Amazon has signed an agreement for a collaborative research project on quantum computing hardware with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "Globes" has been informed by sources at the Hebrew University. This is the first time that Amazon has undertaken research to develop quantum computing with an academic institution in Israel.
Quantum computers are believed to be able to solve computational problems, such as integer factorization, which underlies RSA encryption, much faster than standard computers.
The race to build the strongest quantum computers is at its peak and the tech giants are all eager to develop the best computers or systems that connect with them for use by governments and very large organizations. Amazon plans being able to sell access to quantum computers, in the same way as it sells access to the cloud through its data centers.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has already chosen the key personnel to lead the collaboration with the Hebrew University. The theoretical analysis team will be led by Prof. Alex Retzker of the Hebrew University's Racah Physics Institute as AWS Chief Scientific Researcher. The project will include Hebrew University physics students who will strive to accelerate development of hardware and algorithms for quantum computing. Prof. Retzker has traveled to Amazon's offices in the US to get the project underway.
Prof.Retzker said, "We are at a unique moment in the history of science. A moment in which abstract theoretical concepts may develop rapidly and become practical technologies accessible through cloud services on demand and this may hugely influence human society over the years. It is a great privilege to be part of this process."
About a decade ago the Hebrew University's Faculty of Physics began to promote the field of quantum computing as a central field which justified major investment of resources. In 2011, the Hebrew University established the Quantum Information Science Center (QISC) headed by Prof. Nadav Katz of the Racah Institute of Physics.
Prof. Katz told "Globes, "This cooperation, on this scale, is something in a different league. Prof. Retzker has been appointed as one of the heads of the project and his work and the group's work does not exist in the industry at present - and that is the ability to analyze quantum resources and improve performance at the highest level."
Other Hebrew University academics involved in the project include Prof. Elon Lindenstrauss of the Einstein Institute of Mathematics, the first-ever Israeli to be awarded the prestigious Fields Medal in mathematics, and Israel prize winner in the exact sciences Prof. Raphael Levine of the Institure of Chemistry.
Prof. Katz added, "Our aim is to promote entrepreneurship, as well as basic research, in the field of quantum technology and the work of prof. Retzker and his students in the AWS Center for Quantum Computing is a wonderful example of the cooperation that will happen in this area. This field has been focused on by the Hebrew University since the 1990s with researchers from all disciplines involved in this and over the years we have recruited excellent people. In 2011, we understood that we need a more formal forum and we set up the Center, which is our flagship in the field."
"The program is pushing forward the topic as far as possible and we are interested in supporting and participating in order to receive budgets on the subject."
Prof. Katz admits that Amazon has entered the quantum computing fray a little late but adds, "They have the resources and the engineering capability as well as the strategic vision."
Two years ago, the Israeli government unveiled a six-year national plan to spend NIS 1.2 billion on quantum computing through the Council for Higher education, academic institutions, the Ministry of Defense Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (MAFAT), and other agencies.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 11, 2021
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