Commercial Quantum Computer?

Quantum computers could revolutionize the way we tackle problems that stump even the best classical computers.
Single atom transistor recently introduced has been seen as a tool that could lead the way to building a quantum computer. For general introduction how quantum computer work, read A tale of two qubits: how quantum computers work article.

D-Wave Announces Commercially Available Quantum Computer article tells that computing company D-Wave has announced that they’re selling a quantum computing system commercially, which they’re calling the D-Wave One. D-Wave system comes equipped with a 128-qubit processor that’s designed to perform discrete optimization operations. The processor uses quantum annealing to perform these operations.

D-Wave is advertisting a number of different applications for its quantum computing system, primarily in the field of artificial intelligence. According to the company, its system can handle virtually any AI application that can be translated to a Markov random field.


Learning to program the D-Wave One blog article tells that the processor in the D-Wave One – codenamed Rainier – is designed to perform a single mathematical operation called discrete optimization. It is a special purpose processor. When writing applications the D-Wave One is used only for the steps in your task that involve solving optimization problems. All the other parts of your code still run on your conventional systems of choice. Rainier solves optimization problems using quantum annealing (QA), which is a class of problem solving approaches that use quantum effects to help get better solutions, faster. Learning to program the D-Wave One is the first in a series of blog posts describing the algorithms we have run on D-Wave quantum computers, and how to use these to build interesting applications.

But is this the start of the quantum computers era? Maybe not. D-Wave Announces Commercially Available Quantum Computer article comments tell a story that this computer might not be the quantum computer you might be waiting for. It seem that the name “quantum computer” is a bit misleading for this product. There are serious controversies around the working and “quantumness” of the machine. D-Wave has been heavily criticized by some scientists in the quantum computing field. First sale for quantum computing article tells that uncertainty persists around how the impressive black monolith known as D-Wave One actually works. Computer scientists have long questioned whether D-Wave’s systems truly exploit quantum physics on their products.

Slashdot article D-Wave Announces Commercially Available Quantum Computer comments tell that this has the same central problem as before. D-Wave’s computers haven’t demonstrated that their commercial bits are entangled. There’s no way to really distinguish what they are doing from essentially classical simulated annealing. Recommended reading that is skeptical of D-Wave’s claims is much of what Scott Aaronson has wrote about them. See for example, although interestingly after he visited D-Wave’s labs in person his views changed slightly and became slightly more sympathetic to them

So it is hard to say if the “128 qubits” part is snake oil or for real. If the 128 “qubits” aren’t entangled at all, which means it is useless for any of the quantum algorithms that one generally thinks of. It seem that this device simply has 128 separate “qubits” that are queried individually, and is, essentially an augmented classical computer that gains a few minor advantages in some very specific algorithms (i.e. the quantum annealing algorithm) due to this qubit querying, but is otherwise indistinguishable from a really expensive classical computer for any other purpose. This has the same central problem as before: D-Wave’s computers haven’t demonstrated that their commercial bits are entangled.

Rather than constantly adding more qubits and issuing more hard-to-evaluate announcements, while leaving the scientific characterization of its devices in a state of limbo, why doesn’t D-Wave just focus all its efforts on demonstrating entanglement, or otherwise getting stronger evidence for a quantum role in the apparent speedup? There’s a reason why academic quantum computing groups focus on pushing down decoherence and demonstrating entanglement in 2, 3, or 4 qubits: because that way, at least you know that the qubits are qubits! Suppose D-Wave were marketing a classical, special-purpose, $10-million computer designed to perform simulated annealing, for 90-bit Ising spin glass problems with a certain fixed topology, somewhat better than an off-the-shelf computing cluster. Would there be even 5% of the public interest that there is now?


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:
    How D-Wave began selling its quantum computer amid suspicion that it relied on classical computing:

    The Age of Quantum Computing Has (Almost) Arrived

    Inside the Black Box

    The guts of a D-Wave don’t look like any other computer. Instead of metals etched into silicon, the central processor is made of loops of the metal niobium, surrounded by components designed to protect it from heat, vibration, and electromagnetic noise. Isolate those niobium loops well enough from the outside world and you get a quantum computer, thousands of times faster than the machine on your desk—or so the company claims. —Cameron Bird

    Is the D-wave actually quantum? if noise is disentangling the qubits, it’s just an expensive classical computer.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:
    First Browser-Based Quantum Computer Simulator Released

    “Google researchers unveiled the first browser-based, GPU-powered Quantum Computing Playground. With a typical GPU card you can simulate up to 22 qubits, write, debug, and share your programs”

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Quantum Computing Playground

    Quantum Computing Playground is a browser-based WebGL Chrome Experiment. It features a GPU-accelerated quantum computer with a simple IDE interface, and its own scripting language with debugging and 3D quantum state visualization features. Quantum Playground can efficiently simulate quantum registers up to 22 qubits, run Grover’s and Shor’s algorithms, and has a variety of quantum gates built into the scripting language itself.

    Technology: WebGL, JavaScript, HTML5, AngularJS, Bootstrap

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Get UNCRACKABLE quantum keys – from a smartphone
    Would take ’1018 times the age of the universe’ to guess

    Your smartphone is a quantum device that can be used to generate truly random keys, according to boffins at the University of Geneva.

    The authors say that smartphone CMOS cameras are now sensitive enough to take the place of expensive kit. “Their readout noise is of the order of a few electrons and their quantum efficiencies can achieve 80 per cent”, the paper states.

    That’s a lot cheaper than the QRNG kit currently on offer – although it’s more expensive than visiting the ANU’s online QRNG site.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Quantum teleportation gets reliable at Delft
    ‘Einstein wrong!’ is always so popular

    A research group at Delft University of Technology has set the lesser-brained among the world’s science writers in an absolute tizz by demonstrating what it describes as reliable quantum teleportation.

    Of course, mention quantum phenomena like entanglement (and therefore teleportation) and the only angle anyone can think of is “Einstein was wrong”, as if the whole idea were new.

    Unless they’re completely off beam and think this is the first quantum teleportation ever.

    Its paper, published at Science (abstract) and available in pre-print version at Arxiv, claims not to be the first information teleportation, but rather the first reliable teleportation.

    Getting quantum-scale particles – electrons, photons, or even atoms – entangled is difficult, separating them is difficult, measuring their state is difficult, and most of all, preserving entanglement in the presence of noise is difficult.

    That makes error rates a problem: noise destroys entanglement, and if you’re communicating information via quantum states, that might mean dozens of states have to be prepared and measured.

    Reliable “single-shot” entanglement measurements would therefore make quantum communications systems operate at much higher bitrates than today.

    The Delft group, led by professor Ronald Hanson, are laying claim to reliable information teleportation between qubit pairs separated by three metres.

    As Hanson says in the release, “The unique thing about our method is that the teleportation is guaranteed to work 100 per cent. The information will always reach its destination, so to speak. And, moreover, the method also has the potential of being 100 per cent accurate.”

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Quantum Cryptography

    Classical cryptography provides security based on unproven mathematical assumptions and depends on the technology available to an eavesdropper. But, these things might not be enough in the near future to guarantee cyber security. We need something that provides unconditional security. We need quantum cryptography.

    What is quantum cryptography? Quantum cryptography is a complex topic, because it brings into play something most people find hard to understand—quantum mechanics. So first, let’s focus on some basic quantum physics that you’ll need to know to understand this article.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Boffins discover ‘practical requirements’ for ‘realistic’ QUANTUM COMPUTER
    One of key ingredients is ‘contextual’ magic states

    Canadian boffins have brought quantum computers a step closer to reality by identifying one feature that will be key to finally building one – contextuality.

    Our computers use the binary system of 1 and 0s. Quantum computers use qubits (quantum bits), which can exist in “superposition”, meaning that they can be a 0 or a 1 and everything in between… simultaneously.

    Quantum researchers have known for 50 years that context is king when it comes to quantum theory.

    To make the system work properly, quantum computing boffins need a way of controlling “the fragile quantum states”. One such way of doing so is building a particular type of noise-resistant environment, and “magic-state distillation” is one approach to doing this.

    The new study has found that contextuality could be key to the “magical state” model of fault-tolerant quantum computation.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:
    D-Wave disputes benchmark study showing sluggish quantum computer
    Faulty benchmarks and sampling methods all wrong, claim Canadian quantumoids

    Quantum computing device manufacturer D-Wave is disputing a recently published study that claims the Canadian firm’s systems aren’t reliably faster than more-conventional computing systems.

  9. says:
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  10. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Microsoft Makes Bet Quantum Computing Is Next Breakthrough

    Modern computers are not unlike the looms of the industrial revolution: They follow programmed instructions to weave intricate patterns.

    Now a group of physicists and computer scientists who are funded by Microsoft are trying to take the analogy of interwoven threads to what some believe will be the next great leap in computing, so-called quantum computing.

    If they are right, their research could lead to the design of computers that are far more powerful than today’s supercomputers and could solve problems in fields as diverse as chemistry, material science, artificial intelligence and code-breaking.

    The proposed Microsoft computer is mind-bending even by the standards of the mostly hypothetical world of quantum computing.

    In the approach that Microsoft is pursuing, which is described as “topological quantum computing,” precisely controlling the motions of pairs of subatomic particles as they wind around one another would manipulate entangled quantum bits. Although the process of braiding particles takes place at subatomic scales, it is evocative of the motions of a weaver overlapping threads to create a pattern.

    By weaving the particles around one another, topological quantum computers would generate imaginary threads whose knots and twists would create a powerful computing system. Most important, the mathematics of their motions would correct errors that have so far proved to be the most daunting challenge facing quantum computer designers.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:
    D-Wave Systems Raises $28.4 Million Round

    Quantum computing technology company D-Wave Systems has raised a new $28.4 million round of funding, according to a new filing on the SEC’s site.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
    Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don’t lose their shape

    Building simple quantum gates is common, but creating something that could be built on transistor-like scale is a huge challenge. Now, boffins from the Technical University of Vienna, Japan’s National Institute of Informatics, and NTT’s Basic Research Labs are offering an architecture they reckon can be scaled up.

    What the researchers are offering, they believe, is a basic architecture they think would support a scalable quantum computer based on spins of nitrogen atoms in diamonds.

    The architecture uses nitrogen atoms that can occupy two spin states, injected into a diamond, with each nitrogen defect trapped in a two-mirror optical resonator. Optical fibres let the engineers couple photons to this quantum system, allowing them to work with it without destroying the nitrogen atom spins.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:
    The Man Who Will Build Google’s Elusive Quantum Computer

    John Martinis is one of the world’s foremost experts on quantum computing, a growing field of science that aims to process information at super high speeds using strange physics of very tiny particles such as electrons and photons. And now, after years as a physics professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, he’s headed for Google.

    This week, the Google Quantum A.I. Lab announced that it hired Martinis and his Santa Barbara team to build a new breed of quantum computing hardware. Though Martinis will maintain his affiliation with UC Santa Barbara and continue to mentor his PhD students there, he will spend most of his time on his research at Google. The move proves that Google is serious about quantum computing, and given the company’s vast influence and deep pockets, it could provide a serious shot in the arm for quantum computer research as a whole.

    Martinis is among those questioning D-Wave’s claims. Last June, Science published a paper co-authored by Martinis and several other scientists concluding that D-Wave’s machines aren’t actually faster than normal laptops and desktops. But he’s no D-Wave hater. Martinis has been working with D-Wave’s machines for a few years now and says he has long been impressed with the work the company has done.

    Meanwhile, D-Wave has been mostly focused on trying to build machines with as many qubits as possible, but it hasn’t focused much on the problem of decoherence, Martinis says. By combining D-Wave’s work on achieving scale with their own work on stability, Martinis and his team think they can push the whole field of quantum computing further.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Google’s First Quantum Computer Will Build on D-Wave’s Approach

    Most quantum computing labs hope to slowly build universal “gate-model” machines that could perform as super-fast versions of today’s classical computers. Such labs have tended to cast a skeptical eye upon D-Wave, the Canadian company that has rapidly developed a more specialized type of quantum computing machine for lease to corporate customers such as Google and Lockheed Martin. In the latest twist, Google has hired an academic team of researchers to help build the first Google quantum computer based on the specialized D-Wave approach rather than on a universal gate-model blueprint.

    The Google announcement of its plan to build new quantum computing hardware coincided with its hiring of John Martinis, a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, last week. Martinis has led an academic team in developing error correction techniques that can stabilize the quantum bits—called qubits—used by quantum computers to perform many simultaneous calculations by representing both 0 and 1 states at the same time.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:
    The sound of silence: One excited atom is so quiet that the human ear cannot detect it
    Listen! Is this a Quantum Communications Leap?

    Boffins believe they have successfully demonstrated the sound a single atom makes when excited – even though it is completely inaudible to the human ear.

    According to a paper published in Science magazine on Thursday, researchers at the University of Columbia and Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology “captured” the very soft sound.

    The discovery could eventually unlock the basic science for new quantum computing devices, reported Motherboard, which spoke to the paper’s co-author Göran Johansson.

    “Basically, when you excite the atom, it creates a sound, one phonon at a time, according to theory. It’s the weakest possible sound possible at the frequency [that it vibrates],” Johansson said.

    The artificial atom was created using a semiconducting circuit, such as those found in small quantum computers.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Tiny Graphene Drum for Future Quantum Computer and Sensor Technologies;Photonics

    Scientists from Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology have demonstrated that they can detect extremely small changes in position and forces on very small drums of graphene.

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  18. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Microsoft’s Quantum Mechanics

    MIT Technology Review has an excellent article summarizing the current state of quantum computing. It focuses on the efforts of Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs to build stable qubits over the past few years.

    Microsoft’s Quantum Mechanics

    Can an aging corporation’s adventures in fundamental physics research open a new era of unimaginably powerful computers?

    Microsoft is now almost a decade into that project and has just begun to talk publicly about it. If it succeeds, the world could change dramatically. Since the physicist Richard Feynman first suggested the idea of a quantum computer in 1982, theorists have proved that such a machine could solve problems that would take the fastest conventional computers hundreds of millions of years or longer. Quantum computers might, for example, give researchers better tools to design novel medicines or super-efficient solar cells. They could revolutionize artificial intelligence.

    Progress toward that computational nirvana has been slow because no one has been able to make a reliable enough version of the basic building block of a quantum computer: a quantum bit, or qubit, which uses quantum effects to encode data. Academic and government researchers and corporate labs at IBM and Hewlett-Packard have all built them. Small numbers have been wired together, and the resulting devices are improving. But no one can control the physics well enough for these qubits to serve as the basis of a practical general-purpose computer.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:
    First Demonstration of Artificial Intelligence On a Quantum Computer

    Machine learning algorithms use a training dataset to learn how to recognize features in images and use this ‘knowledge’ to spot the same features in new images. The computational complexity of this task is such that the time required to solve it increases in polynomial time with the number of images in the training set and the complexity of the “learned” feature.

    Now, a Chinese team has successfully implemented this artificial intelligence algorithm on a working quantum computer, for the first time.

    First Demonstration Of Artificial Intelligence On A Quantum Computer

    A Chinese team of physicists have trained a quantum computer to recognise handwritten characters, the first demonstration of “quantum artificial intelligence”

    Today, Zhaokai Li and pals at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei demonstrate machine learning on a quantum computer for the first time. Their quantum computer can recognise handwritten characters, just as humans can do, in what Li and co are calling the first demonstration of “quantum artificial intelligence”.

    To keep the experiment simple, the team trained their machine to recognise the difference between a handwritten 6 and a handwritten 9. The vectors representing 6s and 9s can then be compared in this feature space to work out how best to distinguish between them. In effect, the computer finds a hyperplane in the feature space that separates the vectors representing 6s from those representing 9s.

    That makes the task of recognising other 6s or 9s straightforward. For each new image of a character, the computer has to decide which side of the dividing line the vector sits.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Quantum Experiment Shows How Time ‘Emerges’ from Entanglement

    Time is an emergent phenomenon that is a side effect of quantum entanglement, say physicists. And they have the first experimental results to prove it

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:
    A leap into quantum computing

    This is the first in an occasional series that will describe some of the current work being done, and challenges in the field of quantum computing. I will also use this soap box to attempt to intrigue fellow electrical engineers into considering the field as a viable area of research, as many of the challenges currently plaguing the field fall under engineering disciplines.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Simon’s says quantum computing will work
    Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits

    One of the hard parts of quantum computing is turning laboratory qubits into a calculation of anything. Now, South African scientists claim they’ve tested a handful of qubits against a 20-year-old algorithm to demonstrate that yes, a quantum computer can run it “faster” than a classical machine.

    Regular readers of quantum-computing stories will know that D Wave has made controversial claims that it can solve some algorithms faster than classical computers using quantum annealing, but that those claims have become the subject of academic to-and-fro about their validity.

    The new claim isn’t anywhere near as startling: what the researchers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban say is that they’ve demonstrated that a six-qubit quantum computer solves what’s called Simon’s algorithm in fewer iterations than a classical computer would require.

    That’s not necessarily “faster”, since a multi-gigahertz processor can throw iterations up against the wall much faster than a quantum machine can at the moment. However, if / when quantum machines reach classical-like clocking (or rather the quantum computing equivalent thereof), the quantum machine would outpace its iterative competitor.

    Experimental Realization of a One-Way Quantum Computer Algorithm Solving Simon’s Problem

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:
    UK boffins: We’ll have an EMBIGGENED QUANTUM COMPUTER working in 5 YEARS
    Oxford boffins toil away on Q20:20 machine

    Oxford boffins have vowed to have the largest quantum computer ever made up and running within five years and help Blighty regain its place at the top of the tech world.

    The government has announced the creation of four “Quantum Technology Hubs” which will collaborate to build a small device called the Q20:20.

    Sadly, this won’t be a quantum laptop but a scalable machine which will open a “pathway to quantum computers big enough to tackle any problem”. It will be the largest quantum computer ever built, Oxford Uni claimed.

    “Quantum computing will enable users to solve problems that are completely intractable on conventional supercomputers. Meanwhile, quantum simulation provides a way to understand and predict the properties of complex systems such as advanced new materials or drugs, by using a quantum device to mimic the system under study,” said Professor Ian Walmsley, at Oxford Uni’s Department of Physics.

    The primary use of the Q20:20 will be to develop machine-learning techniques which can recognise patterns in data without a human having to get involved.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Quantum computing is so powerful it takes two years to understand what happened
    Boffins: ‘We factored 143′, ‘no, you factored 56,153′, which is bad news for crypto

    In 2012 a group of Chinese quantum physicists pulled off an acclaimed success in quantum-based factoring, running an adiabatic quantum algorithm for the number 143, at the time believed to be the largest number ever factored in a quantum computation.

    It now seems that paper, here, could have overlooked something: in a new paper at Arxiv, Nikesh Dattani and Nathaniel Bryans (Kyoto University and the University of Calgary, respectively, believe that the computation happened to also factor the numbers 3,599, 11,663 and 56,153.

    While even 56,153 is a tiny number compared to the kind of factorisation predicted by fans of Shor’s algorithm (and feared by spooks), it was accomplished using only four qubits – which means that the work can be reproduced and therefore validated on a classical computer without waiting an unreasonable time to test the work.

    Even better, from the researchers’ point of view, is that this represents a considerable jump compared to attempts to implement Shor’s algorithm (the first proposed use of a quantum computer for factorisation).

    So far, every shot at using a quantum computer to solve Shor’s algorithm could only be tested if the researcher already knew the answer

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:
    CommBank throws AU$5 MEELLION at UNSW quantum computer lab
    Because everyone wants their bank balance stored as a superposition

    Australia’s Commonwealth Bank has decided to make a AU$5 million donation to the University of New South Wales’ Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology.

    The money is intended to help two projects, namely an effort to “demonstrate entanglement in a scalable silicon based quantum computing architecture and then to coherently transport quantum information to create ‘flying qubits’ within the computer.”

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:
    A Faster Way To Make Quantum Computing Chips

    Optics researchers from INRS-EMT in Quebec, Canada have developed a new method of generating photon pairs — tiny entangled particles of light — that are small enough to fit onto a computer chip.

    The new power-efficient approach could enable next-generation quantum computers and optical communication technologies.

    Generating photon pairs on demand is only a recent breakthrough, but it’s important for creating certain computer networks that can process quantum information. Methods of photon polarization — the direction in which an electric field associated with a photon oscillates — thus far only generate photons with same polarization as the laser beam used to pump the device. These states must be mixed afterward to create cross-polarization. The new method shortens the process by directly generating cross-polarized photon pairs, from devices less than one square millimeter in area.

    To generate cross-polarized photons, the research team used two laser beams, one polarized vertically, the other horizontally. A micro-ring resonator (a type of optical cavity that’s anywhere from 10 – 100 micrometers) prevented the two beams’ “classical effects” from destroying the photons’ fragile quantum states, while at the same time amplifying quantum processes.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Diamonds are a power IC’s best friend

    Synthetic diamond is now being tested for quantum-based applications such as secure quantum communication, quantum computing, and magnetic/electric field sensing. Quantum applications use the exciting world of quantum physics to perform operations, which would not be possible in systems adhering to classical physics.

    Synthetic diamond has significant advantages over competitive materials because the quantum properties of the defects it hosts can be manipulated and probed at room temperature.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Quantum Entanglement Now On-a-Chip
    Breakthrough 20 micron enables uncrackable encryption

    Quantum computing promises to revolutionize future computers, enabling pint-sized hardware to outperform room-filing supercomputers, plus offers uncrackable encryption that foils all hackers no matter how skillful they are. The missing piece of the quantum puzzle was called “spooky action at a distance” by Einstein, namely a reliable source of entangled photons who mirror each others’ state no matter how far apart on standard CMOS silicon chips.

    Now Italian scientists at the Università degli Studi di Pavia, in cooperation with the University of Glasgow and the University of Toronto, claim to have surmounted this last engineering hurdle.

    “The idea is that pumping laser light inside a tiny ring enhances the probability of two photons interacting. We therefore decided that this enhancement could be used, in particular, for the production of entangled photon pairs,” professor Daniele Bajoni at the Università degli Studi di Pavia told EE Times. “In previous works, we discovered that confining light inside a ring resonator greatly enhances the interaction between light and matter, but our new results were realized by design, not by chance.”

    “The most typical algorithm for quantum cryptography using entanglement is the so-called Eckert protocol. In essence two parties (generally named Alice and Bob) exchange a set of entangled photon pairs, let us say idler photons are sent to Alice and signal photons are sent to Bob. Alice performs certain measurements on her photons, obtaining random results (let us say 1100101). If Bob performs the correct measurements on his photons, because of the entanglement, he will get the same string of random bits as Alice. The two can then use this string of random bits to encrypt signals to be sent on normal channels,” Bajoni told us. “If someone eavesdrops the exchange of entangled photons between Alice and Bob, this action will change the properties of the photons, so that Alice and Bob can know if there is an eavesdropper: this makes the communication intrinsically secure.”

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Jordan Novet / VentureBeat:
    Quantum computing company D-Wave raises an additional $23.1M, bringing total to $138.7M

    D-Wave keeps dreaming of quantum computers everywhere, takes $23.1M more

    D-Wave Systems, a company building what it calls quantum computers, is announcing today that it has taken on around $23.1 million, or $29 million in Canadian dollars, in additional funding.

    Burnaby, British-Columbia-based D-Wave claims its hardware is capable of quantum computing.

    Some researchers have wondered if D-Wave’s machines really do achieve a quantum state. Even so, D-Wave has landed some prominent deals in the past couple of years. In 2013, Lockheed Martin, D-Wave’s first customer, shelled out for an upgrade to a D-Wave Two computer. That same year, Google and NASA announced that they had picked up a D-Wave Two system for a joint project, the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

    The new money will help “accelerate development of D-Wave’s quantum hardware and software and expand the software application ecosystem,” according to a statement from the company. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been incubating a quantum computing initiative of its own on the University of California, Santa Barbara campus.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Quantum computers have failed. So now for the science
    Bouncing oil droplets reveal slippery truth behind the magical promises

    I am a heretic. There, I’ve said it. My heresy? I don’t believe that quantum computers can ever work.

    I’ve been a cryptographer for over 20 years and for all that time we’ve been told that sooner or later someone would build a quantum computer that would factor large numbers easily, making our current systems useless.

    However, despite enormous amounts of money spent by research councils and government agencies, the things are stuck at three qubits. Factoring 15 is easy; 35 seems too hard. A Canadian company has started selling computers they claim are quantum; scientists from Google and NASA said they couldn’t observe any quantum speed-up.

    Classical musings

    Most physicists nowadays are sceptical that quantum mechanics can arise from an underlying classical system: see for example the Wired article on bouncing droplets. The reason for this, and the argument for quantum computing, hinges on the “Bell tests”. Let me explain.

    In 1935, Einstein had argued that quantum mechanics could not be the whole story, because if two electrons were generated by the same atomic decay, then quantum mechanics tells us that their states are “entangled”, which means that they can be described by a single wave function and thus will remain correlated until one of them interacts with another particle.

    Wave of correlation

    The secret is that the magnetic line of force already sets up a correlation along its length, and this provides the secret sauce. Just as in the droplet experiment, if you have an existing long-range order, then quantum mechanics can arise from an underlying classical model. In particular, we can model the photon as a wave in a classical fluid that obeys Maxwell’s equations and is in quantitative agreement with the predictions of quantum mechanics as measured in the Bell tests.

    We’re still some way off being able to derive the whole of the Standard Model starting from an underlying classical spacetime. But there is now a whole discipline, called emergent quantum mechanics, which searches for just such models, and some are rather innovative.

    Our paper shows that you don’t need multiple universes to explain the weirdness of quantum behaviour, just some form of long-range order in the universe, whether that comes from an underlying computational mesh, the order parameter of a superfluid or perhaps simply from the magnetic fields that pervade the observable universe.

    And if reality is analogue all the way down, then quantum computers are just analogue computers, so their failure to deliver magical results is unsurprising. In fact, we’d rather see it as evidence that the emergent quantum mechanics research community may be on the right track. The magic has failed; now let’s get on with the science

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:
    Quantum of Suspicion: Despite another $29m, D-Wave doubts remain
    What exactly is company offering?

    Controversial quantum computing venture D-Wave Systems has scooped $29m in lovely fresh cash, courtesy of investors, despite lingering doubts about whether what it offers can be considered “quantum”.

    This is D-Wave’s tenth round of funding from 14 investors, bringing total investments to fairly hefty $174m.

    D-Wave didn’t identify the source of its latest infusion, but emphasised the line-up included one “large institutional investor” among others.

    D-Wave claims it is the first quantum computing company, with customers including Lockheed Martin, Google and NASA. However, there’s considerable debate and uncertainty about whether what D-Wave offers can actually be considered quantum.

    Scientists and experts in the field of physics have disputed whether what D-Wave has can accurately be called quantum computing.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:
    The Near-Term Future of Quantum Computing? Analog Simulations

    Contrary to what you may have ​heard, progress in quantum computing is slow and painful. While there are papers and studies out every week describing some new technology that could have a quantum computing implication at some theoretical future point—together reinforcing the impression that we are really, truly almost there—they usually have less to do with the thing itself: a quantum computer.


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