QuaST — quantum-enabling services and tools for industrial applications

Safe and reliable quantum applications

Solutions based on quantum computing (QC) can make a significant contribution to the advancement of industrial optimization problems, saving time and money. However, QC-supported solutions are not yet available for mainstream industrial users. This is not only due to the limits of quantum computing hardware, but also because in-depth knowledge of physics and computer science is required in order to program today’s quantum computers. There is a general lack of low-threshold access to QC-supported solutions for end users. This is something that the project entitled QuaST — quantum-enabling services and tools for industrial applications — intends to change.

Easy access to quantum computing for companies

The aim of the QuaST project is to provide low-threshold access to quantum computers for companies of all sizes. Industrial end users will only need to have minimal knowledge of QC hardware and software to automatically receive easily accessible and reliable QC-supported solutions for their application problems. The project members are focusing on researching different development tools and application libraries so that users can formulate problems in the programming language that they are used to. This is modeled on the success of artificial intelligence, which can be largely attributed to the easy, widespread availability enabled by software libraries and development tools.

With the aim of opening up quantum computing for industrial users in the same way, the QuaST project — which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action — brings together expertise from several Fraunhofer institutes, the Department of Informatics at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ), the hardware/software co-design expert IQM, the QC operating system expert ParityQC and the application partners Infineon and DATEV. The project is headed up by the Fraunhofer Institute for Cognitive Systems IKS.

In order to guarantee that the proposed solutions can be applied to different optimization problems, the project is working on a number of problems faced by the application partners and other associated partners in fields such as semiconductor production and logistics as well as the optimization of business processes.

Hybrid quantum algorithms dovetail classic computing and quantum computing

The project as a whole is focusing on hybrid quantum algorithms as they are the most promising solution for the early application of quantum computing. This approach requires hand-in-hand cooperation between classic computing and quantum computing.

To make sure that this cooperation is effective, the QuaST project is working on deconstructing the optimization problems automatically according to the divide and conquer principle. With this approach, the problem is automatically deconstructed into parts that can be resolved using classic computing, high-performance computing or quantum computing.

The parts that require quantum computing are then further divided into smaller quantum circuits via a Quantum Divide and Compute strategy in order to make the best possible use of the NISQ (noisy intermediate-scale quantum technology) hardware currently available. This makes it possible to achieve significant performance improvements despite the current hardware limitations.

At the same time, the project is also developing tools and methods for realistic performance measurement and analysis, thus making it easier to determine the application-specific advantages for industrial optimization problems. Another important aspect of the project is an evaluation and verification process for quantum computing software, which allows QC algorithms to be used reliably.

Open-source software tools for the flexible use of quantum computing

The QuaST project is developing various software tools and high-level application libraries to ensure that its results can be utilized on a long-term basis. These highly specialized components will then be licensed or integrated into open-source software tools, allowing the solutions to be used flexibly and employed in ecosystems for different quantum computing hardware technologies.

Furthermore, the consortium partners are involved in developing standards, particularly with regard to the interlinking of high-performance computing (HPC) and quantum computing. Standardizing interfaces to existing HPC workflows, for example, would be a way of integrating quantum computing in a portable manner, while suitable programming standards would also make hybrid program development easier.

In addition, the QuaST project offers training and online seminars for new users with the aim of helping SMEs in particular to overcome their inhibitions with regard to using quantum computing. Right from the beginning of the project, there has been continuous communication between software development and application. This has given the project partners valuable information about the care and support that users need — insights that are now being compiled in a Best Practice Guide.

Support Logo of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action

This project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) based on a resolution of the German Bundestag.