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How IBM Universal Quantum Computing Impacts HIT Infrastructure

IBM announced plans for universal quantum computers to allow faster and more accurate data processing for healthcare organizations.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- IBM announced its initiative to build commercially available universal quantum computing systems for business and science. The proposed system, IBM Q, will be delivered via the IBM Cloud platform and is the company’s next endeavor following Watson and blockchain.

For healthcare organizations, the future of quantum computers will take big data analytics further by diving deeper into data patterns that are seen as too complex.

One of the areas IBM is focusing on while building IBM Q is drug research and materials discovery. The company hopes to implement the technology in the medical field to untangle complex molecular structures, leading to new discoveries.

IBM’s announcement includes the release of a new application programming interface (API) for the IBM Quantum Experience. The API enables programmers and developers to begin building interfaces that will connect classical computers and legacy systems to the existing five quantum (qubit) cloud-based quantum computer without needing a deep understanding or background in physics.

"IBM has invested over decades to growing the field of quantum computing and we are committed to expanding access to quantum systems and their powerful capabilities for the science and business communities," IBM Research Director and Senior Vice President of Hybrid Cloud Arvind Krishna said in a statement. "Following Watson and blockchain, we believe that quantum computing will provide the next powerful set of services delivered via the IBM Cloud platform, and promises to be the next major technology that has the potential to drive a new era of innovation across industries."

IBM Q will be designed to handle problems that are too large or complex for legacy computing systems. Classical computers use a binary system (bits) to encode data and define every piece of data as a one or a zero. A quantum computer uses qubits which can represent a one, zero, or any quantum superposition of the qubit states.

IBM intends to expand the application domain of quantum computing. To increase quantum volume, IBM plans to construct commercial IBM Q systems with 50 qubits in the next few years to demonstrate capabilities beyond today's classical systems. The company also plans to collaborate with key industry partners to develop applications that exploit the quantum speedup of the systems.

"Classical computers are extraordinarily powerful and will continue to advance and underpin everything we do in business and society. But there are many problems that will never be penetrated by a classical computer. To create knowledge from much greater depths of complexity, we need a quantum computer," IBM Systems Senior Vice President Tom Rosamilia said in a statement. "We envision IBM Q systems working in concert with our portfolio of classical high-performance systems to address problems that are currently unsolvable, but hold tremendous untapped value."

Quantum computing in healthcare has the potential to revolutionize patient care. Quantum computing can improve disease screening and detection by discovering and predicting abnormalities.

Currently, healthcare researchers are focusing on how quantum computing-based techniques can be used for cancer detection.

Current cancer detection technology is time consuming and receiving accurate results can be a slow process. There is a demand for more accurate, fast, and efficient methods to improve the process.

Quantum computing will look deeper into the data provided for cancer screenings to detect disease-specific clues and biomarkers. Quantum computing potentially also improve MRI technology by implementing extremely precise measurements, allowing doctors to look much deeper into smaller particles which would be impossible to discover with traditional computing.

IBM’s roadmap is focused on developing all parts of the system and will leverage IBM’s prior quantum computing research to advance artificial intelligence, cloud security, and other data intensive processes. 


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