Fujitsu Advances Industrial Optimization with New University Professorship
- New chair at the Hamburg University of Technology for the study of industrial combinatorial optimization – the science of finding the best available solution to highly complex industrial and business challenges
- New modeling and algorithm-related research will improve new industrial optimization techniques to break through limitations currently holding back business and society
- Fujitsu is already working with customers across many sectors to solve combinatorial optimization challenges, leveraging its quantum-inspired Digital Annealer
Fujitsu’s aim for the 10-year endowment is to accelerate the transition to a more efficient world through advancing the science of optimization. TU Hamburg was a clear choice thanks to its interdisciplinary collaboration between the sciences, such as applied mathematics, applied computer science and engineering.
Fujitsu anticipates that research will accelerate the deployment of techniques that reduce resource depletion, improve businesses' ability to operate efficiently and make commercial and government service delivery more responsive to the public’s needs.
The computations needed to find solutions to industrial combinational optimization challenges are often so demanding that new forms of computer hardware – notably quantum computing – have been seen as necessary. Its Digital Annealer
drives Fujitsu’s interest in this field. Although this uses semiconductor-based hardware, it implements a special architecture and quantum-inspired algorithms to solve combinatorial optimization tasks across various real-world challenges – working with data sets that were previously too complex or too large to process within commercially reasonable timescales.
For example, in manufacturing, Fujitsu enabled a major global automotive OEM to optimize the path for its industrial robots, finding the best option from a choice of more than 10100
possible combinations. This number far exceeds the number of atoms assumed to exist in the universe1
. The Digital Annealer can perform the calculations for this optimization in near real-time, rather than days or weeks, allowing for the ‘always optimal’ rapid re-configuration of assets and the new agility to flex systems and processes according to circumstances.
Applications cross all sectors – commercial and public
The new professorship2
in Hamburg, Germany, will spur new application-oriented combinatorial optimization research – a topic that is becoming increasingly relevant across most sectors of the economy and public administration. Besides optimizing car manufacturing, the Digital Annealer's current applications include faster and more accurate drug discovery
, maximizing returns and minimizing risk
on financial portfolios, and minimizing capital
investment while optimizing customer service for utility companies
. The Digital Annealer also helps reduce carbon emissions and air pollution from traffic for urban authorities, logistics companies and mobility providers, and optimizing communication networks.
Fujitsu’s broader interest in endowing the TU Hamburg is to open a new talent development channel for its Digital Annealer services. As well as a new professorial chair, the endowment will also fund at least five other full-time research and support positions at TU Hamburg and expose the concepts and technologies to an expanding ecosystem of partners. Activities listed in the endowment agreement include joint research and development projects, a focus on basic scientific research, and the development of methods, protocols, processes and prototypes in the field of combinatorial optimization systems. Fujitsu has also agreed to offer industry-based internships and bachelor- or masters theses and doctoral dissertations under supervision from the TU Hamburg.
Dr. Joseph Reger, Fujitsu Fellow and CTO at Fujitsu Central and Eastern Europe, says: “Although it is not yet widely known outside of specialist circles, combinatorial optimization is among the mathematical techniques that will have the most significant impact on the way we live and work in the future. It has the potential to organize any process or system in a way that cuts out the log jams, removes the friction and dead wood, makes things simply better.
“Fujitsu believes that with the approaching advent of quantum computing, the time is right to leverage combinatorial optimization to expand the limits of complexity that IT can handle,” continues Reger. “There is no need to wait for quantum computers to do that. The hardware and software already exist to process massive combinatorial optimization challenges and we are doing that with our customers today. By endowing this new professorship at the Hamburg University of Technology, Fujitsu is accelerating the adoption of combinatorial optimization as a tool for business and society. We anticipate that the result will be a faster transition to a more efficient world, where we unlock the breakthroughs that will allow it to run better, using fewer resources.”
Professor Andreas Timm-Giel, Executive President of the Technical University of Hamburg, said: “In close collaboration between research and industry, the newly-endowed professorship will open up the research field of hardware-related combinatorial optimization. We envisage that the Technical University of Hamburg’s interdisciplinary research will develop into an application center for new computer architectures and quantum computing. It will also provide excellent training for the next generation of engineers. The collaboration between TU Hamburg, Fujitsu, and Dataport strengthens the research and development potential at our Hamburg location and provides a considerable innovation boost for digitalization. From basic research to application, we are creating real added value for society.”
Notes to editors
The number of atoms in the known universe is assumed as being 1022
The agreement with TU HAMBURG has been negotiated per the code of conduct of the German Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft e. V. for the establishment of endowed professorships by private sponsors and is in line with the university’s strategic goals to strengthen scientific progress and the education of young academics in the fields of computer science and digitization.
Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company, offering a full range of technology products, solutions, and services. Approximately 130,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702) reported consolidated revenues of 3.9 trillion yen (US$35 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020. For more information, please see www.fujitsu.com.
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Date: 13 October, 2020