Two Quantum Computing Conferences, One Insane Week

Published by whurley (12/12/2017)

IBM’s Approximate Quantum Computing Conference and QC Ware’s Q2B Held in the Same Week

We have fully activated the hype cycle on quantum computing. No one should have any doubt. But I try to ignore the hype as much as possible and focus on the substance. That’s why I was happy last week to see two solid quantum computing events in the same week: IBM’s Approximate Quantum Computing Conference and QC Ware and NASA’s Quantum Computing for Business (Q2B) conference. The only problem was that they were on opposite sides of the country. There was only a one-day overlap, but I was only able to work it out to attend one. Based on peer reviews, they were equally fascinating, with great speakers, solid sessions, and great networking opportunities at each.

The week kicked off in Mountain View, California, with QC Ware’s first attempt at an enterprise business-focused quantum event: Q2B. The event advertised the “inaugural business-focused global [quantum computing] conference where you’ll join leaders in quantum software, hardware, and top VC to explore the future of quantum computing.” It delivered on speakers in spades with John Preskill (California Institute of Technology), John Martinis (Google), Shaun Maguire (GV), Martin Hofmann (VW), and Thierry Botter (Airbus). Plus, my coworker from Goldman Sachs, Paul Burchard, spoke about quantum computing applications for the financial industry. And last, but not least, two of my all-time favorites and interview alumni, Bo Ewald, and Jerry Chow. They spoke about their work at D-Wave and IBM Q respectively, and both were on the hardware panel.

With that lineup, I’m super disappointed that I wasn’t there.  If you did attend, let me know how the VC panel went.

Meanwhile, in New York

On Wednesday IBM kicked off the more technical Approximate Quantum Computing Conference in Yorktown Heights, New York. Yet a third interview alumni, Jay Gambetta, gave the opening remarks. He worked the podium with an incredibly impressive set of speakers including Alán Aspuru Guzik (Harvard), Eddie Farhi (MIT/Google), Ken Brown (Georgia Tech), Robin Blume Kohout (Sandia National Laboratories), Xiao Yuan (Oxford), Robin Kothari (Microsoft), Joseph Emerson (Quantum Benchmark, Inc), and Dario Gil (IBM).

Dario Gil moderated a killer panel on pre-fault tolerance quantum computing that featured Dave Bacon (Google), Andrew Childs (University of Maryland), Richard Jozsa (Cambridge), Jungsang Kim (Duke/IonQ), Eleanor Rieffel (NASA), and Matthias Steffen (IBM).  I also really enjoyed Eddie Farhi’s talk on “What To Do with a Near-Term Quantum Computer.” My other favorite session was Andrew Cross’s tutorial on IBM’s QISKIT platform. Really good stuff.

I flew my face off last week and still couldn’t make it to both events. All in all, though, a great week for the quantum computing community. Oh, and if you’re wondering about the art for this post, the IBM event was held at the stunning Watson Research Center that for some reason gave me a strong Stranger Things vibe. Anybody else have that feeling?  I’m pretty sure Bob was immortalized right there in the lobby.