What prompted the idea of using quantum computers for industrial computed tomography?
Richard Schielein: At the Fraunhofer Development Center for X-ray Technology EZRT, we are working on industrial computed tomography in an application domain that has invariably been associated with innovative computing technology, such as mainframes with a high degree of parallelism. Enormous computing capacity is required to process large data volumes in a matter of seconds, then ensure they are available to reconstruct and optimize the measurement. In other words, the recalculation has to incorporate increasingly accurate physical models, over and over again. We soon realized that the quantum computer could usher in a new era – the era of quantum computed tomography. Further research is needed into how this can be achieved, however, which is what we are doing in the BayQS project.
What topics relating to computed tomography are you studying at BayQS?
Richard Schielein: X-ray technology issues include such points as how quantum-based image processing can be implemented as well as the question of how to apply known algorithms and whether using quantum computing really speeds them up. In a technology that is clearly still in its infancy and has to make do with just a few qubits, it’s crucial to develop a strategy that is as sound as possible. All of us here agree: that means starting with hybrid algorithms and a clear shift in thinking as to X-ray testing. Data is no longer processed and adapted locally on the system computer, but includes that produced by quantum computing. This calls for innovative data logistics.
Does the use of quantum computer technology for CT also require rethinking the process?
Richard Schielein: Absolutely. We’re looking at how data can be transmitted from a CT scanner to the quantum computer, how it will need to be prepared and subsequently restored. What quantum algorithms are suitable for CT, what physical models will need to be factored into the calculation and so on. To sum up, based on what we know today, qubits appear to offer tremendous potential. Nonetheless, over the next few years we will be joining forces with partners in industry and science in BayQS and our own research projects to discuss and investigate how they can be used effectively and what obstacles we will have to overcome to do so.