Google Partners With Zapata on Open-Source Quantum Computing Effort

Zapata Computing, a Harvard University spinout developing software to enable quantum computers, said Wednesday it’s working with Google to advance quantum computing technologies. Zapata said it’s one of the first users of Cirq, Google’s new open-source software framework for quantum computing.

The initiative is yet another example of the growing investment in quantum computing research and development by startups and big tech companies, such as IBM, another Zapata partner. Advocates believe quantum computers, which process information using principles of quantum mechanics, could greatly improve upon the data-crunching capabilities of today’s most powerful machines. Quantum computing, they say, might lead to breakthroughs in fields such as materials science, and help solve business problems in sectors like financial services and car manufacturing.

Cirq appears to signal part of Google’s vision for its cloud computing business. The software tools allow outside programmers to run algorithms on Google’s quantum computing simulator, and Cirq is intended to eventually serve as the software interface for Google’s planned quantum computing cloud services, according to a press release from QC Ware, a Palo Alto, CA-based company that is another early Cirq user. QC Ware is working on quantum computing algorithms for businesses.

Another company collaborating with Google on Cirq is Quantum Benchmark, a Canadian startup spun out of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. Quantum Benchmark’s software tools aim to “improve and quantify the widely variable performance capabilities” of today’s quantum hardware, according to a press release.

Meanwhile, Zapata said it has developed a new machine learning algorithm intended to help build more efficient quantum computing circuits. The Cambridge, MA-based startup said Google is using the algorithm in its quantum computing development efforts.

Zapata was formed last year by a group of Harvard scientists, including Alán Aspuru-Guzik, a professor who is leaving for the University of Toronto this summer. Zapata has raised $5.4 million from The Engine, Pillar Companies, FF Science, and Prelude Ventures.

[Pictured above is the IBM Q quantum computing center. Photo credit: Connie Zhou. Downloaded from IBM’s media gallery.]

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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