A Tale of Two Emails

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Fine, I am no Charles Dickens.

Earlier this month I received this email:

Professor Tayur:

I had the opportunity to work with you many years ago when you helped us with some education and supply chain planning consulting.

I am now the CEO of the company.

We shifted the focus to e-commerce several years ago and that has delivered significant growth and strong profitability. We have grown our product line and sources by several hundred percent and we face an ever more complicated supply chain planning challenge.

I was wondering if we could talk about this.

Glad to read about your continued success and appreciate anything you can do to advise us.

Sincerely,

And this one, just earlier today, that motivated this post:

Dear Professor Tayur, 

I received my Ph.D. in Physics specialized in Quantum Computing and Information from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign under the supervision of Anthony J Leggett (Nobel Laureate). 

Having never heard of him (I am not a physicist), I checked:

Sir Anthony James Leggett  is a theoretical physicist, and his pioneering work on superfluidity was recognized by the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Continuing the second email:

I studied your webpage and looked at some of your recent quantum computing papers. They look very interesting to me and very close to what I have been doing lately. I am interested in using quantum computers for solving practical problems. Recently, one of my collaborators and I used quantum annealers (D-Wave computers) for the industrially oriented problem of traffic reduction.

I am very interested to know if you have any open postdoc, or similar, positions. I have attached my CV below for your view.

Thank you.

Following up on the first email, I engaged with the CEO (and his senior staff), and we are in the process of creating a plan to modernize their manufacturing and supply chain to be at once sustainable and resilient. This is going to be fun. As I told them, here is how supply chain focus has changed in the past 20 years (and this article in Inc. just came out where I discuss pandemic era supply chain struggles as I was finalizing this post!):

2001: (Efficient + Responsive) Supply Chains

2021: (Sustainable + Resilient) Supply Chains

A couple days ago (Wednesday), I moderated a session (with panelists from DARPA, AFOSR and Office of Undersecretary of Defense) at PQI 2021 discussing Quantum (computing, sensing, materials, communications and so on), both basic research and “tech-transfer”, also called “lab to field”, or putting it in B-school terms, commercializing the research.

This morning, I attended a presentation by NETL (DOE), I was very excited to hear that an application focus is:

 De-carbonizing (“Sustainability”) solutions using quantum information science and computing!

This is driven by President Biden’s plan! Looking forward to learning more, and finding concrete applications (see my post Q-AHA: Quantum Algorithms, Hardware, Applications), and developing quantum computing methods that supports applied energy solutions to combat climate change!

I mentioned previously that Quantum Finance was sexy, even more so than Quantum Machine Learning. What can be even more sexy?

   Quantum Sustainability.

In supply chain transportation, a large focus is in reducing emissions (use of electric vehicles) and improving improving fuel efficiency (better tire pressure, for example) of current ones, and managing traffic. One of the important initiatives of the Biden administration is to put 50000 charging stations in our Interstate road system, and of-course, startups are building autonomous electric vehicles to deliver cargo. Lots of complex optimization problems to solve that might benefit from quantum?

What I am saying is:

Quantum Computing and Supply Chain Sustainability may actually have an overlap!

Who knows, a lover of Ferrari and McLaren (and Private Jets, see Slumming It?), may ironically land up contributing towards combating:

Climate Change. 🤷🏽‍♂️

Maybe I should get a doctoral student, post-doc or a visiting researcher (or all three!) to look into this stuff.

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