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Quantum Computing

stryker

TRIBE Member
This has been in the news for years now but I don't fully understand what it is, other than it's makes processing like a billion times faster.

I understand the theory of Quantum physics, what I don't understand is how this is applied to computing. How does this actually make computing better?


I feel like a distraction today..


Help please.

stew :)
 

JamesM

TRIBE Member
As far as I know it's replacing transistors which are either on or off, switching, and are mechanical, with an application of using light instead. Which would be super fast.
 

stryker

TRIBE Member
^^...still stand by it :)


Still don't understand how quantum computing is physically capable at making computing faster chip/integrated circuit better.

stew
 
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praktik

TRIBE Member
Because you can have a third state. Binary has two modes of expression, on/off

Quantum computers have more flexibility by adding an extra expression - and also some strange shit like being able to be in more than one state simultaneously.

It takes a different approach to programming for sure - but algorithms here have potential to be orders of magnitude better at certain mathematical computations than binary counterparts tasked with the same operation.

The hill to climb here is more the fabrication and mechanics of it - the theory is well grounded and further along than our ability to realize it.
 

stryker

TRIBE Member
Because you can have a third state. Binary has two modes of expression, on/off

Quantum computers have more flexibility by adding an extra expression - and also some strange shit like being able to be in more than one state simultaneously.

It takes a different approach to programming for sure - but algorithms here have potential to be orders of magnitude better at certain mathematical computations than binary counterparts tasked with the same operation.

The hill to climb here is more the fabrication and mechanics of it - the theory is well grounded and further along than our ability to realize it.
It's that 3rd state is leveraged that I'm having issues understanding. I understand how and why the 3rd state is available. But how you impose that on a chip baffles me.

Is it different microchip?
Are transistors still required?
re: Acherons vid...Does have a cubit mean that the whole infrastructure of a computer will be drastically changed?

It's looking like that the part that hasn't been figured out yet. So I'm guessing one of these things hasn't actually been invented yet?

stew
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
No there's been some interesting experiments to date. But its kind of thing that has had like, single purpose quantum machines built to test in experiment - definitely no mass production or anything close to that.

So its like when they were able to demonstrate some nuclear potential in the lab, but hadn't yet weaponized it or made reactors out of it yet...
 

derek

TRIBE Member
there have been a couple of companies that have claimed to build at quantum computer but the capability and parallel processing are questionable (close but not cigar)

and to state you understand quantum theory means you don't ;)
 
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DJ_Science

TRIBE Member
and to state you understand quantum theory means you don't ;)
I actually beg to differ on this point. Sure, it's counter intuitive and you can't think of it in terms of your every day classical intuition, but that doesn't preclude understanding.
 

stryker

TRIBE Member
I actually beg to differ on this point. Sure, it's counter intuitive and you can't think of it in terms of your every day classical intuition, but that doesn't preclude understanding.
Watch the Google video, I just caught the comment. Totally flew right over my head...lol
 

Bass-Invader

TRIBE Member
Because you can have a third state. Binary has two modes of expression, on/off

Quantum computers have more flexibility by adding an extra expression - and also some strange shit like being able to be in more than one state simultaneously.

It takes a different approach to programming for sure - but algorithms here have potential to be orders of magnitude better at certain mathematical computations than binary counterparts tasked with the same operation.

The hill to climb here is more the fabrication and mechanics of it - the theory is well grounded and further along than our ability to realize it.
The way I understand it is not that such computers have a third state, but that each qbit can be in all states simultaneously (both 1 and 0 - ie: the cat is both dead and alive) until examined. This makes such computers faster for certain problems (factoring prime numbers, or optimisation problems), but not faster at large.

Also, there is some controversy around whether the DWAVE machines are quantum computers. I believe the company has changed their literature to say they are quantum optimisers or something like that since their machines are more limited in their application than a fully fledged quantum computer.
 
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Jeffsus

TRIBE Member
I understand the theory of Quantum physics..
You know, there's a quote about people who believe this.

Quote aside, the main difference results from a physical property of "entangled" particles, and the fact that a quantum bit can remain an unknown state while still being pushed through the mechanics of a calculation.

In a common digital computer, a 1 is a 1 and a 0 is a 0 and these values move through calculations a step at a time.

With an (ideal) quantum computer, you could move bits in the "unknown" state through the computation and then force it to collapse into a true answer. A classical computer might have to do each calculation one at a time, then check if it's answer is true, which would result in a bunch of

try -> nope
try -> nope
try -> nope
try -> nope

whereas a quantum computer might look more like

try everything at once -> ok here's one that works

letting the machinery of the universe essentially doing the repetitions for you.

So this just means that quantum computers are good for certain kinds of problems but not particularly good at others. They could probably break most encryption schemes quite easily since those are based on the very difficult task of

is this number prime? -> nope
what about the next number? -> nope
well what about the next number? -> nope

The fact that this can take so long for a regular computer makes banking and other encryption very strong. But a quantum computer could break it immediately.

However a quantum computer would be pretty crappy at storing a JPG or an executable since in those cases you want your 1s to be 1s and your 0s to be 0s.

-jM
A&D

-jM
A&D
 

Jeffsus

TRIBE Member
It's that 3rd state is leveraged that I'm having issues understanding. I understand how and why the 3rd state is available. But how you impose that on a chip baffles me.

Is it different microchip?
Are transistors still required?
re: Acherons vid...Does have a cubit mean that the whole infrastructure of a computer will be drastically changed?

It's looking like that the part that hasn't been figured out yet. So I'm guessing one of these things hasn't actually been invented yet?

stew
Forget chips.

Living in waterloo I've been able to attend some cool demonstrations of what so far passes as a quantum computer. I think the guys doing the demonstrations used the term lightly.

Chips are just based on varying electrical conductivity to make switches which, if you have millions or billions of such switches aka transistors, you can make achip do some pretty impressive things.

The "quantum computer" I saw wasn't a computer at all (yet) but was trying to demonstrate the current basic problem which is how to make "qubits" stable enough to be usable in a calculation.

I believe the qubit I witnessed, or rather the device claiming to measure the state of a qubit, was using chlorine molecules and the electron in it's outer orbit somehow. The guy explaining didn't really speak english and I didn't get his diagram but the point was this was a large apparatus -- to make just one qubit. You can't do any calculations with just one qubit. And even then it wasn't stable to last very long.

But if one day they get say 8 qubits entangled and lasting long enough then maybe they would interface with a standard silicon chip somehow and become useful.

-jM
A&D
 

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Got this research note on my desk this morning...


Blog: Quantum Leap Is Within Reach

(read time ~4 minutes)

October 22, 2017

Quantum Computing represents a fundamental shift in the way computing and problem

solving as a whole function, and offers capabilities that make our modern

supercomputers pale by comparison. Applications include next generation machine

learning, solving previously impossible problems such as routing city traffic, vastly

accelerating biomedical research to help cure disease, and even simulating natural

processes of the universe itself. In 2015, Google used a D-Wave Systems quantum

computer to perform calculations hundreds of millions of times faster than a laptop.

Since then Google, D-Wave, IBM and others have made significant progress making

these machines, and related cloud computing services, more commercially viable.

We believe we are on the verge of a fundamental shift in technological history, with

demand coming from categories such as next generation machine learning that require

quantum computing power. While exact timing is unknown, its need should push the

sector to become vastly more important within the next five years. In this blog, we

summarize the promise of quantum computing, market opportunities, who the key

players are, and some of the remaining challenges.

This response was stimulated by a recent front page Wall Street Journal article, "How

Google's Quantum Computer Could Change The World" (October 16th). Complex physics

aside, the key point from the article was that Google, and the industry as a whole, are

on track towards achieving this breakthrough. Google says it is close to a functioning

universal quantum computer that would demonstrate the elusive promise of 'quantum

supremacy,' which outpaces all of our current computing technology. Google now has

a prototype chip on which it plans to run a full test early next year. Once unlocked,

the technology even has an ominous side: the wielder could break all known

cryptographic security. This has prompted the NSA to begin its own $80 million project

to get a jump start.



To start, what is quantum computing? It might be easier for us to talk about how a quantum computer is built. Conventional computers store information as a series of 0’s or 1’s, also known as bits. Several years ago physicists envisioned a computer that would be built using a particle that could be in many states at once. The information thus stored is called a ‘qubit,’ and can remain in an intermediate state. This requires the chip be suspended in temperatures near absolute zero, colder than even interstellar space.

To grasp the concept, think about trying to open a combination lock. A classical computer has to go through each combination one by one, potentially taking a lot of time. With qubits and quantum computing, all of the combinations can be tried simultaneously. This approach fundamentally changes the way computing works. Practically it means quantum computers can perform calculations thousands of times faster than today’s supercomputers.

The Opportunity Is More Than Classical Computing

While the technology is complex, if commercially available the opportunity is obvious and substantial. Over 50 years Intel changed the world, bringing rich rewards to its investors. Today quantum computing is poised to bring the next major phase in computing.

Intel pioneered modern computing. It invented the first microchip computer in 1971 and has since continuously pushed the envelope, ushering in the age of modern computing. Since 1971, Intel’s market value has grown to $200 billion today up from the initial investment of $2.5 million in 1968. Some readers might also know Intel only raised $8 million at its Initial Public Offering. Since 1982, an investor who purchased a share of Intel would have made ~2,700 times the initial investment by 2017 (on a stock split-adjusted basis). Intel was of course just one part of the computing revolution that followed, creating vast wealth across the economy.



On our fastest supercomputers, processing grew to many trillions of operations per second today compared to a few operations per second in 1971. For context, quantum computer processing power could be thousands of times faster than classical computers. Its goal is to supplant classical computing proving the power to solve problems in AI, machine learning, simulation and data processing.

The pace at which computing doubles has slowed lately and we believe that quantum computers may continue where classical computers have begun to trail off.

High performance computing is in demand. Auto companies have historically been important purchasers of dedicated supercomputers, which are used to simulate new vehicle designs. Pharmaceutical research is another area with high investment, with US$130 billion being spent annually on drug R&D. Exscientia, a drug discovery company in the UK that bases its approach on AI techniques, signed a $43MM deal with GlaxoSmithKline in 2017.

Overall, the potential for quantum computing is vast. One market estimate places the quantum computing market at an 82% CAGR over the next few years with the total quantum market at ~$10.0 billion US by 2024. On top of system sales, D-Wave has forecast that quantum cloud services offering access to quantum computing as a service could be an additional $20 billion annually.



The Quantum Computing Players

A few key players in this market are leading the charge. Google, mentioned above, has a 22-qubit quantum computer in development. Google has hired John Martinis at the University of California—Santa Barbara, who has worked in quantum research for 11 years; the company has assembled a team of scientists at UCSB. IBM has invested heavily, led by the intelligent and charismatic Jerry Chow in New York. In May of this year IBM’s quantum group unveiled a 17-qubit quantum processor that is being used in open-source collaboration on IBM cloud. Microsoft is also working on a different type of quantum computer (based on a “topological qubit”), but has yet to demonstrate tangible results.



In 2011, D-Wave systems, a Canadian company based in Burnaby, British Columbia, produced the first commercially available quantum computer — a “quantum annealer” capable of solving complex optimization algorithms. The company has released new versions that double initial qubit capacity to about 2,000 qubits. Systems have been purchased by Lockheed Martin as well as jointly by Google and NASA for research and experimentation purposes. D-Wave’s roster of investors is also impressive: it includes Jeff Bezos, Goldman Sachs and the CIA’s venture capital arm In–Q-Tel.

D-Wave has continued to show promising results in a 2017 Google performance study. Also in 2017, Volkswagen AG became the first automaker to work with quantum computers by using D-Wave’s computer to route traffic in Beijing. Researchers worked with data from 10,000 taxis to optimize traffic flow, which would have taken orders of magnitude longer with a conventional computer. VW is interested in quantum computing in areas such as autonomous driving, robotics and smart factories.

Some challenges still exist before quantum computing becomes ready for prime time. The first challenge to overcome is related to reliability. Qubits have proven to be quite sensitive to any environmental disturbances and can lose their information easily. One way to overcome this is to use error correction involving other qubits. Such error correction is challenging versus classical computers, but Google and IBM appear to have made progress on this front. Related to this challenge, IBM has suggested to use “quantum volume” to map out both the number of qubits and the error rate when thinking about quantum capability.

The second major challenge is to reliably demonstrate ‘quantum supremacy’ —the point at which quantum machines are undeniably orders of magnitude faster than conventional computers (including supercomputers). While some support has been demonstrated, there is some way to go before it is conclusive. With progress underway, these hurdles are likely to be solved in the next few years.

Once quantum computers are built, software will be needed to enable functionality, along with a services ecosystem. To that end, D-Wave has partnered with 1Qbit Information Technologies in Vancouver. IBM has released a software development kit in an open-source collaboration, and other players are likely to emerge. Due to the technical requirements of having quantum machines super-cooled, this revolution could take shape as cloud-based software over purchasing these multi-million dollar high-end machines. Software is likely to be developed alongside the chipset at a much faster pace than in 1971; we are likely to see a fully developed ecosystem in five years or thereabouts.

The Wall Street Journal article shows heightened interest in this area and breakthroughs appear eminent. Our guidance to readers is to track companies as they sort out which path and approach to the technology hurdles are resolved, as the rewards can be material.
 
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