In Brief
The US Navy has put in a request budgeting $11 million for "D-Wave Training." It means quantum computing is coming to the high seas.

We may not be privy to the internal activities of the Navy. But this recently released quotation request for D-Wave Quantum Computing services proves that the naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces has leveled up its game in solving problems.

And the Navy is willing to shell out $11 million for the technology.

The request for a quote is reflected in the abstruse military jargon of the purchase order reproduced below:

U — D-Wave Training 101, 201, 301
Solicitation Number: N66001-16-T-7457
Agency: Department of the Navy
Office: Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command
Location: SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Pacific (SSC Pacific) intends to award a firm fixed price purchase order on a sole source basis to D-Wave (Government) Inc.. The requirement is for the purchase of the following items:

Line Item 0001: Training – D-Wave Quantum Annealer Computer System (D-Wav 101, 201, 301)
Acquisition of Commercial Items under FAR Part 12 and Simplified Acquisitions Procedures under FAR Part 13 apply. The applicable NAICS Code is 611420 and the size standard is $11,000,000.00.

Just how far will Quantum Computing take the Navy? Far and wide indeed. Quantum computing uses an entirely different approach than classical computing. One analogy is to look at a problem as a landscape with mountains and valleys.

To dramatize solving optimization problems, we can use an objective of trying to find the lowest point in this imaginary landscape.

d-wave_exterior
The D-Wave 2X quantum computer. Credit: D-Wave Systems

While classical computers would simply run classical algorithms to “walk over this landscape,” quantum computers would “tunnel through the landscape” making it faster to find the lowest point. What’s more, the D-Wave processor considers all the possibilities simultaneously.

The computer can return 10,000 very good answers in one second. This gives the Navy not only the optimal solution to a problem, but also other alternatives to choose from.

$11 million may be a lot of money. But with this information, it’s money well spent.