Members selected for the research program for the development of a quantum annealing machine enabling high-efficiency, high-speed processing

Yokohama, Japan, December 12, 2018 - NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701), Tokyo Institute of Technology, Waseda University, and Yokohama National University announced that they have been selected to participate in the "Project for Innovative AI Chips and Next-Generation Computing Technology Development," a new project launched by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) (*1). Also participating in this project will be the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology as NEC's joint implementation partner and Kyoto University as NEC's subcontractor.

This project is aimed at contributing to the promotion of high-efficiency, high-precision social systems for Society 5.0 by realizing a high-speed, high-precision optimization solution platform that can be used to address real problems facing all industrial domains through the integration of quantum annealing machines and common software infrastructure.

Project participants will not only be tackling coherence time and integration--two of the issues plaguing quantum annealing machines, which are expected to be a breakthrough in terms of providing fast solutions to combinatorial optimization problems, but also developing elemental technologies to succeed in the domestic production of a quantum annealing machine.

In addition to endeavoring to realize a quantum annealing machine through superconducting parametron device development, three-dimensional integration technology, and signal reading/control as well as theoretical studies and simulations supporting them, the four participating organizations will work in close coordination with those charged with the task of developing software infrastructure for application and software layers in this project commissioned by NEDO (i.e., Research and Development of Common Software Platform for Ising Machines; representative entity: Waseda University) to achieve mutual optimization and bring to fruition the strong unification of both sides.

In Society 5.0, which has been proposed by the Japanese government, IoT will be used to organically combine social systems with cloud computing.

The world's first proposal for a solution to combinatorial optimization problems through the use of a quantum annealing machine was made by Hidetoshi Nishimori, one of the co-proponents of this new research and development project, and Tadashi Kadowaki of Tokyo Institute of Technology in 1998 (*2). The addition of a completely new calculation principle to cloud computing made possible with a quantum annealing machine is expected to enable optimization problems like those that have up until now relied on approximate solutions with low precision due to time constraints to be solved in a short period of time and with high precision.

However, as current quantum annealing machines are not yet in completed form, there is a need to address both of the issues associated with present superconducting quantum annealing devices--that is, quantum coherence (*3) and integration, which are regarded as the foundation for high-speed calculation.

As the representative entity for this project, NEC is developing new quantum devices to overcome the issues of quantum coherence and integration (*4). The company has already demonstrated double-digit improvement (*5) of the amount of time quantum coherence can be maintained, which is expected to lead to improved calculation accuracy and speed. Going forward, NEC will continue working to develop multi-bit quantum devices and demonstrate the complete coupling method among other efforts.


Research Structure and Roles

1: Research and development of a high-coherence superconducting parametron annealing device [Parties in charge: NEC, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology]

2: Research and development of three-dimensional mounting technology supporting the shift to multi-bit [Parties in charge: NEC, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology]

3: Research and development of a highly efficient expression method for n-body interaction [Party in charge: Tokyo Institute of Technology]

4: Research and development related to quantum annealing mechanism design optimization technology [Party in charge: Waseda University]

5: Research and development of a quantum bit control/readout circuit using a quantum flux circuit [Party in charge: Yokohama National University]

6: Research and development of performance evaluations for quantum annealing through high-speed parallel simulation of quantum dynamics

[Parties in charge: NEC, Kyoto University]


*2 Tadashi Kadowaki and Hidetoshi Nishimori, "Quantum annealing in the transverse Ising model," Physical Review E, Nov. 1998.

*3 Quantum coherence: In quantum mechanics, the state of a system is described by wave function and is a state of superposition in which different vibration states are superimposed like waves on the surface of water or string vibrations. In quantum computing, the parallelism of computation using this state of superposition is utilized. Quantum coherence refers to the nature of quantum mechanical waves enabling a state of superposition like this.

*4 New quantum device

*5 According to NEC research.

About Tokyo Institute of Technology

About Waseda University

Waseda University is a leading private, non-profit institution of higher education based in central Tokyo, enrolling over 50,000 students in 13 undergraduate and 20 graduate schools. Founded in 1882, Waseda continues to fulfill its mission to produce leaders, counting among its alumni seven prime ministers and many politicians, business leaders, journalists, diplomats, scholars, scientists, actors, writers, athletes and artists. The University is also number one in Japan in international activities, including the number of international students, and has the broadest range of degree programs fully taught in English.

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