Quantum computing has the potential to change our approach to some of the most difficult computing problems faced by organizations across a wide variety of industrial sectors.

These challenges include NP hard problems that are notoriously difficult for classical computing systems. Because of this, billions of dollars are being invested around the world in research and technology development for quantum computers. From a theoretical perspective there are many different models of quantum computing (gate, adiabatic / annealing, one-way, topological) and different ways in which a quantum computer might be built, such as using superconducting metals, ion traps and photons.

To speed computation, quantum computers tap directly into the fundamental nature of reality – the strange and counterintuitive world of quantum mechanics. Recent breakthroughs have allowed for the creation of machines which use quantum effects such as superposition, entanglement and quantum tunneling to solve algorithms in completely new ways. This radically different style of computing allows us to solve certain problems much more quickly than is possible with traditional computers.

Today the only available scalable and commercially available quantum computer is built by D-Wave Systems, but other companies and research labs around the world are making meaningful progress toward quantum processors. D-Wave’s latest generation, the 1000+ qubit D-Wave 2X system, implements a quantum annealing algorithm, which solves problems by searching for the global minimum of a function. Scientific papers and other material about the D-Wave system can be found at www.dwavesys.com/resources/publications and videos explaining the technology can be viewed at www.dwavesys.com/resources/videos.

Other systems under development by organizations including IBM and Microsoft are exploring methods to solve a wider variety of problems with quantum hardware. Many of these methods will lead to new tools for software developers and industry practitioners.

Quantum for Quants is an online repository for quantitative finance professionals to share ideas and insights regarding these exciting new devices and to explore their application to the finance industry.