(thanks to Quantum Pontiff’s blog for alerting me to this story)
The US government agency known as DARPA (also named ARPA at various times during its history) was founded in 1958, as a response to the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957. DARPA’s mission is to develop defense related technologies. Its current budget is about 3.2 billion dollars/year. More recently, an agency called IARPA was founded in 2006 to develop technologies that might be of use to the intelligence community (i.e., to spies). The budget of IARPA is classified, although it is thought to be smaller than that of DARPA.
IARPA’s website here. From their website, we learn that:
In the recent past, IARPA has held two solicitations, now closed, having to do with quantum computer hardware: (BAA=Broad Agency Announcement)
Advanced Material and Fabrication for Coherent Superconducting Qubits Program
BAA Release Date: July, 2008
BAA Second Announcement Date: March, 2009
Proposal Due Date: July 31, 2009
Multi-qubit Coherent Operations (MQCO) Program
Release Date: August 14, 2009
Proposal Due Date: October 13, 2009
Now IARPA seems to be mulling over a future program dedicated to quantum computer software. According to this page of their website, on December 17, 2009, IARPA will hold a so called Proposers’ Day for a future program called its Quantum Computer Science (QCS) Program, IARPA-BAA-10-02.
The goal of the QCS program is to develop “quantum programming environments, as well as tools for generating, analyzing and optimally selecting quantum error correction and control protocols.”
From the program number IARPA-BAA-10-02, one ventures to guess that proposals will be due sometime between the end of February and the “ides” of March, barring any unforseen delays or cancellation.
Up to now, quantum computer programming (not just pseudo-code but real code) has been largely neglected by federal funding agencies. As evidence of this, look at the Quantum Algorithm Zoo, or ask yourself how many conferences have been held to date, that were dedicated even partially to quantum computer programming: zero, compared to dozens dedicated to quantum complexity and hardware. This prejudice against software seems quite illogical, considering the fact that quantum computers will be useless without good software. Good software will no doubt play a major, fundamental role in the development of quantum computers, the same way that it has played a major, fundamental role in the development of personal computers and the Internet. I hope this QCS program is a sign that the attitude of federal funding agencies towards quantum computer programming has begun to change.