Navy Works with University to Advance Major Computing Breakthrough

US Navy | Nov. 17, 2023

By Brianna Alexander, Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Corporate Communications

The Naval Engineering Education Consortium (NEEC), teamed with the University of California, Riverside (UCR), is helping further technological advancements by studying quantum computing.

UCR professors and students are using predictive quantum simulations to control electrons and qubits (the basic unit of memory) for quantum computers. In contrast to classical computers, quantum computers rely on quantum states to store data and perform some computations that classical computers cannot handle.

By studying interactions between electrons to control qubits, researchers will be able to solve significant mathematical problems and tasks that are currently difficult and/or impossible for existing computers and humans, according to NSWC Corona scientists Dr. Benny Cheng and Aaron Fogel.  

 “Quantum control algorithms enable us to control how a quantum computer operates,” said Dr. Bryan Wong, UCR professor, lead principal investigator, and supervisor of the graduate students in the study.  

By studying the use of quantum optimal control algorithms, researchers could possibly answer difficult problems in a much faster manner, he said.

 “This project supports the scientific training of graduate students in areas of interest to the Navy, while also gaining a deeper scientific understanding on controlling quantum systems that can enable next-generation computing,” said Wong.

Yuan Chen and Simon Sandhofer are the two graduate students UCR selected to set up algorithms to manipulate quantum systems for the project.

“We are approaching the limits of classical computers,” Chen said. “To advance further, we really need to understand and consider quantum effects.”

 “This new tool, with lots of unique paths to computing, can potentially help us solve previously difficult-to-solve problems, and allow Navy technology to have a much stronger computing base,” said Fogel.

Development in computation capabilities is crucial for advancements in today’s modern world, Sandhofer said. Researching these advanced computers and qubits will have considerable implications for the world and what is possible with technology, he added.

“Quantum control algorithms are important because they allow us to model and predict how a given quantum system will behave,” Sandhofer said. “This is an extremely important tool in designing quantum computers, because potential designs can be tested without having to go through the time-consuming, difficult, and expensive process of building them in the real world while maintaining the efficiency and accuracy of existing designs.”

 Although the study is in the early stages, Sandhofer said he is already seeing great progress in the trials.

“It’s been very rewarding seeing how accurate our algorithm is in terms of moving the electrons to where we requested,” he said. “This should, hopefully, result in some meaningful contributions to the fields of quantum simulation and control.”

Quantum computing is believed to be the next major breakthrough in the world, Chen said. With the help of NEEC, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and UCR, the U.S. could be at the forefront of quantum computing benefits allowing more resources to warfighters and helping NAVSEA continue to develop into a world-class naval engineering workforce.

NSWC Corona Division has provided analysis and assessment for the Navy since 1964. With experience in gauging the Navy’s warfighting capability, NSWC Corona is a leader in NAVSEA data analytics. Corona utilizes networked data environments, data and visualization, and measurement technology to bridge the Navy’s data silos, enabling informed decision-making for the warfighter. Anchor to the Inland Empire Tech Bridge, NSWC Corona is located in Norco, California, with detachments in Fallbrook and Seal Beach and personnel in 14 additional locations.