The IEC and ISO have set up a working group (WG 14) in their joint technical committee (JTC1) to identify the standardization needs of quantum computing.
It is hoped that their work can support the evolution of quantum computing by providing a foundation of already defined systems and processes. Such a foundation would enable developers to focus their attention on the higher-level challenges, rather than starting their projects from scratch.
e-tech spoke to Hong Yang, who is the director of the Network Technology Research Department of the China Electronics and Standardization Institute (CESI). She also chairs WG 14.
e-tech: What are the main goals of WG14?
HY: First of all WG 14 should fulfill the terms of reference which is approved inside JTC 1, to act as a system integration entity inside JTC 1，to maintain relations with other organizations, whether within JTC 1 or not, and to identify gaps and opportunities in the field of quantum computing standardization.
WG 14 is also keen to provide a worldwide collaboration platform for the quantum computing industry, including academic organizations and high-tech institutes, as well as companies.
e-tech: What are your other goals?
HY: To get more demands or requirements for quantum computing. We hope to push the growing consensus of opinion on quantum computing from all over the world. Essentially, in WG 14 we are trying to promote the development of industrialization.
e-tech: Quantum computing is still in its infancy as a technology. Why are you taking this step now?
HY: Quantum computing industry is truly in its early stage. Companies are working on the exploratory stage of quantum computer. Quantum bits are still difficult to control and keep stable. In terms of software or algorithms, both universities and academic organizations have been working on this for many years.
Regarding standardization, after a period of research inside ISO/IEC JTC 1, experts believe that it is necessary and possible to have a unified understanding of the terminology and vocabulary for the future of this emerging technology. From my personal perspective, I believe this is in accordance with IEC Master Plan, which states that “The IEC will strengthen its capacity to identify and respond to emerging (and potentially disruptive) technology developments, as well as to market and social trends ”.
e-tech: How long is it likely to take before we see the first international standards for quantum computing?
HY: The new work item proposal, named “Information technology-Quantum computing-terminology and vocabulary”, is registered for 24 months, so probably two years later, in 2022, the international standard will be published. We are looking forward to seeing that.