PennyLane Open Source QML Creator Gets DARPA Grant

Xanadu, which describes itself as a "full-stack" quantum computing and AI company, and is the developer of the open source PennyLane quantum machine learning (QML) software, recently received a grant from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to continue its research in the QML space.

PennyLane is a Python-based library design to help users connect quantum hardware from vendors like IBM, Microsoft, Xanadu, Rigetti and Google to machine learning libraries including PyTorch and TensorFlow. "This seamless integration will enable Xanadu researchers to systematically explore the performance of a variety of near-term QML algorithms on multiple hardware devices," the company states. It is currently in version 0.7

Some features of PennyLane include support for both classical and hybrid quantum models, automatic differentiation of quantum circuits, and plug-ins for Google Cirq, Rigetti Forest, Strawberry Fields, Microsoft QDK and ProjectQ.

PennyLane has been in development since 2017. More features of the software can be found here. The company also plans to launch cloud-based access to its own hardware.

The amount of the DARPA grant was not provided. Xanadu said it will carry out the research funded by the grant over the next year. "Xanadu's team has been at the forefront of cutting-edge QML research, implementing several world firsts in quantum software and delivering several signature papers in the field over the past two years," commented Christian Weedbrook, the company's founder and CEO, in a prepared statement. "This award recognizes that strength and enables us to continue pushing the area of QML forward, towards eventual applications in a wide range of industries."

In June the company raised $32 million in Series A financing to focus on the progress of its quantum platform, which takes a "quantum optical approach," the company said. "Strawberry Fields will provide the main access point for Xanadu's unique photonic quantum computers, as well as a suite of special-purpose quantum simulators," it explained.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Converge360 Group, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital projects at the company, including launching and running the group's popular virtual summit and Coffee talk series . She an experienced tech journalist (20 years), and before her current position, was the editorial director of the group's sites. A few years ago she gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web browser technology would impact online advertising for publishers. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.