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Members of Togawa Laboratory
Prof. Nozomu Togawa
Professor, Department of Computer Science and Communications Engineering, School of Fundamental Science and
Engineering, Waseda University (Back row,
3rd from left)
My research areas are integrated circuit design (IC chip design technology), hardware
security, and a field of electrical engineering and computer science.
Our group conducts research on "application and system design" based on computer science and engineering
and information and communication sciences. Here, hardware, software, and services are integrated, with
keywords such as wearable devices, augmented reality (AR), geography and location information, machine
learning and deep learning, information security, IoT, environmental power generation, and quantum
In particular, we are actively engaged in "joint research between industry, government, and academia",
which is a distinctive feature of our research.
I started my research activities in the field of "integrated circuit design". Large-scale combinatorial
optimization operations," which are now a trend, were developed in the field of integrated circuit design. In
order to create high-performance integrated circuits, there has been a constant need since the 1990s to solve
optimization problems by computers, such as optimal placement of elements and gates, graph-based combinatorial
optimization, and algorithm development.
The field of integrated circuit design research can be divided into several layers.
I have been working in two of these layers: "system design using semiconductor devices (especially in the
area of FPGAs)" and "computer-aided design or electronic design automation (EDA)".
What triggered my involvement in the quantum computing field was a joint research project on semiconductors
with major Japanese electronics manufacturers.
At that time, these Japanese electronics manufacturers had already recognized quantum annealing as a
breakthrough technology for high-speed computation of combinatorial optimization problems; the race to develop
Ising machines began simultaneously.
In the course of our joint research, I began to explore the application of Ising machines and to research and
develop implementation techniques.
The major Japanese electronics manufacturers involved in Ising machine development were originally companies
that researched, developed, manufactured, and sold domestically produced personal computers.
There were many engineers within these companies who excelled in hardware development, and many of them must
have found a way to take advantage of the new technology and new field of quantum computers.
We feel the strong desire of these manufacturers to create products and businesses that outperform the rest of
Quantum computers use physical methods to manipulate quanta as computational elements, and quantum computer
researchers tend to be physics experts. In this community, there are few researchers from the EECS fields like
myself. I have had an interest from the beginning in exploring applications for quantum computers
and developing applications.
Without a background in physics, it is difficult to understand quantum computation theory, and the
hurdles to utilizing quantum computers would be. With Fixstars Amplify, even general information technology
engineers can easily develop applications.
With convenient tools and development environments such as Fixstars Amplify, I believe that the
future of quantum computer utilization technology will see more integration with different
For example, researchers from different fields have already begun to work together to conduct joint research
on quantum computer technology, and the influence of their research results is expanding.
I have conducted various joint research projects with private companies, other universities, and research
institutes using Fixstars Amplify. Here are some typical examples.
This is a national project which began in 2018 and involves many private companies, universities, and
research institutes, including Fixstars Corporation. In this joint research, Waseda University was the
representative of this project and I was the R&D leader.
The ultimate goal was to utilize the high-speed computation to solve "combinatorial
optimization problems" in various industries such as automobiles, logistics, finance, drug discovery,
and factory production management. However, at present, the high degree of difficulty in utilizing the Ising
machine was a major barrier, and in order to reduce this difficulty, we decided to first study a "common
software platform for Ising machines.” Fixstars Amplify is being used as a common software platform to
abstract a hardware layer of Ising machines developed by domestic and overseas companies and make them easier
I was the principal researcher and conducted joint research with Fixstars Corporation. This initiative is to
research and develop the infrastructure for societal implementation of a system that highly integrates real
and virtual space through next-generation accelerators to solve relevant problems in all industries.
Currently, various next-generation accelerators have been proposed. We have built a system architecture that
computing resources according to the characteristics of these accelerators.
In order to cope with the growing amount of data and complex computational processes resulting from the IoT
and DX, conventional computers will no longer be able to handle the growing amount of data and complex
computational processes. In recent years, research and development of "next-generation accelerators (quantum
annealing, Ising machines, NISQ devices, and error-tolerant quantum computers)" have progressed. However,
next-generation accelerators are not universally applicable to all problems, and are characterized by their
suitability or unsuitability depending on the scale and characteristics of the problem. In fact, there are
situations in which a conventional computer is more appropriate than a next-generation accelerator. In other
words, it is important to use different computing resources for different situations. For this reason, this
research introduced the concept of "co-design" (a mechanism for optimal allocation of computing resources),
which includes the hybrid use of next-generation and conventional accelerators.
Furthermore, the research results of the SIP were utilized in a logistics warehouse, and the system went into
actual operation in October 2022 as an automatic system*6 for optimal
allocation of personnel. In addition to the optimization of truck delivery routes, which will be discussed
later, the optimization of personnel allocation in warehouses is also considered an important means of
contributing to solving issues in the logistics industry, and is a theme of great social significance and
Research is being conducted with the goal of commercializing an efficient and optimized delivery planning
system by 2025.
Calculating truck delivery routes is extremely difficult with conventional computers and requires a long
calculation time as the scale of the problem increases, but Fixstars Amplify is expected to have the potential
to easily calculate these routes in a short timespan.
The logistics industry continues to grow with the expansion of internet services and mail-order businesses,
but at the same time, it has long faced issues of human resource shortages and overwork. In order to solve
this problem, the optimization of truck delivery routes is now attracting a great deal of attention.
Undergraduate and graduate students in my group use Fixstars Amplify.
Many of the students have only acquired programming skills in their courses and have not
necessarily studied quantum mechanics or quantum computers beforehand. Many students study combinatorial
optimization problems for the first time after being assigned to the group. They gradually learn how to
Fixstars Amplify with their tutors in their doctoral courses or by operating
it on their own while referring to the demos and documents*8 on the
Fixstars Amplify website.
Often, the students needed to run their combinatorial optimization programs all day long on Fixstars
Amplify Annealing Engine (AE). However, because there is no
pay-as-you-go system for any plan, I did not have to worry about costs, time limits, capacity limits, or
When using an annealing machine, it requires a high level of expertise in informatics and physics in general.
With Fixstars Amplify, however, the amount of expertise and work required is greatly reduced because
Fixstars Amplify handles many parts of the process to use an annealing machine automatically.
For example, research often involves trial and error, where the formulation of the problem and the execution
of the machine are repeated many times. Fixstars Amplify makes it possible to efficiently perform advanced
formulations and easily set parameters to maximize the performance of the machine. As a researcher, I really
appreciate the fact that we can streamline our research in this way.
Furthermore, we feel that Fixstars Amplify AE is most practical because of the large problem size
of QUBO that can be solved and the speed and accuracy of the quadrature solution. Another attractive feature
of Fixstars Amplify AE is its interface for retrieving information useful for research. This includes the
display of multiple solutions, along with the history of updates to the best solution in the solution search.
Fixstars Amplify is very helpful because it supports multiple machines, allowing us to utilize the same
combinatorial optimization program, but switch only the machines to be used.
Thus, when using Fixstars Amplify, the basic operation is relatively simple and the required programming
skills are not astronomical, so you can quickly become proficient in a short period of time.
I think Fixstars Amplify is attractive for many researchers since it is easy to incorporate into not
only long-term R&D projects, but also into basic studies such as student classes and graduation theses,
etc. I believe that cross-disciplinary research and studies using Fixstars Amplify will be further
advanced in the future. I will continue to work with Fixstars Amplify in research and education.
I would like to continue to use Fixstars Amplify in research and education to expand the possibilities of
application development using quantum computer technology in various industries and to contribute to solving
Through the results of the NEDO research project "Research and Development of a Common Software Platform for
Ising Machines "*4, Fixstars Amplify has grown into middleware that is
recognized as the de facto standard for the use of quantum computer technology in Japan. Many domestic Ising
machines, leading overseas quantum computers, and mathematical optimization solvers can now be easily used
with Fixstars Amplify, and the software is currently being used in a variety of applications.
It will be commonplace for vendors developing Ising machines and quantum computers to prepare drivers for
Fixstars Amplify in the future.
Currently, many vendors provide SDKs specific to their own machines, but in order to accelerate the
development of quantum computers by attracting a broad user base from various industries, there should be a
trend toward the need for middleware that connects and integrates all quantum computers around the world. I
believe that Fixstars Amplify will play a key role in this process.
*1 Combinatorial optimization problem
Combinatorial optimization problems are highly computationally demanding in various industries such as
manufacturing, logistics, and finance. It searches for the optimal combination for an objective among possible
combination patterns. For example, if we can calculate the optimal pattern for logistics transportation
planning or manufacturing planning, it will be useful for improving the efficiency of business activities and
predicting return on investment.
On the other hand, the more variables and conditions to be considered, the more rapidly the number of
combination patterns increases. As variables such as the number of vehicles and delivery destinations in truck
logistics, and constraints such as the amount of load capacity and availability of drivers, increase, the
calculation to find the optimal pattern becomes more difficult.
Examples: traveling salesman problem, production planning optimization, work shift optimization, route
*2 Ising Machine
An Ising machine is a computer specialized for solving approximate combinatorial optimization problems, also
known as an annealing machine.
Many combinatorial optimization problems can be converted into ground state search problems for the Ising
model, which is a mathematical model of magnetic materials. An Ising machine is a computer that finds an
approximate solution to this search problem.
And Ising machines are divided into two types. They are classical annealing machines (utilizing classical
computers and semiconductor CMOS integrated circuits) and quantum annealing machines (utilizing the principle
of quantum annealing).
*3 Conference presentation (Japan Society of Applied Physics): Structural Optimization of
Photonic Crystal Lasers by Quantum Annealing
https://www.waseda.jp/top/news/83121 (Note: Japanese only)
Presented at: The 83rd Japan Society of Applied Physics Autumn Meeting Lecture Number: 21a-A101-11 Date of
Author: Takuya Inoue, Yuya Seki, So Tanaka, Nozomu Togawa, Kenji Ishizaki, Susumu Noda
We applied quantum annealing to the structural optimization problem of a "photonic crystal laser," which is
expected to be widely used as a laser source for smart processing in the future, and obtained a device
structure with a nontrivial spatial distribution that is different from conventional designs. The obtained
structure was confirmed by calculations to have improved performance in all aspects compared to the
*4 NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization): Research
Development of AI Chip and Next-generation Computing Technology Enabling High-efficiency and High-speed
Processing>Research and Development Item 2: Development of Next-generation Computing Technology
https://www.nedo.go.jp/koubo/IT3_100063.html (Note: Japanese only)
*5 Strategic Innovation Program (SIP): Research projects
Optoelectronic information processing > 1. Research and development on next-generation accelerator
infrastructure > Adopted research theme: Research and development on co-design infrastructure integrating
(Note: Japanese only)
*6 Sumitomo Corporation Group: Automatic Personnel Optimization System in Operation at
Belle Maison Logistico's Logistics Warehouse (Application of SIP Research Results)
Fixstars' Case Study (Belle Maison Logisco): https://www.fixstars.com/ja/services/cases/amplify-bellemaison (Note: Japanese only)
*7 Sumitomo Electric Industries press release: Optimization of truck delivery routes for
(Note: Japanese only)
*8 Fixstars Amplify demo & tutorial, documentation
Demos & Tutorials
* All information in this article is based on information available at the time of the interview
Dr. Togawa is researching the use of quantum computers and Ising machines from the standpoint of
information engineering. We have heard that many "live" issues, including topics not introduced in this
article, are being gathered by Dr. Togawa through many industry-academia collaborative projects. The
hurdles to solving these issues are difficult, but I felt that clearing these hurdles will be the
touchstone for whether or not next-generation technologies will be truly useful.
As you can see from this interview, the Togawa laboratory is a heavy user and a big fan of Fixstars
Amplify. We will continue to expand our services to support their diverse research activities.
Interviewer: Takuji Hiraoka (President and CEO, Fixstars Amplify Corporation)
See all interview articles