QuAIL is the space agency’s hub for an experiment to assess the potential of quantum computers to perform calculations that are difficult or impossible using conventional supercomputers.

NASA’s QuAIL team aims to demonstrate that quantum computing and quantum algorithms may someday dramatically improve the agency’s ability to solve difficult optimization problems for missions in aeronautics, Earth and space sciences, and space exploration.

Support structure for installation of the D-Wave Vesuvius processor, which is cooled to 20 millikelvin (near absolute zero).

The hope is that quantum computing will vastly improve a wide range of tasks that can lead to new discoveries and technologies, and which may significantly change the way we solve real-world problems.

Beginning with the D-Wave Two™ quantum computer, NASA’s QuAIL team is evaluating various quantum computing approaches to help address NASA challenges. Initial work focuses on theoretical and empirical analysis of quantum annealing approaches to difficult optimization problems.

The research team is also studying how the effects of noise, imprecision in the quantum annealing parameters, and thermal processes affect the efficacy and robustness of quantum annealing approaches to these problems. Over the next five years, the team will also develop quantum AI algorithms, problem decomposition and hardware embedding techniques, and quantum-classical hybrid algorithms.

NASA welcomes researchers at other institutions who are interested in collaborating with the QuAIL team in these areas to contact the QuAIL team.

D-Wave Vesuvius processor support structureSupport structure for installation of the D-Wave Vesuvius processor, which is cooled to 20 millikelvin (near absolute zero).

What is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing is based on quantum bits or qubits. Unlike traditional computers, in which bits must have a value of either zero or one, a qubit can represent a zero, a one, or both values simultaneously. Representing information in qubits allows the information to be processed in ways that have no equivalent in classical computing, taking advantage of phenomena such as quantum tunneling and quantum entanglement. As such, quantum computers may theoretically be able to solve certain problems in a few days that would take millions of years on a classical computer.