Project goal

The LHC’s ambitious upgrade programme will result in significant ICT challenges over the next decade and beyond. It is therefore vital that we — members of the high-energy physics (HEP) research community — continue to explore innovative new technologies, so as to ensure that we can continue to maximise the discovery potential of the world-leading research infrastructures at our disposal. Technologies related to quantum computing hold the promise of substantially speeding up computationally expensive tasks. We aim to assess the potential benefits of this technology and understand which activities within the HEP community are most well suited to their application.

R&D topic
R&D Topic 2: Computing performance and software
Project coordinator(s)
Federico Carminati
Technical team members
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Collaborator liaison(s)
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Collaborators

Project background

Over recent decades, the HEP community has acted as a driving force behind developments in a range of ICT areas, with the required computing power for planned projects often having outstripped what was foreseen to likely be available at the time of projects’ conception. Today, significant developments are being made in the field of quantum computing, with both established computing vendors and start-up companies are carrying out important activity in this field. It is therefore important to explore these technologies as one possible option for addressing future challenges.

Recent progress

Given both the potential and the uncertainty surrounding quantum computing, it is important to explore what these new technologies could bring to our field. To this end, CERN openlab organised a first-of-its kind workshop on quantum computing in high-energy physics in October 2018. Over 400 people followed the workshop, which provided an overview of the current state of quantum-computing technologies. The event also served as a forum to kick-off discussion of which activities within the high-energy physics (HEP) community may be amenable to the application of quantum-computing technologies.

The workshop brought members of the HEP community together with leading companies working on quantum computing technologies. Intel, IBM, Google, D-Wave, Microsoft, Rigetti, and Strangeworks all presented their latest work in this area at the event.

Next steps

Discussions are currently being held with a number of companies working in this area, with a view to formalising joint R&D projects soon. These will help us to assess the future potential of quantum-computing technologies, their likely impact on computing models in HEP, and the feasibility of applying today’s quantum-computing technologies to existing problems in HEP.

Publications

    Carminati, F., Quantum thinking required, CERN Courier, November (2018).

Presentations

    F. Carminati, CERN openlab: driving innovation in HEP computing (14 December), Presented at DAE International Symposium on Nuclear Physics at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, India. http://cern.ch/go/s6Nf
    All presentations from the CERN openlab workshop in October 2018 can be found on the event page. Recordings of the presentations are also available via this link.