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$7.5M Award Funds Research on Memory Architecture for Quantum Computers

By Melissa Brachfeld

A University of Maryland quantum computing expert is part of a multi-institutional team awarded $7.5 million by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research to understand and create a quantum computing counterpart to the random access memory, or RAM, that helps everyday computers operate.

Xiaodi Wu, an assistant professor of computer science with an appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, is researching quantum random access memory, or QRAM, in a five-year project with researchers from Yale University and the University of Chicago. Their work is funded by the Pentagon’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program.

Just as RAM is an essential component of classical computers—giving applications a place to store and access information on a short-term basis—QRAM will be an essential component of quantum computers. QRAM has the same basic components as RAM, but operates with qubits, or quantum bits, instead of classical bits, which store information in strings of zeros and ones.

Qubits, by constrast, take advantage of principle of superposition, in which quantum information can exist in multiples states, rather than as a zero or one. QRAM will able to hold quantum information in memory while in superposition, enabling the implementation of numerous quantum algorithms.

Wu, who is also a Fellow of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS), has been tasked with developing a hardware description language (for the digital design of quantum devices and demonstrating its use in the design of QRAM. He will also investigate the foundation of quantum data-structure and its applications.

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