AWS now offers a ‘quantum-powered’ random number generation service

Random numbers are in demand for a wide variety of use cases, from computer encryption to lotteries and gambling, as well as for scientific research.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace now offers a quantum computing-based random number generation service, developed by the Australian National University’s Quantum Numbers project (AQN).

AQN said the project, which has been operating out of ANU’s campus lab for the last 10 years, uses quantum technology to generate true random numbers in real time by measuring the quantum fluctuations of a vacuum.

How can it be used?

AQN researcher Dr Syed Assad said that the random number service can help meet users’ needs in “IT, data science and modeling” and that “you can’t have reliable models for forecasting and research simulation” without random numbers.

Assad also highlighted creative use cases for the quantum solution, saying the number can also be used by artists to “help with removing human biases from their creative work”.

“In computer gaming and smart contracts, true random numbers are also an indispensable resource,” said Assad. “We’ve even had a request from a father to generate random numbers that he then used as inspiration for his daughter’s name!”

AQN says it has received over two billion requests for random numbers from 70 countries since the project began, including clinical trials, simulating processes and events in computer games, generating secure passwords, simulating virus outbreak behaviors, and predicting the weather.

How does the service work?

AQN team leader Professor Ping Koy Lam said its use of lasers at the quantum level is what makes the solution distinct.

“Quantum physics practically provides an infinite source of truly random numbers,” said Professor Lam. “These quantum random numbers are guaranteed by the laws of physics to be unpredictable and unbiased.”

“This technology relies on the detection of vacuum. Vacuum is not a region of space that is completely empty and devoid of energy. In fact, it still contains noise at the quantum level.”

“Through AWS Marketplace, ANU is offering an incredibly powerful source of randomness easily accessible to customers across the globe.”

AWS Marketplace users can make 100 random number requests per second via the service, at a cost of $0.005 per request.

Amazon is not the only BigTech firm to keeping a foot in the quantum computing race, though. Alphabet has revealed it is spinning off its Palo Alto-based quantum technology group Sandbox into an independent firm.

Sandbox has been operating as a separate group outside the company’s moonshot division X for almost two years, having been launched in 2016.

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