Researchers from Rigetti Computing and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia say they have taken an important step towards the use of quantum computing in the financial services sector.
Rigetti’s Mark Hodson, Brendan Ruck, and David Garvin, and CBA's senior manager, emerging technology, Hugh (Hui Chuan) Ong and senior data scientist Stefan Dulman (who recently departed the bank), this week published details of their experiments using a quantum computer to optimise a portfolio rebalancing strategy.
Although the researchers relied on a simulator of a ‘gate’ model quantum computer for their experiments, Rigetti said the research will help with understanding the potential application of quantum computing by financial services firms.
“Our groups have been working together to accelerate the commercial feasibility of applying quantum computing to practical use cases,” said Michael Brett, senior vice president of applications at Rigetti.
“Bringing together quantum technologists with financial services experts was necessary to develop this application. It would not have been possible without close collaboration between domain experts from each field.”
Brett is the former chief executive of Australian quantum computing startup QxBranch, which was acquired by Rigetti in July this year.
QxBranch has been collaborating with CBA for a number of years, and in April 2017 the company revealed that it had developed a quantum computing simulator for the bank that could run on cloud or on-premises infrastructure.
“CBA is investing in quantum computing exploration to ensure we have a front-row seat to the potential of its application to the financial services industry,” said Samantha Lawson, CBA’s general manager, strategy, transformation and emerging technology.
Lawson also sits on the board of Silicon Quantum Computing, which was spun out of the UNSW-based Australian Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology (CQC2T). SQC is Australia’s first quantum computing hardware company, and in addition to UNSW is backed by CBA, Telstra, and the federal and NSW governments.
Rigetti cautioned that the research involved only a “a small-scale banking problem in a simulated environment,” which it said was akin to testing a wing design in a wind tunnel.
“At this scale it would not outperform traditional computers for the same use case, however, it brings the industry one step closer to understanding how quantum advantage could be achieved for practical financial use cases,” a statement from the company said.
Quantum advantage, or quantum supremacy, refers to a quantum computing outperforming a classical computer at the same task. Google researchers last month said they had achieved quantum supremacy using a processor dubbed 'Sycamore' though IBM has challenged their use of the term.
The paper, Portfolio rebalancing experiments using the Quantum Alternating Operator Ansatz, is available at arXiv.org.
Correction: Hugh Ong's affiliation was originally described as Rigetti, rather than CBA.