NTT Data to develop quantum algorithm for credit risks assessment

Classiq Company announced a new cooperation in the quantum algorithm field with the IT Services Company NTT Data. This is the first cooperation revealed publicly by Classiq, which within its framework NTT will use the Classiq’s quantum programming platform to develop designated quantum algorithms. NTT will use those algorithms to perform complex calculations in the credit risk analysis field, as part of its novel IT services it delivers to customers in the finance world.

NTT Data, part of NTT Group, is one of the largest IT Services companies in the world. According to Gartner’s ranking, NTT Data is the sixth largest IT Company, revenue-wise, with $20.3 billion revenue in FY2021. It focuses in broad areas such as digitization processes, cloud, business intelligence, business consulting and more, and it serves customer in a wide range of sectors, to include the financial one.  Shunichi Amemiya, Head of Research and Development HQ, NTT Data, says: “We are interested in applying quantum computer technology to financial engineering and believe that the need to compute complex business models will increase in the future”.

Quantum risk management

Credit risk analysis is a weighing process intended to evaluate the risk that borrowers or vendors will not return a loan. The higher the risks – the higher is the interest the lender requests, or even refuse to loan. Amir Naveh, Co-Founder and Head of Algorithms in Classiq, explains to Techtime why quantum computing capabilities are required in calculating credit risk analysis. “Calculating and ranking credit risk requires weighing of many variables, the same way it’s done in financial option pricing process. Usually, an enormous number of scenarios and possibilities should be considered in order to achieve the correct evaluation. Using quantum computing, this process could be accelerated and more accurate, which – in turn – improves risk management of the financial body”.

Classiq is developing CAD solutions that will make it possible to write applications for quantum computers. Nir Minerbi, Classiq co-founder and CEO, told Techtime in an earlier interview: “The quantum revolution consists of two things: hardware and software. Nowadays it is almost impossible to develop applications for a quantum computer, since you have to program at the logic gate level. It’s like designing a chip at the transistor level. We build the tools that allow developing applications at a higher level of abstraction. The next layer in the quantum stack.”

Recently, Classiq launched its proprietary platform’s Beta version which allows, for the first time in the industry, to compose functional algorithms for Quantum computers. The company made the new platform available to several customers, and intends to expand the beta version access to several dozen customers in the next few months.

Classiq launched its beta version for the quantum software platform

Israeli quantum software start-up Classiq launched lately its proprietary platform’s Beta version which allows, for the first time in the industry, to compose functional algorithms for Quantum computers. The company made the new platform available to several customers, among them a Telecom company, Aerospace Company, financial firm, consulting agency and several academic bodies.

In the next few months, the company plans to expand the beta version access to several dozen customers.  In addition, the company had filed 9 patent applications to the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) for its IP relating quantum computing software. The applications relate to writing, compiling, debugging and optimizing functional algorithms designed for Quantum machines. Classiq Company was founded in May 2020 by CEO Nir Minerbi, Head of Algorithms Amir Naveh and CTO Yehuda Naveh. The R&D team currently includes 25 people.  

In recent years, there has been a significant breakthrough in quantum computing, and many technology giants are building powerful quantum computers that are capable, at the level of hardware, of performing considerable tasks. IBM, a pioneer at this field, has launched last year a 65-qubits quantum computer, and set a goal of developing a 1000-qubits processor by 2023.

Building the first layer of the quantum programming stack

However – implementing the quantum computer’s capabilities depends on the software level as well. In the classics bit-oriented computing world, development tools are highly sophisticated, allowing writing complex application with very high abstraction level. This is the result of evolution going on for many years and building a layer upon layer. This is the stack. Since quantum making is qubits-based, the whole stack has to be build from scratch. In fact, a programmer writing code for a quantum machine, have to tailor an algorithm at the logical gates level.

This process might be viable for simple applications with single amount of qubits, but as the application gets more complex and the number of qubits is growing – this mission becomes almost impossible, due to the astronomic number of possible arrangements of the quantum circuit. Classiq has set itself a target to write the first stack layer in the field of quantum computing, and is one of the first start-up companies to develop solutions that will make it possible to write applications for quantum computers. 

One of the co-founders and the Head of Algorithms, Amir Naveh, explained to Techtime that his company’s platform simplifies the method of writing algorithms for quantum software. “Practically, it is impossible to write quantum algorithms at the logical gates level, certainly when the number of qubits is growing. Our platform allows for writing the algorithms at the functional level. The programmer is required to describe the algorithm’s functional logic, and our software translates it to the quantum circuit’s level, at the most optimal manner in terms of resource utilization and memory management”.

From cracking molecules to writing financial options

Quantum computer is not intended to replace the classical one, rather it is planned to solve certain types of problems that regular computer, whatever is its strength, is not capable of solving. Mainly, these are problems require computing an astronomical number of scenarios and combinations, such as simulating molecules behavior during drug development, or rapid pricing of financial options that depend on the correlation between a huge number of other financial assets.

Problems of this kind of are often impossible to solve within a reasonable period, even by the most powerful supercomputers, but they are quite easy solvable with quantum computer, which is capable of performing huge amount of calculations simultaneously. Naveh says: “Main usages of quantum computing are in the financial, chemical and optimization worlds. Almost every area of activity has issues related to optimization. By using our platform, the customers are trying to figure out the way quantum computer may contribute to solve the relevant problems regarding their business”. 

IBM develops a Giant 1,000-qubits Quantum Computer

Above: Members of the IBM Quantum team at work. Credit: Connie Zhou for IBM

IBM announced an ambitious quantum computing roadmap that includes an array of 1,000 qubits (Qbit) quantum computer by the end of 2023. Today’s machinres consist of only a few dozen qubits. According to IBM, the number of qubits in quantum processors will double every year or two. In 2022 IBM will complete the development of a quantum processor with 400 cubits, and in 2023 it will launch a processor with 1,121 cubits to be called Condor.

IBM’s vision is very ambitious: “Our future computers will include more than a million qubits.” IBM is one of the most advanced players in quantum computing. In 2016, it was the first to offer public access to its quantum computer via the cloud. Today, IBM’s cloud provides access to more than 20 quantum computers of 5-qubits and 24-qubits. Earlier this year it launched a new 65-qubit quantum computer, which is the most powerful quantum computer to date.

“Super-fridges” for millions of qubits

IBM is using superconductors to build the new computers, due to their zero resistance at low temperatures. As part of the needed infrastructure, it will build a 10-foot-tall and 6-foot-wide super-refrigerator (to be called Goldeneye), which can accommodate arrays of 1,000 qubits. The long range goal is to build a network of interconnected “super-fridges” that together provide a computing capability of one million qubits.

These fridges keep the qubit array at a temperature close to absolute zero, in order to avoid any electromagnetic interference that may interrupt the quantum circuit. In quantum computing, the smallest radiation can destroy the computational process, thus the biggest challenge in developing a large quantum computer is the ability to preserve the quantum state of the qubits, until the computational process is completed.

Cracking the cholesterol mystery

Speaking with Techime, Nir Minerbi, CEO of the Israel-based Classiq which develops software solutions for quantum computing, explained the practical significance of IBM’s roadmap. “The very fact that a company like IBM, which does not usually release far-reaching statements, presents a detailed technological roadmap with clear goals–  increases the industry’s confidence in the future of quantum computing.”

According to Minerbi, quantum computing is a “tie-breaker” in exactly the types of problems that classical computers, and even supercomputers, have difficulty dealing with. “All the supercomputers in the world, together, will never be able to simulate a single cholesterol molecule. But a quantum computer with several hundred qubits will be able to do this, and will be able to test how different molecules react with cholesterol and to develop drugs.”

The next layer of Quantum Stack

Classiq is developing CAD solutions that will make it possible to write applications for quantum computers. “The quantum revolution consists of two things: hardware and software. Nowadays it is almost impossible to develop applications for a quantum computer, since you have to program at the logic gate level. It’s like designing a chip at the transistor level. We build the tools that allow developing applications at a higher level of abstraction. The next layer in the quantum stack.”

For Classiq, IBM’s roadmap is good news. “As computers get stronger, more companies are interested in developing applications for quantum computers. Today, the entire industry is looking at IBM’s statement. Now there is a clear horizon, and companies know that in a few years there will be quantum computers running significant algorithms. That’s why they are now starting to invest in software development and will need solutions like ours.”