From November 11 to November 18, 2022, explorers from around the globe went on a quantum journey to outer space, investigating real-life applications of quantum computers using the latest Qiskit and Qiskit Runtime tools.
The IBM Quantum Challenge is a recurring virtual event that introduces learners to quantum computing through themed exercises run on real quantum hardware. Participants were able to earn badges, from foundational to advanced, based on the number of challenge exercises successfully completed, motivating them to continue their quantum journey.
This year’s challenge asked participants to imagine themselves as captains of a faster-than-light starship. Through solving problems encountered in their travels, they learned the fundamentals of Qiskit Runtime primitives and how to use Qiskit Runtime for applications in the fields of machine learning, optimization, and chemistry.
Users from 96 countries registered to participate. While many had not previously encountered Qiskit Runtime or the Qiskit Runtime primitive programs, more than 1,600 active participants were able to make at least one submission, and 594 participants completed all four challenge exercises. The participants ran more than 4.4 billion circuit executions on two dedicated 7-qubit quantum processors using Qiskit Runtime.
More than 1,600 participants from 96 countries ran 4.4+ billion circuits in the IBM Quantum Challenge Fall 2022.
Following the example of the IBM Quantum Challenge Fall 2021, this year’s fall Challenge incorporated Qiskit Runtime, the Qiskit Runtime primitive programs, and the Qiskit application modules into all of its exercises. Qiskit Runtime is a quantum computing paradigm that lets users run quantum programs in a containerized execution environment. Qiskit Runtime makes it easier than ever to orchestrate programs requiring many quantum circuits across classical and quantum hardware.
Meanwhile, Qiskit Runtime primitives abstract away details of the computation so users can get exactly the results they need for their applications, such as expectation values or the quasiprobabilities of a circuit’s possible outcomes, for use in modules like Qiskit Machine Learning, Qiskit Optimization, and Qiskit Nature.
The first lab introduced the Qiskit Runtime primitive programs and how to run jobs with Qiskit Runtime. It incorporated error mitigation techniques and the sessions framework to use on noisy simulators and real backends. Participants then used the Sampler primitive for a machine learning problem in the second lab, and Estimator plus a new VQE class for chemistry in the third and fourth labs.
As with previous quantum challenges, the final lab featured a final challenge to produce the most efficient quantum circuits. Participants had to design the whole approach to compute the reaction energy of the formation of the interstellar molecule Cyclopropenylidene1 in order to get the lowest possible score. You can see the final scores, here.
Growing and nurturing the quantum community is a central goal of the IBM Quantum Challenge. We welcomed participants with a range of skill levels, from newcomers to veterans, and from high schoolers to industry professionals They received mentorship support from 64 The Qiskit advocate program is a global program that provides support to the individuals who actively contribute to the Qiskit Community. Learn how to join the program.Qiskit Advocates and other quantum enthusiasts, both at IBM and beyond. These mentors tested and graded exercises, and answered questions — they’re the reason the challenge ran smoothly.
Participants from our ongoing Quantum Explorers Program were able to apply their learned knowledge from the course on these labs as well. More than 200 Explorers completed at least one lab, more than 130 Explorers completed all four labs, and 80% of the explorers who participated in the challenge felt participating in the Quantum Explorers program helped them tackle the IBM Quantum Challenge!
We’re also hearing positive feedback from challenge participants, who appreciated the space-themed storyline and have an eye toward real-world applications as a way to approach cutting-edge software tools.
And for those looking for more problems to tackle, this year’s challenge was designed to introduce much of the tooling required for this year’s Open Science Prize. Learn more about the IBM Quantum Awards: Open Science Prize.
Thanks again to all of the participants and mentors. We hope you’ll continue your quantum journey with us into the future — and perhaps even to the stars!