TQD Exclusive: Booz Allen Hamilton’s QC Research Team Offers Quantum Industry Insights, Outlook

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IMAGE CREDIT: “©Judy Davis/ Hoachlander Davis Photography”

For the past 6 years, the company’s quantum computing research group has brought their expertise to businesses and organizations considering the adoption of quantum technology.

We wanted to get their insight on quantum computing — its present and its future.

Here are responses from their team to our questions.

Has Booz Allen Hamilton seen an increase recently in interest from clients new to QC looking to learn more?
We have seen activity and interest in quantum computing increase dramatically in 2019. Across Booz Allen’s myriad roles throughout our client spaces, we are seeing increasing interest, opportunities, and most of all, potential benefit.
JD Dulny, Chief Scientist of Booz Allen’s quantum computing research team

Booz Allen Hamilton is looking to help find commercial applications for QC for clients – can you talk about some of these (e.g. DWave, satellites), and what you are looking to do going forward?
With respect to quantum computing, Booz Allen Hamilton remains hardware agnostic. We are not building devices, so we have no preference for any particular system or application. Our objective is to bring value from quantum computing to our clients’ missions, and to help them understand its coming impact. Our intention is to continue to work with our clients on the full quantum spectrum from basic research to high-level strategy as quantum technologies continue to develop.
— Jake Farinholt, Lead Scientist on Booz Allen’s quantum computing research team

Where are you seeing the biggest immediate applications (e.g. optimization, chemistry)?
The most immediate application that we are seeing from research in quantum computing is in better classical algorithms for a wide variety of tasks. We all know that when large scale universal fault-tolerant quantum computers come into existence, they will provide significant computational improvements to a wide variety of tasks. However, the novel approaches developed to benchmark these algorithms has led to some quite impressive classical algorithms. This is great news: we are seeing a return on investment in quantum computing today!
— Michael Jarret, Lead Scientist on Booz Allen’s quantum computing research team

What are the biggest things holding QC back from becoming more well-known / in the mainstream?
There is general awareness of quantum computing in the mainstream. However, it can be incredibly difficult for someone who is not actively embedded in this area to be able to distinguish the hype from the facts. At Booz Allen, we do not build quantum hardware, and we are not selling devices. Our business is driven by our ability to deliver rigorous technical support, as well as reliable and unbiased information necessary to make informed decisions amidst the influx of both facts and hype surrounding quantum computing.
— Michael Jarret

Can you tell us a bit more about your QC consultancy practice and team?

Booz Allen Hamilton is a consulting firm with over a century of management, technology, and engineering experience. We have teams that often have multi-year to multi-decade experience supporting specific clients with their missions. Comparatively, our quantum effort is relatively young, but working alongside these teams allows us to build on their experience and deliver critical, client-specific results very efficiently. Not all of our clients are directly quantum-focused, but because of the wide area of impact that quantum technologies can have, it is important for us to have the ability to rapidly and comprehensively support all of these impact areas.

 In order to provide this critical support, our quantum computing effort has three major components: basic research, applied analysis, and technical consulting. We firmly believe that in order to properly advise our clients about such a technical area, we must first be able to actively execute in this area, and this focus on actively working in the domain while simultaneously consulting is something that really sets us apart from many other companies.

Basic Research:
Quantum information science is a rather unique scientific field in that quite often a foundational result can have nearly immediate impact. For example, basic mathematical results can improve quantum algorithmic efficiencies and lead to reduced resource overheads; new complexity bounds can reveal new limits or capabilities of quantum computers for certain tasks. While these are just examples, they stress the importance that basic research can have in quantum computing. At Booz Allen, we recognize the need for, and actively pursue basic research in quantum information science.

Applied Analysis:
Because Booz Allen often has years, and even decades of experience with our clients, we have a very clear understanding of their various missions. Our applied analysis component recognizes the importance we place on providing the most useful and reliable support for our clients and their mission needs. Coupling this with our strong technical background in quantum computing research, we are uniquely positioned to be able to utilize quantum computing hardware and software and apply them to specific mission problem sets. Our applied analysis business focuses precisely on this.

Technical Consulting:
Our third quantum thrust is in direct quantum consulting. In addition to understanding the technology, we function in a trusted advisor role to many of our clients, advising them on quantum technology’s coming impact on their missions. In addition to providing reports and other analyses, we also work side-by-side with our clients in support roles in high-end research components of the Government.
— JD Dulny

About Booz Allen Hamilton

Booz Allen Hamilton is one of the world’s leading management and information technology consulting firms. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia and with 80 other offices around the globe, the firm has helped guide organizations big and small through the waves of technological change for more than a century. The company provides consulting, analysis and engineering services to public and private sector organizations and nonprofits.

Learn more about Booz Allen Hamilton and its quantum team online.