Fujitsu drives quantum-inspired project to help solve NatWest's complex optimisation challenges
* NatWest is using Fujitsu's quantum-inspired Digital Annealer to solve highly complex financial risk problems.
* Technology helps optimise the bank's mix of high-quality liquid assets by comparing countless portfolio permutations, a traditionally manual task that is time-consuming and limited to few permutations.
* Fujitsu's Digital Annealer provides a more reliable, accurate and cost-effective solution to large-scale, time-critical optimisation challenges.
Fujitsu today announces details of a ground-breaking proof of concept (POC) project with NatWest for its quantum-inspired Digital Annealer technology. Fujitsu is helping the bank solve some of its most complex, challenging and time-consuming financial investment problems by optimising its mix of high-quality liquid assets including bonds, cash and government securities.
Financial institutions like NatWest face the continual challenge of creating and maintaining an optimally balanced portfolio of assets, selected from many thousands of options. Ideally, these incorporate a variety of liquid assets that deliver the maximum possible return while helping maintain risk at an acceptable level. While liquidity is of utmost importance to financial institutions, the process involved in calculating the best mix of assets is generally only undertaken infrequently. Traditionally, this is an extremely expensive and time-consuming manual task.
The Fujitsu Digital Annealer processes this type of complex scenario and provides results orders of magnitude faster than today's traditional computers. NatWest is now implementing quantum-inspired computing power, which has enabled its technology team to complete highly complex calculations at 300(1) times the speed of a traditional computer, with an even higher degree of accuracy.
In addition to performance improvements, the use of Fujitsu's Digital Annealer also reduces the risk of human error. NatWest can complete a comprehensive risk assessment for its portfolio much faster, as well as gaining access to a far wider range of results and permutations, therefore helping to ensure an optimised spread and reduced risk.
Quantum computing is considered by many to be the ultimate goal for computing sciences, but current quantum computers are limited in their capabilities. Not only are they complex, somewhat unreliable and error prone, they are also few and far between and extremely expensive to operate. Fujitsu's Digital Annealer represents the perfect bridge to true quantum computing, since it is adept at solving complex combinatorial problems accurately and reliably, and its current processing capability is constantly expanding(2) to address ever more complex problems and scenarios.
Digital Annealer available as cloud service from Fujitsu and 1Qbit
The Fujitsu Digital Annealer includes software developed in collaboration with 1QBit, a leading vendor of software for quantum and quantum-inspired computing.
The solution is now available as a cloud service. It is designed to address a wide variety of problems that traditional computing struggles with solving in a realistic time-frame. Scenarios include challenges faced by companies in a range of industries, such as the search for similarities in small molecules for drug discovery, optimising portfolios in finance, reducing production times for custom manufacturing, and optimising the arrangement of warehoused components for factories and logistics.
Fujitsu's Digital Annealer technology is also able to analyse complex data to help find new solutions to the challenges facing society at large, such as traffic congestion and planning for disaster recovery.
Joseph Reger, Fujitsu Fellow and CTO EMEIA at Fujitsu, comments: "We designed the Digital Annealer to solve real-world combinatorial optimisation problems that all industries are encountering. While quantum computing is still in its infancy, we've taken inspiration from its approach to offer our customers access to digital annealing, which is an advanced and powerful acceleration technology available today. Consequently, Fujitsu's Digital Annealer can solve laborious, complex problems in just a short time. What's more, this is just the beginning; there really is no limit to the scenarios that can be examined by digital annealing."
Kevin Hanley, Director of Innovation from NatWest, said: "We're really excited about the possibilities presented by quantum computing. Given our first application of quantum-like computing power has been so successful, we think the technology could be applied to many other calculations and problems the bank faces on a daily basis. In the long run, quantum-inspired computing could completely change the way banks operate, making them much more efficient and cheaper to run, which in turn would mean customers benefit from better deals and improved service."
(1) This figure is based on optimising an HQLA portfolio using both traditional techniques on a conventional cloud service and the Digital Annealer.
(2) Fujitsu plans to expand the full-scale links in the Digital Annealer from the current 1 024 bits to 8 192 bits, while increasing the precision from 16 bits to up to 64 bits. This will be achieved by developing a dedicated Digital Annealing processor, the Digital Annealing Unit (DAU), using Fujitsu's processor development technology and the latest cutting-edge CMOS technology. This will enable Fujitsu to develop applications to tackle larger-scale problems.
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