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Technology Supercomputing Hardware

Opening Quantum Computing To the Public 191

director_mr writes "Tom's Hardware is running a story with an interesting description of a 28-qubit quantum computer that was developed by D-Wave Systems. They intend to open up use of their quantum computer to the public. It is particularly good at pattern recognition, it operates at 10 milliKelvin, and it is shielded to limit electromagnetic interference to one nanotesla in three dimensions across the whole chip. Could this be the first successful commercial quantum computer?"
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Opening Quantum Computing To the Public

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  • How does it work? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @09:37AM (#24357383)

    Can someone post a link that describes the benefits of a quantum architecture and how software can be written to take advantage of them?

    And by "benefits", I don't mean hype.

  • by samurphy21 ( 193736 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @10:08AM (#24357589) Homepage

    By the same token, you could have performed calculations easier on a slide rule than on the first binary computers built. I think the point of this is proof-of-concept of a new technology rather than this particular unit taking over for modern systems.

    If no one had bothered to use, abuse, and continue to develop binary computers half a century ago, then we'd still be using abacus and slide rule to perform all our calculations.

  • by MrNaz ( 730548 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @10:28AM (#24357761) Homepage

    Not that I'm passing comment either way, as I don't know, but:

    "acting like they have something to hide"

    Something like intellectual property?

  • by Hojima ( 1228978 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @11:13AM (#24358065)

    Your statement is ironically close to the truth. Quantum computers actually function in parallel to conventional devices when it comes to the simple tasks that they perform, such as rendering intricate scenes, or estimating series values. What quantum computers are better at is taking advantage of quantum effects to exponentially outperform conventional computers at things such as factoring immense integers. They will most likely be used for decryption and quantum simulations, or other mathematically novel applications. In other words, it benefits businesses and scientists the most. They will most likely have commercial value in the future, but that is when they develop more uses for it, such as emulating the human mind to make ultra-realistic (if not realistic) AI. At the moment however, it is still in the computer equivalent stage of useless behemoth. Someone in some field will most likely make a huge discovery similar to the silicon transistors of the past, win a Nobel prize, and set the stage for a new revolution. Feels like a long way from now, but I'll probably be proved wrong.

  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Sunday July 27, 2008 @11:31AM (#24358207)


    You state that you work for the Institute for Quantum Computing" []. How are we to know that you are not just badmouthing a company that may have gotten on your bad site?

    Sources and facts, please.

  • by GigaHurtsMyRobot ( 1143329 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @11:53AM (#24358477) Journal
    Because then the speed advantage will not be realized. That's the whole benefit to quantum computing. If we tried simulating the quantum properties in software, the task at hand would take even longer than a standard software approach.
  • by speedtux ( 1307149 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @12:10PM (#24358643)

    What quantum computers are better at is taking advantage of quantum effects to exponentially outperform conventional computers at things such as factoring immense integers.

    That's a little misleading; it's unknown how fast classical factoring is, so it's impossible to say that quantum factoring "exponentially outperforms" it.

    but that is when they develop more uses for it, such as emulating the human mind to make ultra-realistic (if not realistic) AI.

    It's unlikely that quantum computers are needed for AI; the problem with AI is not that we don't have enough computer power, but that we don't know what to do.

    Someone in some field will most likely make a huge discovery similar to the silicon transistors of the past

    Or it will turn out that quantum computing just isn't feasible for some physical reason.

  • by Cairnarvon ( 901868 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @03:38PM (#24360465) Homepage

    I don't know who modded you Insightful, but AI research has produced many useful results. The fact that it hasn't produced HAL 9000 very much does not mean it's on the same level as parapsychology.
    Similarly, quantum physics is a real field of science, and quantum computing is based on solid scientific principles. This company may be a bunch of frauds, but if you want to suggest quantum physics is a massive conspiracy among the physicists of the world you're going to need more than just handwaving and pointing to a field of pseudoscience that never had the support of mainstream scientists.

  • by Walkingshark ( 711886 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @03:43PM (#24360519) Homepage

    I can say that I have direct experience that proves the existence of energy.

    Well, thats a rigorous enough sample size for me, bring on the crystals and pyramids!

  • by Louis Savain ( 65843 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @03:51PM (#24360577) Homepage

    D-Wave's Quantum Computing Crackpottery []

    The whole field of quantum computing is crackpottery at best and an elaborate scam/hoax at worst. One man's opinion.

  • by bh_doc ( 930270 ) <> on Monday July 28, 2008 @12:36AM (#24364217) Homepage

    I started reading your linked blog, but got stuck at this:

    Quantum computing is the only "scientific" field that is not only based on zero evidence but the evidence, if it did exist, can never be observed by definition. The entire quantum computing field is based on the conjecture that certain quantum properties can have multiple states simultaneously, even though the property in question only has room for one. Worse, this property can never be observed in its superposed states because, as soon as you try to observe it, nature does some weird magic called the "collapse of the wave function" and the property instantly takes on one state or another. Amazing, isnâ(TM)t it?

    Quite clearly you have insufficient understanding of quantum mechanics to be able to make any justifiable criticism of it.

    Superposition can be observed by comparing measurements of multiple copies of identically prepared systems done in the superposition basis to measurements done in the "standard" (for lack of a better word) basis. The results you get defy a probabilistic explanation.

    To illustrate that admittedly daunting sentence above, here's an example that you might be able to understand, in terms of polarized light. The principles, however, apply to any system:

    Start with a light source that's unpolarized. If you were to measure the polarization of its photons in the horizontal/vertical basis (take a polarizing beamsplitter, and put single-photon detectors at the outputs), you get 50% horizontal, and 50% vertical results. Say you rotate your measuring apparatus 45%, so now you're measuring in the "diagonal" and "antidiagonal" basis. Of course, you'll still get 50/50 results because the light is unpolarized. No matter what angle you measure at, you'll always get 50/50. Makes sense, right? Sounds probabilistic, and it is.

    Stick in a polarizer at the light source, set so that the photons coming out are horizontally polarized. Now rotate the polarizer 45 degrees. What you've created is "diagonally" polarized photons. You can think of it as being in a superposition of horizontal and vertical polarizations (diagonal is, afterall, the sum of 1/sqrt(2) horizontal and 1/sqrt(2) vertical).

    Or, if you're taking a probabilistic view, half the time a photon is horizontally polarized, and half the time its vertically polarized.

    Do your measurements again, you'll find that measurements in the horizontal/vertical basis give 50/50 results. Hang on, that sounds probabilistic! Why yes, at that point it is. But then, getting even results is consistent with having equally superposed amounts of horizontal and vertical, too.

    Now rotate your measurement device 45 degrees, and you find your results are diagonal/antidiagonal 100/0. This is how you measure superposition states, and shows the difference between them and probabilistic mixture states. You cannot obtain this result with a probabilistic picture, yet this is the result that you will get.

    Light isn't in any way special. Many principles of quantum computers (as well as general quantum mechanics) have been demonstrated using light, and notably they completely agree with similar experiments done in other quantum systems, ion traps for example.

    And I haven't even talked about interference experiments.

    Claiming that there is no evidence for quantum superposition, or that it has never been observed, is just breathtakingly ignorant. But I'm sure you've been told all that before. Here's hoping someone learns something from this, if not yourself.

  • by cobaltnova ( 1188515 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @01:01PM (#24371259)

    The experiment you suggested has nothing to do with observing state superposition. You have not observed any kind of superposition. You are just interpreting the result of an experiment using assertion as proof.

    Sounds like you are guilty of the last sentence as well.

    I don't remember ever saying that I rejected quantum physics.

    What do you believe then? Superposition of wave functions is implicit in Schroedinger's equation. In fact, it's implicit in any differential equation of a wave function (if this is not obvious, I will gladly explain in a later post). What exactly is your version of "Quantum physics" that doesn't allow for superposition?

    Furthermore, don't try the "more than one _ at the same time" trick with me: it won't work. Quantum mechanics does NOT advocate that any object is ever in two states at the same time; it suggests that it is in some other "state" which is not logically "compatible" with your other notions of "state." Try reading Robert Griffiths' "Consistent Quantum Theory." You will agree with him on philosophical issues (he's also Christian).

  • by tucuxi ( 1146347 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:59PM (#24373993)

    I don't remember ever saying that I rejected quantum physics. Why the strawman?

    Read your own blog [], Mr. Troll. You *do* say that quantum physics is crackpottery. Please keep your ravings straight.

    Do you people work for D-Waves? Or are you all ass kissers by nature?

    I don't have any opinion on D-Waves. They are probably selling snake-oil. As for the personal attacks, you sure have an interesting blog and post history. Most trolls forget create a blog that advertises the fact (maybe they troll for kicks, but you seem to be after the page hits). From the blog's "about me", first item:

    I am a crackpot and a crank. Those are my credentials.

"Open the pod bay doors, HAL." -- Dave Bowman, 2001