Quantum circuits automation gains attention and funding

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Twenty years ago, quantum computing was predicted to be the next big thing in IT. Although it’s not as widespread yet as was predicted, billions of dollars are invested in quantum computing’s potential each year. 

Quantum computing applies the principles of quantum mechanics to perform calculations. It uses subatomic quantum bits called qubits that can have both of the digital 1 and 0 values at the same time. The use of these particles that can exist in multiple states allows for computing to be done much faster, using far less energy than conventional computers. 

For example, NASA scientists and Google created a quantum computer in 2016 that was a shocking 100 million times faster than a conventional computer. 

While the hardware development for building the ultra-fast quantum computers is led by the traditional technology giants (IBM, Quantum Computing, Google, Xanadu, Microsoft, D-Wave Systems), other companies are focused on developing the software to run on them. Customers at this time for this type of extreme computing power are mainly governments and research centers, but many in the industry are banking that the genre will ultimately find a comfortable place among mainstream users in the future.

New circuit-design platform gaining attention

One of those startups already attracting attention is Classiq, provider of a platform for quantum algorithm design that automates the creation of quantum circuits. The company last week announced that it raised $33 million in a series B round, bringing the company’s total funding to $48 million. The company reports that the funding will be put toward further development of its algorithm design platform, which may be the closest thing yet to no/low-code development for quantum computing — if such a thing were possible.

In November, Classiq released new capabilities for its circuit-design product. These new capabilities enable users to extend platform capabilities with unique intellectual property and custom functional templates, and  integrate those with a set of other ready-to-use functionalities. The company claims that users of this platform and its latest features can complete quantum computing projects more quickly and develop and package unique quantum IP for future use.

Cofounder and head of algorithms at Classiq, Amir Naveh, demonstrated in a YouTube video why it’s difficult to build quantum circuits with current tools and also how quantum application development can help solve real-world problems. Some quantum applications expected to be coming online in the future include new drug discovery, advanced genomics, problem-solving in the financial world, and environmental research projects.

“Writing quantum software is hard, but we’ve made it far easier to design, debug and maintain sophisticated circuits,” Classiq cofounder and CEO Nir Minerbi said in a media advisory. “We are proud to showcase the results of our team’s years of work that led to this breakthrough, allowing companies to design circuits that were previously impossible to create.”

Rather than expressing quantum circuits using a series of gate-level or building-block connections, algorithm designers skip that whole step and use the Classiq platform to write functional models, similar to the successful approach used today in designing sophisticated computer chips. The Classiq Quantum Algorithm Design platform then examines the enormous implementation space to find an outcome that fits resource considerations, designer-supplied constraints, and the target hardware platform, Minerbi said. 

Functionality on standardized models

The new software release makes it easy for users to add their own enterprise functionality on top of Classiq’s extensive set of existing functional models, while simultaneously using the circuit synthesis and optimization capabilities of the Classiq platform. So, instead of writing programs from scratch, Classiq users can now use functional models and knowledge bases created by internal domain experts, external providers, or Classiq itself, Minerbi said. 

Unheard of in quantum circles until late, third-parties can create add-on packages for the Classiq platform and use them to market their own quantum expertise. This functionality could also give rise to a public repository to enable functional model sharing, the company said. 

Classiq is positioned to deliver these capabilities due to its growing patent portfolio and the quantum know-how of the Classiq team, bringing together world-renowned experts in quantum information science, computer-aided design, and software engineering.

New investors in the company include, the Hewlett Packard Pathfinder, the venture capital program of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Phoenix Spike Ventures, and Samsung NEXT. 

“We were impressed by Classiq’s novel synthesis engine that automates the creation of quantum circuits and leads to significantly lower barriers of entry for quantum computing,” said Paul Glaser, corporate vice president atHPE and global head of Pathfinder. This funding round also included personal investments from Lip-Bu Tan and  Harvey Jones, joining other existing investment firms Wing VC, Team8, Entrée Capital, Sumitomo Corp. (through IN Venture), and OurCrowd.

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