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4 March, 2021 - 15:40 By Tony Quested

Cambridge quantum computing pioneer breaks new ground

Cambridge Quantum Computing has published a research paper on the online pre-print repository arXiv that provides details of the largest ever experimental implementation of Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks on a quantum computer.

ArXiv is a free distribution service and an open-access archive for 1,845,477 scholarly articles in the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering and systems science, and economics. 

The CQC paper presents the first medium-scale implementation of common NLP tasks. Completed on an IBM quantum computer, the experiment, which instantiated sentences as parameterised quantum circuits, embeds word meanings as quantum states which are ‘entangled’ according to the grammatical structure of the sentence.

The paper builds on prior proof-of-concept work and achieves convergence for the far larger datasets that are employed in the space. One of the objectives of the CQC team is to describe Quantum Natural Language Processing (QNLP) and their results in a way that is accessible to NLP researchers and practitioners – paving the way for the NLP community to engage with a quantum encoding of language processing.

Bob Coecke, CQC’s Chief Scientist and also the Head of CQC’s QNLP project, commented, “We are working on an immensely ambitious project at CQC that is aimed at utilising quantum computers, as they scale, to move beyond expensive black-box mechanisms for NLP to a paradigm where we become more effective, more accurate and more scalable in an area of computer science that epitomises artificial intelligence. 

“Having made considerable progress already on our ‘quantum-native’ brand of compositional NLP, we are now moving beyond our initial research and working on applications that can be developed in synch with timelines provided by quantum computing hardware companies such as IBM, Honeywell, Google and others.”

Coecke added: “Equally, at a time when quantum computing is becoming a topic of general interest it is imperative that those of us who are working within this sector provide results that are verifiable. Our record of publication at CQC strives at all times to meet these exacting standards – we are science led and enterprise driven.”

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