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Research Scientist for Quantum Computing and Optimization in Mountain View, CA at Universities Space Research Association

Date Posted: 4/5/2018

Job Snapshot

Job Description

USRA’s Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science (RIACS) operates a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA’s Ames Research Center that conducts strategic multi-disciplinary, integrative research and science that supports NASA’s long-term mission requirements.  Research focuses on testing and evaluating emerging quantum hardware, investigations of quantum mechanisms that may be used to provide a quantum advantage, development of new algorithms and software for quantum computing, and application of quantum computing to a range of real-world problems involving planning and scheduling, machine learning, and fault diagnostics.  The team works in partnership with a number of organizations from academia, industry and the U.S. Government.

Position Summary:

The Research Scientist for Quantum Computing will design experiments to run on emerging hardware to give insights into quantum approaches to problems of interest to NASA and other partners from the U.S. Government, academia and industry.  The researcher explores the robustness of the hardware, develops best practice programming techniques for quantum hardware, and illuminates the inner workings to better understand the mechanisms that can be used to provide a quantum computational advantage.  Example research problems include:

  • Follow, understand and review the technological developments in the sector of quantum computing, and related tangential domains, including the emergence of other post-moore computing platforms.
  • Develop new analytical, or experimental, or numerical techniques to better analyze realistic quantum computational paradigms.
  • Develop, and test applications of quantum computing for specific sponsor problems such as those involving planning and scheduling of unmanned aerial systems and autonomous mobile robots, data analysis, and a number of other partner problems in the domain of optimization and machine learning


Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Design, run, and analyze application-specific experiments on near-term quantum hardware, including quantum annealers and gate-model chips, and quantum simulators. Potential applications include optimization for robust network design, resource allocation, planning & scheduling, fault diagnosis, and machine learning
  • Potential applications include optimization for robust network design, resource allocation, fault diagnosis, and machine learning.
  • Design appropriate benchmarking approaches with application related problem sets.
  • Contribute to the development of a software platform that enable the most effective use of near-term quantum hardware, including programming middleware, such as mapping, embedding, circuit compilation, parameter setting, in both quantum annealers and gate-model quantum processors.
  • Perform experiments and analyses that elucidate quantum mechanisms that can be harnesses for quantum advantage or greater robustness, with an eye to improved quantum algorithm design.
  • Identify and run appropriate classical (non-quantum) algorithms for comparison.
  • Contribute technical content to research proposals, research publications, technical briefings, and white papers.

Other job related duties as assigned

Required Qualifications:

  • 0 to three years of Postdoctoral work and publication experience in the field of Quantum Physics, or Applied Mathematics, or Applied Computer Science  
  • A strong track record of research success as evidenced by publishing related work in peer reviewed journals, and contributing to obtaining new funding in the areas above.
  • Excellent organizational and communication skills.


  • Ph.D. degree in Physics, Computer Science, Mathematics, or Computer Engineering  

Desired Experience:  

  • Experience developing numerical models and algorithms
  • Experience designing, running and analyzing application-specific experiments on quantum hardware
  • Experience building tools that enable effective use of near-term quantum hardware
  • Experience with optimization and/or machine learning methods


Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:  

  • Ability to work independently and effectively as part of a multidisciplinary team.
  • Ability to prioritize tasks, coordinates work of others, and meets multiple deadlines.



  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office or similar and its applications.
  • Understanding of the near-term hardware platforms of quantum computing, specifically superconducting-qubit based chips

Working Conditions:

This job operates in a professional office environment. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, etc. This is largely a sedentary role.


Minimal travel.

Applicants should apply to the posting at and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita.  Review of candidates will begin immediately.  Additional information on USRA can be found at

USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Females/Protected Veterans/Disabled/Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity


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