We are often asked why is getting multiple answers with quantum a good thing? Here’s the scoop about how quantum helps you improve decisions.
Would one answer be enough if you had to decide how to get 4 kids to different schools, dog to day care, pick up groceries, go to gym, run to pharmacy, pick up dry cleaning and wash the car? Probably not. You’d know there were options.
The above is a simple constrained optimization problem, similar to supply chain and logistical problems, but on a much smaller scale.
It’s obvious that there is one choice that is the absolute best math projection for the most efficient routing for your chores. There is at least one best route for your chores but there are likely other routes that are very nearly as efficient.
It’s like when a mapper tells you to go one route for best time, but you know that a certain street is a pain to turn left due to a light that’s been acting strangely, so you avoid it.
The mapper doesn’t take into account that light since it’s not a widely known issue. But you change the route based on your current situation.
The same is true of our traditional approach to solving constrained optimization problems for our businesses. There can and usually will be more than one good answer to optimize the situation. That’s where quantum and its ability to deliver multiple, diverse results comes in.
Why One Answer Isn’t Good Enough
The software that’s traditionally been used to find the most optimum answer, or solvers, are designed to only return one answer. The optimum result that solves the problem in the best possible fashion.
Part of the reason for that is that traditionally, mathematicians will argue that only the best answer(s) to the problem are of interest. That worked well when our world was less dynamic, when our problems were not as complex and when we could run the solver software and get relatively fast responses.
It still works well. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best approach for your business. Not in today’s dynamic, change by the minute global market.
From the minute you submit a problem to the time you get your results, your situation can change, and change again. Some situational changes may not be represented in the constraints and objectives you applied to the problem in the first place.
Plus, the mathematical difference between the best and next 4 options may be so slight you would not know the difference, yet option 3 may be much easier for you to implement, or option 4 may apply due to a situational change.
Why settle for one? Well, maybe it’s because that’s the way we’ve always done it.
How Quantum Gives You More
Quantum computers, by their nature, improve both accuracy and diversity of answers they provide. Our own Qatalyst quantum optimization service has been proven by Los Alamos National Labs to provide just those advantages on classical machines as well.
When you have multiple, more accurate answers, you have better insights into the options for your business. That may not mean a lot in conceptual terms, so let’s think of as applied to business.
Let’s say you’re seeking the optimum way to load your trucks with orders to get them dispatched so that your customers receive their deliveries within 24 hours of order placement. That’s a huge demand for retailers in today’s market.
Let’s now assume that late deliveries currently cost you $30M a year in lost customers. These late deliveries may be a result of things like;
- Less than optimal results that didn’t exactly match the current situation,
- The inability to solve the large problem with a classical machine or,
- Your teams’ requirement to massage the single answer to force it to meet diverse situations in real time., resulting in errors.
Now imagine that having more accurate and a diversity of answers that solve the problem can save just 20% of that $30M annual loss. (BTW, we know it’s more than 20%, but we are going for small gains to demonstrate the true value.)
Saving 20% means you save $6M in revenue every year. And you keep the customers that you would lose who are associated with that revenue. Which means you get even more revenue from them because they stay with you – since you made your deliveries,
Is +$6M worth of additional revenue plus saving who knows how many customers worth a fresh look at the way you’ve always done it? If yes, then check out what you can do with quantum diversity, even on classical machines.
The Bottom Line
Just because we’ve always settled for one answer as being the only possible best answer, that doesn’t mean it’s really the best approach.
Just as quantum computing forces us to change every way we think about computing, it also gives us the opportunity to rethink our assumptions about all the classical things we have accepted as the only way.
What a great opportunity to optimize our thinking, as well as our businesses. Thanks to quantum, we don’t have to settle anymore!