Fujitsu partnership aims to solve problems related to Covid-19 with quantum-inspired technology

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Fujitsu has announced a partnership with Entanglement to demonstrate and validate the capabilities of its Digital Annealer (DA), a quantum-inspired computing platform to address large scale logistical combinatorial optimisation challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the beginning of the pandemic, provisioning Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to high demand areas continues to pose an enormous logistical challenge. Through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Department of Defense, Fujitsu and Entanglement offered to deliver a theoretical nationwide optimisation model to solve the challenge, optimizing the equitable resource allocation of the potentially available stock of PPE in the United States, while minimising the mileage and time travelled to emerging hotspots.

A report prepared by the CRADA validated that this highly complex, combinatorial challenge is solvable in seconds using a DA computing system, versus days or weeks for other traditional computing algorithms. In fact, one metric in the report – the efficiency of overall supply and demand allocation – showed the DA outperformed a comparative Evolutionary Algorithm by 90 per cent. Using real-time data from an array of public and private sources, Digital Annealer efficiency increases exponentially with the addition of diverse variables and larger datasets.

Jason Turner, CEO of Entanglement said: ‘Traditional logistics tools are simply too slow and incapable of managing the complexities of these huge combinatorial problems. Fujitsu's Digital Annealing technology and related services, in combination with our advanced computational and quantum computing expertise, not only solve these problems quickly, but do so in a way that is scalable, effective, iterative, equitable, and transparent.’

Fujitsu and Entanglement formed their partnership in May of 2020 based on their common core values, which together aim to deliver advanced technology ecosystems that assist in solving large-scale, human-centric problems for end-users.

Paul Warburton, global head of mobility DX business at Fujitsu stated: ‘While our initial collaborations centred on commercial prospects leveraging the emerging mobility ecosystem, the COVID-19 pandemic made it abundantly clear we needed to redeploy our conceptual thinking and quickly offer new models that accelerated our response to the virus.’

The DA system, related consultancy and professional services, together with the advanced research, experienced team and purpose-built laboratory capabilities from Entanglement, make the particular use case for PPE optimisation highly transferrable to a number of different applications in a variety of public and private sector endeavours. Fujitsu report that the quantum-inspired model is designed to tackle a variety of linear parallel processes including predictive modelling for financial markets and portfolio optimisation; supply chain logistics; transport and mobility; drug discovery; diagnosing, preventing and treating disease; predicting and preventing cyber threats; and modelling simulations.