Ising Processing Units: Potential and Challenges for Discrete Optimization


The recent emergence of novel computational devices, such as adiabatic quantum computers, CMOS annealers, and optical parametric oscillators, presents new opportunities for hybrid-optimization algorithms that leverage these kinds of specialized hardware. In this work, we propose the idea of an Ising processing unit as a computational abstraction for these emerging tools. Challenges involved in using and benchmarking these devices are presented, and open-source software tools are proposed to address some of these challenges. The proposed benchmarking tools and methodology are demonstrated by conducting a baseline study of established solution methods to a D-Wave 2X adiabatic quantum computer, one example of a commercially available Ising processing unit.