March 5, 2020
In three months, Honeywell International will roll out an “early stage” quantum computer for “commercial experiments,” with JPMorgan Chase as its first public user. Honeywell Quantum Solutions president Tony Uttley stated it will speed up calculations and develop new materials and trading strategies for financial services firms, but it could also be used to power machine learning calculations by aerospace, oil and gas companies. IBM, Google and Microsoft are also at work on quantum computing solutions.
The Wall Street Journal reports that healthcare could also see major benefits from quantum computing. “We believe that quantum computing is going to profoundly impact a number of industries,” said Uttley, adding that, whereas the current computer has a quantum volume of 16, Honeywell expects it to expand to at least 64.
IBM reported its quantum computer has a quantum volume of 32. Quantum volume, first defined by IBM, describes how powerful a quantum system can be, but Gartner analyst Matthew Brisse noted that “there are no universally accepted standards for measuring quantum-computing performance.” Gartner has predicted that, by 2023, “a fifth of organizations, including businesses and governments, are expected to budget for quantum-computing projects, up from less than 1 percent in 2018.”
Uttley explained that Honeywell’s quantum computer is “based on a method that uses trapped ions,” which he said, “makes for more accurate calculations compared to other techniques because it allows for the quantum bits to be controlled more accurately while mitigating potential errors.” This same method is also used by startup IonQ. Early adopters such as Google and IBM instead “manufacture superconducting qubits that are extremely delicate and need to be supercooled to create quantum mechanical effects.”
JPMorgan Chase managing director/global technology head of applied research and engineering Marco Pistoia called Honeywell’s quantum computer “revolutionary” for reducing its error rate and increasing the stability of its qubits via the trapped ion technique. His company continues to experiment with IBM’s quantum computer, in “a partnership that began in late 2017.”
Pistoia said quantum computing will speed up calculations such as Monte Carlo simulations, “commonly used to calculate the theoretical value of an option, or a contract that gives individuals the right to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specific price and time.” It can also be used in portfolio optimization or detecting fraud. “These are all problems that when you look at them classically they have very high complexity, so they lend themselves very naturally to quantum computing,” he said.
Honeywell has also invested in U.K.-based Cambridge Quantum Computing and Boston-based Zapata Computing, both quantum computing software companies.