Are we ready for the Quantum “App Store”? Could plug and play Quantum Algorithms be the future of Quantum Development?

Apple and its App store reignited excitement around software applications for its products – making it seamless to install and manage applications. On the dominant windows platform, there was a much messier affair with each program having in effect a unique installation and management method. Apple standardized the way that developers discovered and managed the application space. Application management is commonplace on the Linux platforms, but Apple made it mainstream. Certainly, standardization can be good for the consumer. Could such an approach help in the adoption of Quantum Computing?

A recent announcement from CogniFrame of the public beta of its FirstQ Store; the aggregator plug and play commercialization store for near quantum and quantum ready applications has got us thinking about the Quantum Ecosystem.

FirstQ – The first “App Store” for Quantum Applications?

This patent-pending aggregator quantum from FirstQ store consists of a desktop application that works on Windows, Mac and Linux. The store supports plug-and-play commercial-scale solutions for a select few pre-defined use cases and access to near quantum and quantum hardware.

Clients can access solutions for the pre-defined use cases via the desktop app based on user profile and upload data and receive results for the selected use cases all from within the secure desktop app. Developers can use the app to submit QUBO’s or circuits and access the quantum hardware and build and test applications.

The users of the platform can then view the status of their jobs continually and results are available for download from within the desktop app. Through a collaboration with Toshiba Digital Solutions Corporation, CogniFrame are commercializing several existing Near Quantum Solutions on Toshiba’s Simulated Bifurcation Machine (SBM).

“We are excited to support the first real commercialization of quantum inspired applications using Toshiba’s SBM”

Mr. Shunsuke Okada, Director, Toshiba Digital Solutions Corporation

Quantum EcoSystem and Quantum Middle Ware

Whatever the technology or technologies that become dominant (Ion Trap, Photonics etc) and whoever those companies are, one trend that surely won’t change is the need for an ecosystem that supports the portability of code across myriad devices. Much as cloud computing has opened up the door for infrastructure as a service, the same could be said for quantum space. There will need to be an intermediary layer in the stack that allows quantum applications to run without excessive worry about the actual implementation.

The Quantum Stack (Image from QuTech). Could a marketplace for Quantum Applications be layered on top of the existing Quantum Stack?

We now have multiple players in this space, including the likes of AWS (Amazon Web Services) with their Braket Service which aims to allow users to run on multiple hardware vendors. The same with Strangeworks which also aims to democratize the deployment of quantum circuits when it comes to hardware. There are other providers too and we can see this as a trend. Riverlane are building an Operating System named Deltaflow.OS which of course operates at a lower level than the application layer. To summarise, there are many entrants in the “middleware” space which are aimed at getting users on board with their tools and providing ever-expanding services to those users as their needs grow, and right at the top of that stack is the Application Store or App Store, which could enable users to get a quick jumping-off point to explore quantum computing, much as the Apple App Store offers applications. Perhaps the classical equivalent is Data Robot, which attempts to automate machine learning with a whole host of models under the hood that enable users to drive results without having to deploy machine learning frameworks or code.

But is this just fanciful marketing and bluff or will a field as complex and technical as Quantum Computing be reduced simply to plug-and-play or downloading applications? We’re not quite convinced… yet. The OS level and Middle Ware are crucial, but so far we are not seeing too many “turn the handle” type problems that would apply at the application level. The whole industry is developing use-cases and steadfastly exploring, and therefore feels a little too early for “Quantum App Stores”. That said, innovation is good and making QC friendly cannot hurt if it gets early feedback into the system. The jury is still out if pre-built quantum applications can be readily adapted to a large range of users to make a significant business case. Nonetheless, as we state, it can only result in feedback – as we think the sheer specificity of the typical problems out there means a one size fits all approach isn’t going to be an easy sell, but we hope we are wrong, as the field could do with more use cases that more easily transition users to quantum. We have also signed up to the service to explore more of the system so that we can perform a more thorough review.

“It also solves one of the biggest challenges for Quantum Start Ups – how to make money from their innovation”

Vish Ramakrishnan, CEO CogniFrame

Might innovation be spurred by the possible commercialisation of Quantum Applications? If developers feel that there is an ecosystem or marketplace to sell their ideas, will that spur more into the quantum arena? We certainly hope-so. Just as with the classical App store markets, that saw a whole industry emerge to create new applications for the Apple iphone. Could we see Quantum Application developers building Quantum apps in their bedrooms being used by industry?

More About CogniFrame

CogniFrame is based in Toronto, Canada, solves NP-Hard and other optimization, machine learning and simulation problems. Working with leading HPC and Quantum hardware providers CongniFrame builds and runs proprietary algorithms and solutions focused on Near Quantum & Hybrid Quantum globally. CogniFrame is a member of Quantum Industry Canada.