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Supercomputing Hardware Science

D-Wave Open Sources Its Quantum Computing Tool (gcn.com) 45

Long-time Slashdot reader haruchai writes: Canadian company D-Wave has released their qbsolv tool on GitHub to help bolster interest and familiarity with quantum computing. "qbsolv is a metaheuristic or partitioning solver that solves a potentially large QUBO problem by splitting it into pieces that are solved either on a D-Wave system or via a classical tabu solver," they write on GitHub.

This joins the QMASM macro assembler for D-Wave systems, a tool written in Python by Scott Pakin of Los Alamos National Labs. D-Wave president Bo Ewald says "D-Wave is driving the hardware forward but we need more smart people thinking about applications, and another set thinking about software tools."

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D-Wave Open Sources Its Quantum Computing Tool

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  • What?? (Score:5, Funny)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @04:05PM (#53668451)

    "qbsolv is a metaheuristic or partitioning solver that solves a potentially large QUBO problem by splitting it into pieces that are solved either on a D-Wave system or via a classical tabu solver"

    I know some of those words but all I can really tell is that it apparently does things to stuff, or does stuff to things.

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      > words

      I'm not really sure those all quite qualify as words....

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      qbsolv: name of the program
      partitioning: a family of methods for solving hard optimisation problems by splitting it up into subproblems
      metaheuristic: a heuristic that generates heuristics
      QUBO: quadratic unconstrained binary optimisation
      D-Wave: the company that makes these machines
      classical: non-quantum
      tabu: A Tongan word, meaning "things that cannot be touched because they are sacred" (also spelled "taboo"). In this context, referring to tabu search, a common approach for solving hard optimisation problems

  • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @04:06PM (#53668455)
    • QUBO - Quadratic unconstrained binary optimization [wikipedia.org] is a pattern matching technique, common in machine learning applications. QUBO is an NP hard problem.
    • Tabu search [wikipedia.org] take[s] a potential solution to a problem and check its immediate neighbors (that is, solutions that are similar except for one or two minor details) in the hope of finding an improved solution. Local search methods have a tendency to become stuck in suboptimal regions or on plateaus where many solutions are equally fit.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm disappointed to find it splits up the problem, you rarely find an optimal solution by trying each variable as though they're independent.
      And I'm most disappointed that it's unconstrained. Which makes it totally useless for every problem I've ever used an optimizer.

      CMAES (available in various libraries, e.g. Apache Math) is probably a better choice for "can't solve it any other way" optimizations. That tries N points randomly distributed across each variable depending on each variables deviation. With N

  • ... any faster than can be done on conventional computers, today. All this hype around the D-Wave machines should not distract us from the fact that when competing for solving a given problem fastest against conventional computers, using the algorithms best suited for the respective hardware (and not making the conventional computer simulate a D-Wave like machine), the D-Wave machine loses every contest.
    Open-sourcing some tools won't change that in any way.
    • Honest question then - why do people buy D-Wave systems then?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ffkom ( 3519199 )
        Because D-Wave managed (via clever marketing) to scare a few organizations with deep pockets into thinking that if they didn't buy D-Wave systems, they could miss that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a miraculous Quantum computer at hand while their competitors/enemies do not.
      • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @10:03PM (#53669899)

        Here's a slightly more neutral answer:

        Because D-Wave is a decade ahead of every other competing technology when it comes engineering and systems integration. D-Wave machines do actually work on real-world problems. They do not work as well as carefully-tuned classical approaches, but they do work.

        It's possible that the D-Wave approach may be an evolutionary dead-end for quantum computing. Most people who understand the technology and are outside D-Wave (including Google and Lockheed) would probably put the odds at greater than 50% that D-Wave isn't the most promising approach. Nonetheless, we owe it to ourselves as an industry to test it because it's the only one that's here now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Take any process which can be simulated by a computer, and create optimized hardware to run that simulation. Encryption, 3D video, "quantum computing". Optimized hardware can outperform any general-purpose computer, even at lower clock speeds, especially if the operations don't map well to what is considered general-purpose. How much of D-Wave's positive reception is due to "ground-breaking quantum computing progress" vs. actual improvements in computation? I'm not saying that they haven't made real pro

    • I'm not saying that they haven't made real progress in running the algorithms quantum computers are claimed to do so well, I'm just saying there's no proof that any "quantum computing" is actually going on.

      Not true. Pretty much everyone who researches quantum computing is now convinced that the D-Wave machine does something that can reasonably called "quantum computation" because it matched [arxiv.org] a theoretical prediction [arxiv.org]. To a physicist, that's the best kind of evidence.

      It's still not really that useful, of course.

  • "we need more smart people thinking about applications" = we have a solution looking for a problem

    • We have a hammer that no one can figure out how to swing.
      • We have a hammer that does interesting things when swung. We want to study this hammer to see if what we learn can't be used to make a hammer that is actually better than the best hammers out there.
    • People seem to say that as if it were a bad thing. Personally I'd rather have solutions to problems I've yet to have. Inversely, I wouldn't mind having all of my future problems solved using only existing solutions. A win-win in my book.
      • It's a bad thing in that it's bad business --- a bad investment because no one needs to buy the product. Fine as a hobby though, or as research if you have a grant.

  • "quantum" computing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @05:23PM (#53668725) Journal

    D-wave is not quantum computing. It's regular, non-quantum computing that uses software to simulate what we think using non-locality in computing would be.

    Humans actually controlling quantum non-locality would be arguably the biggest feat since harnessing the atom...it amazes me how this blatant bs continues to be called "quantum"...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Quantum annealing is a process that does use quantum processes on the chip, just isn't the usual quantum gate computer that get most of the news elsewhere (and have been actually build with very small numbers of gates... so you seem behind the news on that).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The D-Wave computer isn't BQP-complete, so you can't run, say, Shor's algorithm on it. It's much more like a quantum Enigma or a quantum calculating machine [wikipedia.org] than a quantum computer in the ordinary, general purpose sense of the word.

      • Quantum annealing

        it's simulated programatically, it's not actual quantum annealing or any kind of actual non-locality (which like I said would be one of the biggest physics acheivements in human history)

        • by quax ( 19371 )

          This is patently false. The machine has been confirmed to perform quantum annealing by independent researchers. [arxiv.org]

          And actual non-locality is every day reality in experimental quantum physics, for instance for quantum encryption.

  • ... compared to a normal computer or a GPU? And what about the energy consumption? Is it useful more than the coolness of the quantum thing?

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