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D-Wave launches open-source quantum-hybrid software

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January 16, 2017

D-Wave said earlier today that it has open sourced a new software tool that prepares specific optimisation problems to run on its hardware.

You can think of the software (Qbsolv) as a D-Wave-specific compiler. Specifically, in the white paper that's posted along with the tool itself at GitHub, the company's Michael Booth, Steven Reinhardt and Aidan Roy explain its role.

To be specific, Qbsolv is “a tool that provides answers to large quadratic unconstrained binary optimisation (QUBO) problems” for execution on a D-Wave computer, a task that has to be handled with care because the problem has to be partitioned to match the exact number of qubits on the target chip.

Therefore, Qbsolv maps the problem to the hardware, partitioning a QUBO into “subQUBOs”, solves them, and recombines them into a solution to “the original instance”.

As well as being able to run the problem on a D-Wave device, the software can run on a classical tabu search solver.

So what's a QUBO? It's an NP-hard pattern matching technique used in machine learning, and D-Wave's paper says it's well-suited to quantum annealing.

The white paper notes that Qbsolv is an iterative solver. Each trial first calls the D-Wave hardware as the subQUBO solver “for global minimisation”, followed by “a call to tabu search for local minimisation”.

IT Direction readers may remember that minimisation problems are what D-Wave does best-- a “solution” is represented by the system being in the lowest possible energy state for a given problem.

But make no mistake: quantum computing is very complex, and the whitepaper notes that its systems have “limited precision” and might not find the optima for subQUBOs.

Therefore the hybrid quantum-classical approach Qbsolv uses is that the quantum computer returns various possible answers, and a tabu search picks out the best result from those.

With the open source software now published, the company hopes that users will experiment with better ways to handle subQUBOs, and different ways to partition the QUBO problem.

Linux or OS X users can now work with Qbsolv without access to a quantum computer, and D-Wave notes that to run it on a quantum machine needs additional software that's not part of the release.

Source: D-Wave.


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