Accenture wins quantum computing–related patent

02 January 2019 3 min. read
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Global technology consulting firm Accenture was recently granted a US patent for a ‘multi-state quantum optimization engine.’ The technology leverages the increased processing power of quantum computing to optimize business decision-making.

Quantum computing uses the ability of subatomic particles to exist in more than one state at a time. In classical computing, a bit is a single info piece that exists as a binary 1 or 0; in quantum computing, info is known as quantum bits (qubits) and exists in multiple states at the same time. Breaching the traditional laws of physics, quantum computers can store enormous amounts of info and process info a million or more times faster than traditional processors.

As the world enters a big data environment, businesses need faster and more capable computing power to crunch the numbers to deliver dividends from all that information. The step-change in processing power and energy efficiency of quantum computing means that heavy hitters like Google and IBM are foremost in the race to deliver viable examples.

Technology consultancy Accenture has also been investing in the arena. In 2017, the firm strategically allied with quantum computing firm 1Qbit, and the pair collaborated with Biogen to develop an innovative quantum-enabled application to exponentially speed up drug discovery. Earlier this year, Accenture joined the IBM Q community of partners building quantum applications. In 2018, IBM announced that they had created a 50-qubit prototype computer, and look to be nearing quantum supremacy – i.e. the point where a quantum computer can solve a problem better than a classical supercomputer.

Accenture wins quantum computing-related patent

Accenture’s new patent (U.S. Patent No. 10,095,981) combines aspects of classical and quantum computing into an optimization engine that helps organizations identify optimal solutions to business problems through the concurrent running of multiple simulations. 

The hybrid-quantum solution can, for example, help drug companies speed up the treatment development process. Pharma companies potentially need to process millions of chemical formulations to find a breakthrough; Accenture’s solution can help companies explore exponentially more combinations and speed up the process.

Within supply chains, for example, the solution could help logisticians explore vastly more scenarios to find the optimal number of trucks and frequency of deliveries.

“We recognize the significant potential that quantum computing has to fundamentally disrupt how organizations across industries operate, and we’re committed to actively helping to shape the future for how it’s applied to create business value,” commented Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology & innovation officer. “Our quantum computing optimization engine patent is the latest example of how we’re strategically investing in and harnessing this technology to deliver tangible results.”

The patent for the quantum optimization engine was co-invented by Andy Fano, managing director at Accenture Labs; Dan Garrison, managing director at Accenture Digital; and Jurgen Weichenberger, managing director at Accenture Applied Intelligence.

Narendra Mulani, chief analytics officer, Accenture Applied Intelligence, further espoused the utility of the hybrid computing engine. “Integrating both classical and quantum computing devices could allow organizations to run simulations at a massive scale to determine best possible outcomes. It’s a truly visionary concept — clients can apply it to solving optimization tasks from a wide range of applications, such as machine learning, information security, pattern recognition, image analysis, and bioinformatics.”