Nearly everybody has heard of – and many people have patronized – the Amazon company, owned by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos. Amazon is a multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington that focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming and artificial intelligence, making it one of the Big Five companies in the US information technology industry, along with Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook, and it is known as one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world.
One of its subsidiaries is Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides on-demand cloud computing platforms especially data storage and computing power without direct active management by the user and Application Programming Interface (APIs), software intermediaries that enabled two individuals, companies and even governments to talk to each other on a metered pay-as-you-go basis.
Amazon markets AWS to subscribers as a way of obtaining large scale computing capacity more quickly and cheaply than building an actual physical server “farm.”
Now, the AWS and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) have announced the first agreement between the important Amazon subsidiary an Israeli academic institution.
About 16 months ago, AWS announced the start of its quantum computing initiatives that include a cloud-based quantum computing service Amazon Braket, the Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab to help businesses explore quantum applications and the AWS Center for Quantum Computing research and development organization.
Based on California Institute of Technology’s campus, AWS’s Center for Quantum Computing brings together quantum computing researchers and engineers to accelerate development of quantum computing algorithms and hardware. The AWS’s efforts include collaborations with universities for sponsored research in cutting-edge domains.
The latest of these collaborations is funding a team of researchers HUJI’s Quantum Information Science Center (QISC) and Racah Institute of Physics to advance the understanding of quantum gates – fundamental building blocks of quantum computers. HUJI’s Prof. Alex Retzker will lead the research group as part of his role as a principal research scientist at AWS.
Yissum, HUJI’s technology transfer and commercialization company, is coordinating this process. The choice of Retzker and his team, said the university, “reflects the strong track record of rigorous research in the field of quantum computing done at HUJI.”
The university’s faculty quickly realized that the field of quantum information is one of the key areas in the world of science and technology in the 21st century. As early as a decade ago, it took up the challenge and opened the QISC, where the leading academic minds are currently working to promote research in this field. QISC members include its director, Profs. Nadav Katz at the Racah Institute of Physics, Elon Lindenstrauss, the first Israeli recipient of the prestigious Fields Medal for mathematics, the late. Yaakov Bankstein and Raphael Levine – both winners of the Wolf Prize (considered Israel’s Nobel Prize): Rothschild Mathematics Prize laureate Gil Kalai, Dorit Aharonov and Michael Ben-Or at HUJI’s School of Computer Science and Engineering.
“This is an ambitious project to forge new theory aimed at helping the world realize a scalable, universal quantum computer more quickly,” said Katz. “Our goal is to promote entrepreneurship, as well as basic research, involving quantum technology – and the work of Prof. Retzker and his students with the AWS Center for Quantum Computing is a wonderful example of emerging cooperation in this field.”
“We are at a unique moment in the history of science, when abstract theoretical ideas can progress quickly to become pragmatic technology accessible through on-demand cloud services, with potentially enormous impact on human society over time,” concluded Retzker. “It is my great privilege to be part of this process.”