IARPA in the News

The Economist

A computer proceeds one step at a time. At any particular moment, each of its bits—the binary digits it adds and subtracts to arrive at its conclusions—has a single, definite value: zero or one. At that moment the machine is in just one state, a particular mixture of zeros and ones. It can therefore perform only one calculation next. This puts a limit on its power. To increase that power, you have to make it work faster. But bits do not exist in the abstract. Each depends for its reality on the physical state of part of the computer’s processor or memory. And physical states, at the quantum level, are not as clear-cut as classical physics pretends. That leaves engineers a bit of wriggle room. By exploiting certain quantum effects they can create bits, known as qubits, that do not have a definite value, thus overcoming classical computing’s limits.

Around the world, small bands of such engineers have been working on this approach for decades. Using two particular quantum phenomena, called superposition and entanglement, they have created qubits and linked them together to make prototype machines that exist in many states simultaneously. Such quantum computers do not require an increase in speed for their power to increase. In principle, this could allow them to become far more powerful than any classical machine—and it now looks as if principle will soon be turned into practice....

Documents released by Edward Snowden, a whistleblower, revealed that the Penetrating Hard Targets programme of America’s National Security Agency was actively researching “if, and how, a cryptologically useful quantum computer can be built”. In May IARPA, the American government’s intelligence-research arm, issued a call for partners in its Logical Qubits programme, to make robust, error-free qubits.


Over the years there have been numerous stories highlighting the generally poor record so called experts have in predicting major events looming on the horizon. For the past few years a competition has been run by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) whereby university teams are invited to try and improve the art of forecasting major global events. One of the most successful entrants has been the team from Wharton. Barbara Mellers led the team and she believes their success is down to a number of factors....

International Relations and Security Network (ISN)

The aim of intelligence analysis is straightforward enough: to foresee emerging threats to the extent that one can prepare sufficiently in advance to either prevent or at least mitigate them. Research lies at the core of this enterprise in forecasting risk, whether via classified or unclassified data. But at a time when open source information is exponentially increasing in direct proportion to levels of uncertainty, how such foresight is conducted and by whom has become a key concern.

In 2011, the US government took a bold step in attempting to address those concerns. The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (or IARPA, a division of the Office of the Director of National intelligence) invested in a four-year exploration of the underpinnings of better foresight analysis. Known as the Aggregative Contingent Estimation (ACE) program, the initiative used a tournament originally consisting of five teams of forecasters to determine which individuals were most adept at forecasting future geopolitical outcomes and which traits shaped the best. Investigators and observers alike were surprised by the tournament’s results.

Executive Gov

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is inviting potential proposers on the Crowdsourcing Evidence, Argumentation, Thinking and Evaluation program to attend a Proposers’ Day conference on June 30.


WHAT: A plan to harness the crowd to improve evaluation and analysis.

WHY: The intelligence community is looking to improve its analytical capabilities via a new program called CREATE, short for Crowdsourcing Evidence, Argumentation, Thinking and Evaluation. CREATE is in its vague, pre-solicitation infancy, but basically the intelligence community's internal skunkworks IARPA is hoping to establish a structured method of assessing ideas across disciplines, forming arguments and counterarguments, and develop a platform for crowdsourcing the development and refining of arguments.


Quantum computing has taken a step closer with two recent announcements demonstrating methods for error correction in addition to a new scalable design for quantum circuits based on a lattice structure. The research, published earlier this month in the journal Nature Communications, lays out plans for overcoming some of the most significant technological roadblocks preventing quantum computing from reaching its full potential. The work at IBM was funded in part by the US IARPA (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity) multi-qubit-coherent-operations program.

American Institute of Physics

Quantum computers are in theory capable of simulating the interactions of molecules at a level of detail far beyond the capabilities of even the largest supercomputers today. Such simulations could revolutionize chemistry, biology and materials science, but the development of quantum computers has been limited by the ability to increase the number of quantum bits, or qubits, that encode, store and access large amounts of data.

In a paper published in the Journal of Applied Physics, a team of researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and Honeywell International have demonstrated a new device that allows more electrodes to be placed on a chip – an important step that could help increase qubit densities and bring us one step closer to a quantum computer that can simulate molecules or perform other algorithms of interest....

This work was funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).