Quantum computers, the next generation of computing machines that promise to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, have arrived—and Northeastern researchers are hard at work trying to improve these futuristic devices.
They include GRI Faculty Affiliate and assistant professor of electrical & computer engineering, Devesh Tiwari, who recently was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to embark on research to improve the reliability of quantum computers.
Makers of existing quantum computers, which are still largely prototypes, have claimed that their state-of-the-art devices can solve in mere minutes problems that would take traditional supercomputers thousands of years to solve. It is one of the promises of quantum computing, an emerging field, that practitioners claim is verging on big transformations.
“Even if it may not be apparent right now, quantum computing has already taken off,” Tiwari says. “When revolutionary technologies take off, it becomes apparent only in hindsight. When we look back, the last couple decades will certainly be marked as a ‘take-off’ point, when lots of the theoretical promises of quantum computing started to get realized in practice.”
But there is a problem. Current quantum machines, known as “noisy intermediate-scale quantum-era quantum computers,” or NISQ machines, are highly error-prone. As a result, when computational scientists execute their programs on NISQ machines, they receive “noisy outputs”—that is, inaccurate outputs, Tiwari says.