Baidu Establishes Institute for Quantum Computing

Since the beginning of this year, quantum computing has attracted vast attention, with an increasing number of companies competing for leadership in the field.

Today, Baidu announced its establishment of the Institute for Quantum Computing. It plans to establish world-class standards within the next five years and gradually integrate quantum computing into its business.

Baidu Institute for Quantum Computing will conduct research on quantum computing software and IT application. Professor Runyao Duan, the founding director for the Center of Quantum Software and Information at the University of Technology Sydney, will serve as director of the Institute and will report directly to Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu.

Runyao Duan

Duan earned both his bachelor and doctorate degrees in computer science from Tsinghua University, and is now a tenured professor at the University of Technology Sydney and a Future Fellow of the Australian Research Council. He began to work as the founding director for the Center of Quantum Software and Information in Sept. 15 2016. His major focus of research is quantum computing and quantum information theory, especially quantum entanglement characteristics and application, and quantum communication channel capacity.

Since then, BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) all joined to compete in quantum computing.

Tencent and Baidu chose to build quantum research laboratories, inviting industry leaders to lead the R&D. Alibaba is working with research institutes such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences to launch superconducting quantum computing services on its public cloud with 11-qubit servers.

Quantum computing is mainly used for large-scale complex data processing and quantum encryption of internet security services. With in-depth application of AI, requirements for computing capacities have increased. With high speed and parallel computing capabilities, quantum computing is playing an ever more important part. Therefore, Baidu, is “all-in” on AI and values the development of quantum computing.

In addition to the Chinese giants, other big companies including Intel, Google and IBM have also begun to make their moves in quantum computing. IBM is the most experienced in this field. Intel just announced at this year’s CES that quantum computing is one of the themes for future development. Google’s technological progress is also fast, demonstrated by their recent launch of the world’s first 72-qubit universal quantum computer.

IBM 50-qubit prototypes

At the core of quantum computers is the processor. China has lagged far behind the U.S. since the PC era in this area. Previously, Alibaba Cloud and Chinese Academy of Sciences jointly launched the first superconducting 11-qubit quantum server. In contrast, IBM developed a 20-qubit quantum computer and has presented 50-qubit prototypes. Intel launched its superconducting 49-qubit test chip at this year’s CES, and Google recently upped the qubit number to 72.

All the tech giants are striving for quantum leadership. For now, the U.S. maintains a clear lead. Unlike the mobile internet that could rise sharply with China’s demographic advantage, technological accumulation in quantum computing is a rather long process. It will not be an easy game for Chinese companies.

This article originally appeared in 36Kr and was translated by Pandaily.