Vanguard Magazine

Feb/Mar 2015

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 38 of 47

T TechNOlOgIcal BENEFItS FEBRUARY/MARCH 2015 39 Quantum computing, still in its in- fancy, represents a leap forward in computing. The underpinnings of quantum computing are com- plex and somewhat controversial. Suffice it to say that whereas classical computers operate in a linear way, requiring data to be encoded into binary digits (bits), each of which is always in one of two states (0 or 1), quantum computation uses qubits (quan- tum bits), which can be in more than one state simultaneously: a 1 or a 0, or both at the same time. Eventually, large-scale quantum computers will be able to quickly solve problems that would take today's computers centuries to solve. Quantum computing institutes over the last five years. As we en- gaged more with Canadian businesses and universities, we found a depth of knowl- edge and a quality of research being done in Canada equal to the best in the world. We discovered that with strategic and fo- cused investments, the IRB obligations could turn into a win-win-win situation with big upsides, not just for the Canadian companies and universities we invest in, and for Canada, but for us too. So in 2008, we decided that, rather than research for research's sake, we would fo- cus our IRB investments in practical areas, areas with the potential to provide real world solutions to problems, areas with strong potential for commercialization that Lockheed Martin was exploring for its own strategic reasons as well. And thus was born what we called IRB-enabled Entre- preneurship. A perfect example of this approach at work is the collaboration between Lock- heed Martin and D-Wave. Lockheed Martin designs some of the most advanced and elaborate systems in the world; systems that command and con- trol military aircraft and ships, for example. Roughly half the cost of creating such systems is on verification and validation. Verification and validation is work done to assure the quality and reliability of the system, including the elimination of errors from both the computing layers and physi- cal layers of an integrated system. When we wanted to explore approaches that might reduce the time and cost for verification and validation, we put together a consortium of Canadian universities led by Dalhousie University and a small com- pany in British Columbia, D-Wave, that was starting to be recognized for world- class work in the area of quantum comput- ing. We tested them first, by sending them a 30-year old block of code with an error in it as a sample problem to run on their system, using Dalhousie's algorithms. It had taken our best engineers many months to find the error 30 years ago. It took D- Wave six weeks. We were impressed. Here then was a core group of academics and entrepreneurs working in an area with the potential to provide real-world solu- tions. And not just to our verification and validation needs. Potential applications for quantum computing include any area that deals with complex systems and masses of data, such as software development, finan- cial risk analysis, or even the detection of patterns in genetic data, potentially leading to new treatments for diseases like cancer, for example. So we began making investments in D- Wave, Dalhousie and its consortium part- ners at the University of British Columbia and Université de Sherbrooke. In late 2010, Lockheed became D-Wave's first customer, buying their D-Wave One sys- tem, the first commercial quantum com- puter in the world. In 2013, we purchased the D-Wave Two, a newer, higher-power model that uses more qubits. D-Wave is now a world-leader in quantum comput- ing that counts NASA and Google among its customers. A revolution in computing hardware al- ways opens exciting new opportunities in the world of software, so here's an example of IRB-enabled Entrepreneurship in that area. We are now supporting the work of another group of innovative Canadian en- trepreneurs, this time on the East Coast, with significant investments in a new com- pany called Quantum Research Analytics (QRA), a spinout of the Dalhousie-led consortium, that opened its doors in Hali- fax a year ago, with Lockheed Martin as its first customer. The company will develop and market application software for the D-Wave computers to address the multi- billion dollar worldwide need for verifica- tion and validation software and services. Taking such forward-looking business risks would not have been in the cards for us without the IRB policy. So, it can truly be said that the IRB policy solidified a world-leading role for Canada in a prom- ising new field, with applications that go far beyond the defence and security sector. I welcome the new ITB policy, and ap- plaud the addition of the Value Proposi- tion. With a strong focus on innovation the bridge building between Canadian labs and the global marketplace will continue apace, and in a few years we can look back on successful examples of ITB-enabled En- trepreneurship. Photos: D-Wave

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