Quantum Computing Coming to Wall Street


Quantum computing’s eventual Wall Street debut likely will fuel a market advantage that has not seen since the early days of high-frequency trading, according to experts.

“It is going to repeat itself in finance,” said William Hurley, managing director at Goldman Sachs, who keynoted the Open Source Strategy Forum yesterday.

The maturing computer science has the potential of making billions of calculations in the time it takes classical computers to make three or four similar calculations, he noted.

“We do not know what the speed difference is,” said Hurley. “We just know that it exponentially greater than classical computing.”

The challenge for the financial services industry is the dearth of experts who understand the nascent technology.

Tech giants IBM, Microsoft, and Google each have marked significant milestones in quantum computing development in the past few quarters.

In March, IBM launched its IBM Q initiative to build universal quantum computing systems for business and science applications in March, a year after it first offered public access to its quantum processors.

During its Ignite tech conference in September, Microsoft released plans for a new programming language that will help developers build and debug applications running on quantum simulators and should be available for a free preview by the end of the year, according to company officials.

More recently, Google and startup partner Rigetti Computing published OpenFermion, a platform that helps simulate interactions between electrons on a quantum computer last month. According to trade publications, the platform allows programmers translate chemistry and material science problems into a format that quantum computers can run.

Hurley expects that this momentum will be a good thing for the quantum computing community. “What you should see by the end of the year is massive cooperation between these tech giants in the space of open source,” he said.

Although there are some open source projects focused on quantum computing like ProjectQ on GitHub, it can be a challenging to have those who are familiar with the technology participate, according to Hurley. “This technology is a hard science, and a lot of scientists do not understand do not understand open source software,” he explained.

Despite the dearth of quantum computing experts, Wall Street is actively exploring the technology with such tech-oriented hedge funds like Renaissance Technologies, Two Sigma, and The D.E. Shaw Group reportedly experimenting with the technology.

Hurley does not see too many quantum computing open source projects tailored for financial services just yet but by this time next year “there will already be a lot.”

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