Some games aren’t mere entertainment

February 10, 2022

System Model H1 beats classical system at game designed to test quantum mechanics  

By Kevin Jackson

For Quantinuum

Some might view games as merely entertainment but for Professor Emanuele Dalla Torre at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and his team, playing games is useful for measuring the effectiveness of today’s commercial quantum computers.

In a recent study published in Advanced Quantum Technologies, Dalla Torre and two of his students, Meron Sheffer and Daniel Azses, describe how they ran a collaborative, mathematical game on different technologies to evaluate 1) whether the systems demonstrated quantum mechanical properties and 2) how often the machines delivered the correct results.  The team then compared the results to those generated by a classical computer.  

Of the technologies tested, only the Quantinuum System Model H1-1, Powered by Honeywell1, outperformed the classical results.  Dalla Torre said classical computers return the correct answer only 87.5 percent of the time.  The H1-1 returned the correct answer 97 percent of the time. (The team also tested the game on the now-retired System Model H0, which achieved 85 percent.)

“What we see in the H1 is that the probability is not 100 percent, so it's not a perfect machine, but it is still significantly above the classical threshold. It's behaving quantum mechanically,” Dalla Torre said.  

Playing the game

The mathematical game Dalla Torre and his team played requires non-local correlations. In other words, it’s a collaborative game in which parts of the system can’t communicate to solve challenges or score points.  
“It's a collaborative game based on some mathematical rules, and the players score a point if they can satisfy all of them,” said Dalla Torre. “The key challenge is that during the game, the players cannot communicate among themselves. If they could communicate, it would be easy – but they can’t. Think of building something without being able to talk to each other. So, there is a limit to how much you can do. For the machines in this game, this is the classical threshold.”

Quantum computers are uniquely suited to solve such problems because they follow quantum mechanical properties, which allow for non-local effects. According to quantum mechanics, something that is in one place can instantaneously affect something else that is in a different place.  

“What this experiment demonstrates is that there is a non-local effect, meaning that when you measure one of the qubits, you are actually affecting the others instantaneously,” Dalla Torre said.  

Less noise, higher performance

Dalla Torre attributes the performance of the Quantinuum technology to their low level of “noise.”  

All commercial quantum computers operating today experience noise or interference from a variety of sources.  Eliminating or suppressing such noise is essential to scaling the technology and achieving fault tolerant systems, a design principle that prevents errors from cascading throughout a system and corrupting circuits.

“Noise in this context just means an imperfection – it’s like a typo,” Dalla Torre said “So, a quantum computer does a computation and sometimes it gives you the wrong answer. The technical term is NISQ, noisy intermediate scale quantum computing. This is the general name of all the devices that we have right now. These are devices that are quantum, but they are not perfect ones. They make some mistakes.”

For Dr. Brian Neyenhuis, Commercial Operations Group Leader at Quantinuum, projects such as Dalla Torre's are useful benchmarks of early quantum computers and, also help demonstrate and more clearly understand the difference between classical and quantum computation.

After seeing the initial results from the H0 system, he worked with Dalla Torre to run it again on the upgraded H1 system (still only using six qubits).

"We knew from a large number of standard benchmarks that the H1 system was a big step forward for us, but it was still nice to see such a clear signal that the improvements that we had made translated directly to better performance on this non-local game,” Dr. Neyenhuis said.

What’s next

Dalla Torre and his students completed the experiment through the Microsoft Azure Quantum platform. “Being able to do this kind of work on the cloud is vital for the growth of quantum experimentation,” he said. “The fact that I was sitting in Israel at Bar-Ilan University and I could connect to the computers and use them using on the internet, that's something amazing.”

Dalla Torre and his team would like to expand this sort of research in the future, especially as commercial quantum computers add qubits and reduce noise.  

Kaniah Konkoly-Thege

Kaniah is Chief Legal Counsel and SVP of Government Relations for Quantinuum. In her previous role, she served as General Counsel, Honeywell Quantum Solutions. Prior to Honeywell, she was General Counsel, Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and Technologies, LLC, and Senior Attorney, U.S. Department of Energy. She was Lead Counsel before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, the Merit Systems Protection Board, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Kaniah holds a J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law and B.A., International Relations and Spanish from the College of William and Mary.

Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is Chief Information Officer for Quantinuum. In his previous role, he served as CIO for Honeywell Quantum Solutions and led a cross-functional team responsible for Information Technology, Cybersecurity, and Physical Security. For Honeywell, Jeff has held numerous management and executive roles in Information Technology, Security, Integrated Supply Chain and Program Management. Jeff holds a B.S., Computer Science, University of Arizona. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, attaining the rank of Commander.

Matthew Bohne

Matthew Bohne is the Vice President & Chief Product Security Officer for Honeywell Corporation. He is a passionate cybersecurity leader and executive with a proven track record of building and leading cybersecurity organizations securing energy, industrial, buildings, nuclear, pharmaceutical, and consumer sectors. He is a sought-after expert with deep experience in DevSecOps, critical infrastructure, software engineering, secure SDLC, supply chain security, privacy, and risk management.

Todd Moore

Todd Moore is the Global Vice President of Data Encryption Products at Thales. He is responsible for setting the business line and go to market strategies for an industry leading cybersecurity business. He routinely helps enterprises build solutions for a wide range of complex data security problems and use cases. Todd holds several management and technical degrees from the University of Virginia, Rochester Institute of Technology, Cornell University and Ithaca College. He is active in his community, loves to travel and spends much of his free time supporting his family in pursuing their various passions.

John Davis

Retired U.S. Army Major General John Davis is the Vice President, Public Sector for Palo Alto Networks, where he is responsible for expanding cybersecurity initiatives and global policy for the international public sector and assisting governments around the world to prevent successful cyber breaches. Prior to joining Palo Alto Networks, John served as the Senior Military Advisor for Cyber to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and served as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy.  Prior to this assignment, he served in multiple leadership positions in special operations, cyber, and information operations.