend and broaden all parts of our program. Also send us ideas for next year’s Challenge!
Scientists at Mitsubishi Chemical, a member of the IBM Q Hub at Keio University in Japan, reached out to our team about experimenting with new approaches to error mitigation and novel quantum algorithms to address these very challenges. In the new arXiv preprint, “Applications of Quantum Computing for Investigations of Electronic Transitions in Phenylsulfonyl-carbazole TADF Emitters,” we – along with collaborators at Keio University and JSR - describe quantum computations of the “excited states,” or high energy states, of industrial chemical compounds that could potentially be used in the fabrication of efficient organic light emitting diode (OLED) devices.