Quantum computing for high-energy physics


CERN PHOTOWALK 2010 - Computer Centre - Veronika McQuade
(Image: CERN)

This article was originally published on the CERN openlab website.

CERN openlab is organising a first-of-its-kind workshop on quantum computing on 5-6 November. The event will take place in the CERN Main Auditorium, and will also be webcast live: https://webcast.web.cern.ch/event/i719844.

The ambitious upgrade programme for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will result in significant challenges related to information and communications technologies (ICTs) over the next decade and beyond. It is therefore vital that we — members of the high-energy physics (HEP) research community and beyond — keep looking for innovative technologies, so as to ensure that we can continue to maximise the discovery potential of the world-leading research infrastructures at our disposal. Technologies related to quantum computing hold the promise of substantially speeding up computationally expensive tasks.

While significant developments are being made in the field of quantum computing, today’s hardware has not yet reached the level at which it could be put into production within our community. Both established computing vendors and start-up companies are carrying out important activity in this field. Nevertheless, it remains difficult to foresee when more stable hardware — capable of providing concrete benefits for the HEP community — will be available.

Given both the potential and the uncertainty surrounding quantum computing, it is important to explore what these new technologies could bring to our field. It is also incumbent upon us to improve our understanding of which of our activities could most benefit from quantum-computing algorithms, as well as working to understand what the overall impact on the computing models used within HEP are likely to be. A large part of this work can be carried out today using on quantum simulators.

To ensure this activity is a success, it is vital that that we bring the whole community together, fostering common activities and knowledge sharing. CERN openlab is therefore capitalising on its deep connections with the HEP community and its well-established links across many of the world’s leading ICT companies to set up this kick-off workshop. As well as providing a forum for sharing knowledge and ideas, the event will serve to provide an overview of the current state of quantum-computing technologies and will help us all to understand which activities within the HEP community most well suited to the application of such technologies.