IBM Quantum Network Partner Q-CTRL Offers Quantum Error Suppression

IBM Quantum Network Partner Q-CTRL Offers Quantum Error Suppression

The News: IBM convened a gathering of customers and analysts in late September to discuss the technological progress of its quantum computing achievements, its commercialization efforts, and the growth of its partner ecosystem. Within these discussions, IBM Quantum Network Partner Q-CTRL highlighted its novel quantum error suppression technology, which it believes, along with the continuing quantum hardware development and other error-mitigation techniques, will help to usher in an era of so-called Quantum Utility, where the quantum computers of today and the near future are able to begin to tackle the challenging problems across industries that simply cannot be addressed by traditional computers.

You can read more about Q-CTRL and its quantum error suppression technology on its website.

IBM Quantum Network Partner Q-CTRL Offers Quantum Error Suppression

Analyst Take: IBM’s quantum computing team brought together customers and analysts in late September to provide an update on the progress the company has made with delivering quantum computing technology and to highlight the quantum-related offerings of a few of the members of its IBM Quantum Network. Although the availability of the Ansys’ LS-DYNA multi-physics simulation environment likely will help enable the design of quantum computing systems, and T-Systems’ quantum cloud services will help bring quantum innovation to European Union (EU) customers, the most interesting company highlighted during the update was Q-CTRL and its quantum error suppression technology. The technology can be directly integrated with IBM’s 127-qubit Eagle quantum hardware and is available as Fire Opal, an out-of-the-box solution for minimizing error and boosting algorithmic success on quantum computers.

Quantum computers are extremely susceptible to errors caused by interference in the environment. These errors accumulate and lead the algorithms run on quantum computers to fail, preventing end users from achieving the insights they are seeking. Q-CTRL provides error suppression software that allows users to get the best possible results from hardware when running quantum algorithms by reducing hardware error and instability via a single command and with no additional settings or configuration required to enable the technology.

The Need for Error Management With Quantum Computers

Today’s quantum computers are noisy, which describes fluctuations in the number of photons reaching the detector from point to point, often due to environmental factors such as temperature, signal crosstalk, quantum decoherence, and implementation errors with quantum gates. This noise can result in errors, meaning that the quantum computer does not return an expected result to a problem, thereby making the machine unreliable and unusable for solving real-world problems.

To deliver reliable results, the computer must fix errors faster than they accumulate, which to date, has been a capability beyond even the most advanced machines. Q-CTRL suppresses errors rather than trying to completely mitigate them, enabling quantum computing algorithms to run on quantum hardware with what it claims is up to a 1,000x improvement in performance.

How Q-CTRL’s Quantum Error Suppression Functions

Q-CTRL’s quantum error suppression solution comprises a set of techniques that reduce the likelihood of hardware error while quantum bits are being manipulated or used for memory storage. It uses the physics and techniques of the field of quantum control to build resilience against error into the operation of quantum hardware.

According to Michael Biercuk, CEO and founder of Q-CTRL, the underlying technology is based on the concept of robust control. What Q-CTRL is doing is suppressing error at every location that error can pop up. The technique involves using autonomous AI agents that interact directly with IBM quantum hardware and autonomously redefine the analog voltages that are used to define quantum logic operations, such as ‘what is a quantum bit flip,’ ‘what is a quantum XOR,’ and so on, in about 6 minutes across the entire processor.

Next, Biercuk explains, Q-CTRL uses a “compiler, which takes a high-level abstraction and compresses it into the actual native gates that are implemented on hardware. Ours is very efficient in terms of how many quantum resources it requires. Beyond that, we have a layout selection tool, which takes your circuit, or your algorithm which it may involve 10 physical qubits, for example, and then maps them to the actual underlying device, based on characterization we have done and our own AI tools, which predict which mapping of logical conceptual qubits in your algorithm to physical devices will give you the best performance.”

Biercuk adds that, “we integrate something that cancels crosstalk. This is based on a technology called dynamic coupling, which is natively available by itself in Qiskit. But we have a very special way of integrating it into the circuit, which gives you [provably] optimal performance. When you put all of those things together, as well as something which corrects readout errors, this is how you get the biggest possible boosts. And I want to emphasize that this is deterministic, that is in a single shot, the error is reduced, and the user is simply able to get better performance.”

The Effectiveness of Q-CTRL’s Quantum Error Suppression

According to Biercuk, the efficacy of quantum error suppression demonstrated in research on quantum algorithms is exceptional, having demonstrated a 1,000x increase in the likelihood of achieving the correct answer in real algorithms, executed on a range of hardware systems. This research even showed that Quantum Volume, a measure of hardware capability, could be improved using quantum error suppression strategies, indicating that the hardware has effectively become more error resilient.

That said, quantum error suppression is not perfect and cannot correct for all errors, meaning that additional work being done on other approaches, such as quantum error mitigation, is and will continue to be valuable in the development of commercial-grade quantum computing systems. However, Q-CTRL’s approach should help quantum computing vendors and customers accelerate the development of commercially viable quantum computing hardware and applications.

For IBM, working closely with a partner such as Q-CTRL demonstrates its commitment to finding new ways to solve the problems that are preventing the quantum computers of today from serving in commercial capacity. Innovations such as these are particularly helpful to the quantum computing industry as well, which needs to maintain excitement and momentum throughout what will be a long-term journey to adoption as a core computing technology.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Other insights from The Futurum Group:

IBM Pledges To Bring Free AI Training to 2 Million Workers by 2026

IBM Quantum Utility Breakthrough

‘Noisy’ Quantum Computers May Provide Value Before the Era of Fault Tolerance

Author Information

Keith has over 25 years of experience in research, marketing, and consulting-based fields.

He has authored in-depth reports and market forecast studies covering artificial intelligence, biometrics, data analytics, robotics, high performance computing, and quantum computing, with a specific focus on the use of these technologies within large enterprise organizations and SMBs. He has also established strong working relationships with the international technology vendor community and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and events.

In his career as a financial and technology journalist he has written for national and trade publications, including BusinessWeek,, Investment Dealers’ Digest, The Red Herring, The Communications of the ACM, and Mobile Computing & Communications, among others.

He is a member of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP).

Keith holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Magazine Journalism and Sociology from Syracuse University.


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