"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Quantum Computing Power Rising Exponentially

Quantum computing essentially makes all of our current encryption standards useless. Researchers have long been discussing whether Artificial General Intelligence will require quantum computers, but by the time AGI stuff filters into the general public it will likely run on a quantum machine by default. The biggest gains will come from integrating this with sensor nets, which will act as the eyes and ears for our computer systems in the physical world which will be coupled with supervised and unsupervised learning algorithms instead of a reliance on making advances in software by programming alone. Machines are already able to infer mathematical patterns from data and design their own experiments.

Right now quantum computing is being used for large scale projects, by companies like Lockheed:
Lockheed Martin Corporation has agreed to purchase the first D-Wave One quantum computing system from D-Wave Systems Inc., according to D-Wave spokesperson Ann Gibbon.

Lockheed Martin plans to use this “quantum annealing processor” for some of Lockheed Martin’s “most challenging computation problems,” according to a D-Wave statement.

D-Wave computing systems address combinatorial optimization problems.that are “hard for traditional methods to solve in a cost-effective amount of time.”

These include software verification and validation, financial risk analysis, affinity mapping and sentiment analysis, object recognition in images, medical imaging classification, compressed sensing, and bioinformatics.

Or to work on infamously difficult problems in academia, like protein folding:

A team of Harvard University researchers, led by Professor Alan Aspuru-Guzik, have used Dwave’s adiabatic quantum computer to solve a protein folding problem. The researchers ran instances of a lattice protein folding model, known as the Miyazawa-Jernigan model, on a D-Wave One quantum computer.

The research used 81 qubits and got the correct answer 13 times out of 10,000. However these kinds of problems usually have simple verification to determine the quality of the answer. So it cut down the search space from a huge number to 10,000. Dwave has been working on a 512 qubit chip for the last 10 months. The adiabatic chip does not have predetermined speed up amounts based on more qubits and depends upon what is being solved but in general the larger number of qubits will translate into better speed and larger problems that can be solved. I interviewed the CTO of Dwave Systems (Geordie Rose back in Dec, 2011). Usually the system is not yet faster than regular supercomputers (and often not faster than a desktop computer) for the 128 qubit chip but could be for some problems with the 512 qubit chip and should definitely be faster for many problems with an anticipated 2048 qubit chip. However, the Dwave system can run other kinds of algorithms and solutions which can do things that regular computers cannot. The system was used by Google to train image recognition systems to remove outliers in an automated way.

However it’s likely that in 5-10 years, as a conservative estimate, it will move into the consumer marketplace.

LONDON – Quantum computing has been brought a step closer to mass production by a research team led by scientists from the University of Bristol that has made a transition from using glass to silicon.

The Bristol team has been demonstrating quantum photonic effects in glass waveguides for a number of years but the use of a silicon chip to demonstrate photonic quantum mechanical effects such as superposition and entanglement, has the advantage of being a match to contemporary high volume manufacturing methods, the team claimed.

This could allow the creation of hybrid circuits that mix conventional electronic and photonic circuitry with a quantum circuit for applications such as secure communications.

edit: Here is a comment from a PhD candidate in Physics:

Wave’s quantum computer is an adiabatic quantum computer designed to solve optimization problems, not perform universal computations. It’s architecture is not compatible with running algorithms based on the circuit model, which include all the fabled cryptography beating algorithms based on fast factoring (Shor’s algorithm).

In any case, as Michael points out, 128 qubits is certainly not enough to decrypt traditional cryptosystem and there is some dispute about exactly how “quantum” their computer really is, although their Nature paper has alleviated some of these concerns. At this point, D-Wave’s computer is more relevant as a proof of principle than as an actual computational device. Lockheed Martin probably bought theirs to insure they will be on the ground floor if this thing takes off.

4 responses to “Quantum Computing Power Rising Exponentially

  1. Dom September 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Hey, sorry that broken video link is my fault. I made that video, but it was a really rough first version, and someone posted it on vimeo without me knowing; so it had to go.

    Anyway here is the proper version:


  2. Tiger September 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Quantum computing is useful already, if you have a problem that you can computationally verify the solution to. So, you do 10,000 runs, and get the right answer only 13 times. But the fact is, you got the right answer 13 times! If you can check each answer, you’ll find the 13 correct ones. So, for something like RSA encryption, this is fantastic. You do 10,000 runs, and the check can be done by a normal Von Neumann machine. Large numbers factored into primes in mere seconds. Awesome!

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