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.

dwave

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 http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=639, http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=198 although interestingly after he visited D-Wave’s labs in person his views changed slightly and became slightly more sympathetic to them http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=954.

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?

466 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Scientists discover a topological magnet that exhibits exotic quantum effects
    https://phys.org/news/2020-07-scientists-topological-magnet-exotic-quantum.html

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Scientists Predict Quantum Jumps, Turning Physics on Its Head
    Found: Schrödinger’s cat, alive and well.
    https://futurism.com/predict-quantum-jumps-schrodingers-cat

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The quantum Hall effect continues to reveal its secrets to mathematicians and physicists
    A transformative experiment is yielding fresh insights 40 years after the effect’s discovery — and energizing transdisciplinary collaborations.
    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02230-7

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Attosecond angular streaking and tunnelling time in atomic hydrogen
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1028-3

    The tunnelling of a particle through a potential barrier is a key feature of quantum mechanics that goes to the core of wave–particle duality. The phenomenon has no counterpart in classical physics, and there are no well constructed dynamical observables that could be used to determine ‘tunnelling times’. The resulting debate1,2,3,4,5 about whether a tunnelling quantum particle spends a finite and measurable time under a potential barrier was reignited in recent years by the advent of ultrafast lasers and attosecond metrology6. Particularly important is the attosecond angular streaking (‘attoclock’) technique

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Physicists watch quantum particles tunnel through solid barriers. Here’s what they found.
    https://www.livescience.com/quantum-tunneling-observed-and-measured.html

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Grasshopper jumping on Bloch sphere finds new quantum insights
    https://phys.org/news/2020-08-grasshopper-bloch-sphere-quantum-insights.html

    New research at the University of Warwick has (pardon the pun) put a new spin on a mathematical analogy involving a jumping grasshopper and its ideal lawn shape. This work could help us understand the spin states of quantum-entangled particles.

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    QUANTUM COMPUTING BREAKTHROUGH AS SCIENTISTS FIND POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO TECHNOLOGY’S BIGGEST HURDLE
    https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/quantum-computing-computer-noise-algorithm-large-system-ibm-a9663461.html

    Scientists have made a major breakthrough in the development of large-scale quantum computers.

    “Noise” remains the biggest problem for the development of quantum computers, and must be solved before they can be used widely and in the revolutionary ways that have been proposed. The new paper suggests a way of dealing with such noise, in turn potentially opening up a way to control that noise and develop much better quantum computing systems.

    The noise becomes more of a problem the more qubits there are, and the larger the system, meaning that the problem is a particular barrier for building the kinds of big quantum computers that have been offered as offering revolutionary new technology in the future.

    But new research, published in Nature Physics, includes new algorithms that are able to work in much larger-scale quantum computing devices.

    And it has already been successfully used on the IBM Quantum Experience, an online platform that allows researchers to make use of the companies’ quantum computing systems.

    They found that the algorithm was able to successfully diagnose the noise in the system – finding issues that had not previously been detected.

    If quantum computers are to be successful, they will need to be precisely calibrated to avoid noise, or errors. But they will also need to be able to correct those errors if they are to be relied on for important calculations.

    To be able to do that, quantum scientists will need to be able to know where the errors are likely to be introduced. Knowing that will allow them to optimise their error correction for the specific problems, rather than doing so in a generic way.

    ‘Efficient learning of quantum noise’ is published today in Nature Physics.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Quantum researchers create an error-correcting cat
    https://phys.org/news/2020-08-quantum-error-correcting-cat.html

    Yale physicists have developed an error-correcting cat—a new device that combines the Schrödinger’s cat concept of superposition (a physical system existing in two states at once) with the ability to fix some of the trickiest errors in a quantum computation.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    AWS creates a quantum computing cloud with classical testbed plus rentable qubits
    If you think the quantum world is confusing, wait until you see the pricing
    https://www.theregister.com/2020/08/14/aws_braket_quantum_cloud/

    Amazon Web Services has fired up a cloud quantum computing service.

    Dubbed “Braket”, the service is offered a learning experience rather than a full-blown production environment.

    AWS has created a library of quantum algorithms it offers as a starting point, but also invites users to roll their own. Those algos can run in an on-prem simulator that AWS offers, or on the cloudy Braket simulator that is priced depending on the EC2 instance type you select. AWS suggests the cloudy option for complex algos that use 34 or more qubits.

    Once a simulation works to your satisfaction on a classical computer, AWS offers the chance to run it on quantum processors from D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigett.

    Pricing for those machines starts with a $0.30 fee per task, then a fee for each “shot”.

    AWS explains this all as follows:

    A shot is a single execution of a quantum algorithm, such as a single pass through each stage of a complete quantum circuit on a gate-based quantum computer, or one result sample of quantum annealing problem. The per-shot pricing depends on the QPU used. The per-shot price is not affected by the number or type of gates used in a quantum circuit or the number of variables used in a quantum annealing problem.

    A task is a sequence of repeated shots based on the same circuit design or annealing problem. You define how many shots you want included in a task when you submit the task to the Amazon Braket service.

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hybrid process developed to produce larger quantum computer chips
    MIT engineers have developed a hybrid process that connects photonics with “artificial atoms,” to produce the largest quantum chip of its type.
    https://www.controleng.com/articles/hybrid-process-developed-to-produce-larger-quantum-computer-chips/?oly_enc_id=0462E3054934E2U

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    AI automatic tuning delivers step forward in quantum computing
    https://techxplore.com/news/2020-08-ai-automatic-tuning-quantum.html

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Major quantum computational breakthrough is shaking up physics and maths
    https://theconversation.com/major-quantum-computational-breakthrough-is-shaking-up-physics-and-maths-136634

    MIP* = RE is not a typo. It is a groundbreaking discovery and the catchy title of a recent paper in the field of quantum complexity theory. Complexity theory is a zoo of “complexity classes” – collections of computational problems – of which MIP* and RE are but two.

    The 165-page paper shows that these two classes are the same. That may seem like an insignificant detail in an abstract theory without any real-world application. But physicists and mathematicians are flocking to visit the zoo, even though they probably don’t understand it all. Because it turns out the discovery has astonishing consequences for their own disciplines.

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Scientists discover way to make quantum states last 10,000 times longer
    https://phys.org/news/2020-08-scientists-quantum-states-longer.html

    Reply
  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IBM hits new quantum computing milestone
    https://www.zdnet.com/article/ibm-hits-new-quantum-computing-milestone/

    The company has achieved a Quantum Volume of 64 in one of its client-deployed systems, putting it on par with a Honeywell quantum computer.

    Reply
  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    TICK TOCK
    TIME CRYSTAL DISCOVERY COULD CHANGE THE FUTURE OF QUANTUM COMPUTING
    Researchers observed the interaction of a strange state of matter for the first time.
    https://www.inverse.com/innovation/time-crystals-quantum-computing-study

    PHYSICISTS ARE USED TO DEALING WITH SOME OF THE VERY WEIRDEST FORMS OF MATTER AND IDEAS in our known world, from levitating superconducting materials to the mind-bending theory of time dilation. But even for physicists, time crystals are strange.

    Reply
  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Quantum coherence breakthrough: 10,000 times longer
    https://www.futuretimeline.net/blog/2020/08/15-quantum-coherence-10000-times-longer.htm

    Universal coherence protection has been achieved in a solid-state spin qubit – a modification that allows quantum systems to stay operational (“coherent”) for 10,000 times longer than before.

    Reply
  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    THE WIRED GUIDE TO QUANTUM COMPUTING
    Everything you ever wanted to know about qbits, superpositioning, and spooky action at a distance.

    Google, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft have all expanded their teams working on the technology, with a growing swarm of startups such as Rigetti in hot pursuit. China and the European Union have each launched new programs measured in the billions of dollars to stimulate quantum R&D. And in the US, the Trump White House has created a new committee to coordinate government work on quantum information science. Several bills were introduced to Congress in 2018 proposing new funding for quantum research, totalling upwards of $1.3 billion. It’s not quite clear what the first killer apps of quantum computing will be, or when they will appear. But there’s a sense that whoever is first make these machines useful will gain big economic and national security advantages.

    https://www.wired.com/story/wired-guide-to-quantum-computing/

    Reply
  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Scientists Extend Quantum States by 22 Milliseconds. That’s an Eternity.
    Do you know what a computer can do in that time?
    https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a33628698/scientists-extend-quantum-state-22-milliseconds/

    Reply
  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IBM hits new quantum computing milestone
    The company has achieved a Quantum Volume of 64 in one of its client-deployed systems, putting it on par with a Honeywell quantum computer.
    https://www.zdnet.com/article/ibm-hits-new-quantum-computing-milestone/

    quantum computing milestone, hitting its highest Quantum Volume to date. Using a 27-qubit client-deployed system, IBM achieved a Quantum Volume of 64.

    Reply
  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    TIME CRYSTAL DISCOVERY COULD CHANGE THE FUTURE OF QUANTUM COMPUTING
    Researchers observed the interaction of a strange state of matter for the first time.
    https://www.inverse.com/innovation/time-crystals-quantum-computing-study

    Reply
  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Scientists discover way to make quantum states last 10,000 times longer
    https://phys.org/news/2020-08-scientists-quantum-states-longer.html

    A team of scientists at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering announced the discovery of a simple modification that allows quantum systems to stay operational—or “coherent”—10,000 times longer than before. Though the scientists tested their technique on a particular class of quantum systems called solid-state qubits, they think it should be applicable to many other kinds of quantum systems and could thus revolutionize quantum communication, computing and sensing.

    This small change allowed the system to stay coherent up to 22 milliseconds, four orders of magnitude higher than without the modification—and far longer than any previously reported electron spin system. (For comparison, a blink of an eye takes about 350 milliseconds). The system is able to almost completely tune out some forms of temperature fluctuations, physical vibrations, and electromagnetic noise, all of which usually destroy quantum coherence.

    The simple fix could unlock discoveries in virtually every area of quantum technology, the scientists said.

    Reply
  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Quantum mechanics is immune to the butterfly effect
    That could help with the design of quantum computers
    https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2020/08/15/quantum-mechanics-is-immune-to-the-butterfly-effect

    Reply
  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A new quantum paradox throws the foundations of observed reality into question
    https://phys.org/news/2020-08-quantum-paradox-foundations-reality.html

    If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Perhaps not, some say.

    And if someone is there to hear it? If you think that means it obviously did make a sound, you might need to revise that opinion.

    We have found a new paradox in quantum mechanics—one of our two most fundamental scientific theories, together with Einstein’s theory of relativity—that throws doubt on some common-sense ideas about physical reality.

    Quantum mechanics vs common sense

    Take a look at these three statements:

    When someone observes an event happening, it really happened.
    It is possible to make free choices, or at least, statistically random choices.
    A choice made in one place can’t instantly affect a distant event. (Physicists call this “locality.”)
    These are all intuitive ideas, and widely believed even by physicists. But our research, published in Nature Physics, shows they cannot all be true—or quantum mechanics itself must break down at some level.

    Reply
  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What Intel Is Planning for The Future of Quantum Computing: Hot Qubits, Cold Control Chips, and Rapid Testing
    https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/hardware/intels-quantum-computing-plans-hot-qubits-cold-control-chips-and-rapid-testing

    Quantum computing may have shown its “supremacy” over classical computing a little over a year ago, but it still has a long way to go. Intel’s director of quantum hardware, Jim Clarke, says that quantum computing will really have arrived when it can do something unique that can change our lives, calling that point “quantum practicality.” Clarke talked to IEEE Spectrum about how he intends to get silicon-based quantum computers there

    Reply
  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Quantum Escapism
    How quantum mechanics gives me a refuge from reality
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/quantum-escapism/

    Reply
  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    RESEARCH ARTICLE
    Hartree-Fock on a superconducting qubit quantum computer
    https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6507/1084.full

    Reply
  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Cosmic rays may soon stymie quantum computing
    https://phys.org/news/2020-08-cosmic-rays-stymie-quantum.html

    The practicality of quantum computing hangs on the integrity of the quantum bit, or qubit.

    Quantum computers, if they can be scaled to accommodate many qubits on one processor, could be dizzyingly faster, and able to handle far more complex problems, than today’s conventional computers.

    But that all depends on a qubit’s integrity, or how long it can operate before its superposition and the quantum information are lost—a process called decoherence, which ultimately limits the computer run-time. Superconducting qubits—a leading qubit modality today—have achieved exponential improvement in this key metric, from less than one nanosecond in 1999 to around 200 microseconds today for the best-performing devices.

    But researchers at MIT, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have found that a qubit’s performance will soon hit a wall. In a paper published in Nature, the team reports that the low-level, otherwise harmless background radiation that is emitted by trace elements in concrete walls and incoming cosmic rays are enough to cause decoherence in qubits. They found that this effect, if left unmitigated, will limit the performance of qubits to just a few milliseconds.

    Given the rate at which scientists have been improving qubits, they may hit this radiation-induced wall in just a few years. To overcome this barrier, scientists will have to find ways to shield qubits—and any practical quantum computers—from low-level radiation, perhaps by building the computers underground or designing qubits that are tolerant to radiation’s effects.

    Reply
  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Quantum Computing Performance May Soon Hit a Wall, Due to Interference From Cosmic Rays
    https://scitechdaily.com/quantum-computing-performance-may-soon-hit-a-wall-due-to-interference-from-cosmic-rays/

    Building quantum computers underground or designing radiation-proof qubits may be needed, researchers find.

    Reply
  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    US announces $1 billion research push for AI and quantum computing
    White House backs AI and quantum for national security
    https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/26/21402274/white-house-ai-quantum-computing-research-hubs-investment-1-billion

    COMPARING SPENDING ON AI AND QUANTUM RESEARCH IS DIFFICULT

    White House announces creation of AI and quantum research institutes
    https://venturebeat.com/2020/08/26/white-house-announces-creation-of-ai-and-quantum-research-institutes/

    Reply
  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Researchers on a path to build powerful and practical quantum computer
    https://phys.org/news/2020-08-path-powerful-quantum.html

    For the first time, researchers have designed a fully connected 32-qubit trapped-ion quantum computer register operating at cryogenic temperatures. The new system represents an important step toward developing practical quantum computers.

    Reply
  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What Intel Is Planning for The Future of Quantum Computing: Hot Qubits, Cold Control Chips, and Rapid Testing
    https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/hardware/intels-quantum-computing-plans-hot-qubits-cold-control-chips-and-rapid-testing

    Reply
  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Adapting ideas from quantum physics to calculate alternative interventions for infection and cancer
    https://phys.org/news/2020-08-ideas-quantum-physics-alternative-interventions.html

    Reply
  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google conducts largest chemical simulation on a quantum computer to date
    https://phys.org/news/2020-08-google-largest-chemical-simulation-quantum.html

    Reply
  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Emil Protalinski / VentureBeat:
    Xanadu launches its quantum cloud platform with photonic quantum processors with 8 to 12-qubit chips, expects to “roughly double” cloud qubits every 6 months

    Xanadu launches quantum cloud platform, plans to double qubits every 6 months
    https://venturebeat.com/2020/09/02/xanadu-photonics-quantum-cloud-platform/

    Reply
  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Verizon reveals quantum networking trials
    The technology would help secure the network
    https://www.cnet.com/news/verizon-reveals-quantum-networking-trials/?ftag=CAD090e536&bhid=20035345449657381409697266932077&mid=13025453&cid=534936198

    Verizon is expanding a test of quantum computing technology that the carrier believes could help secure its networks. A pilot project of a technology called quantum key distribution in Washington DC was successful, so Verizon it will now test it across the US.

    Quantum computing could solve some computing problems impossible for conventional machines, the most famous being an ability to crack conventional encryption, at least if engineers can make quantum computers vastly more powerful than today’s research projects. But Verizon is exploring a different way that the physics of the ultrasmall could be useful — protecting those encrypted network connections.

    Quantum key distribution a more mature technology than quantum computing, lets two parties share the encryption keys used to secure their communications. A key element of the technology is the ability to detect if somebody else is trying to get access, too.

    “Quantum-based technology can strengthen data security today and in the future,” said Nicki Palmer, chief product innovation officer at Verizon.

    Reply
  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google’s Quantum Computer Achieves Chemistry Milestone
    A downsized version of the company’s Sycamore chip performed a record-breaking simulation of a chemical reaction

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/googles-quantum-computer-achieves-chemistry-milestone/

    Reply
  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Japanese researchers carry out quantum teleportation within a diamond.

    Scientists achieve teleportation breakthrough
    Japanese researchers carry out quantum teleportation within a diamond.
    PAUL RATNER
    https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/scientists-achieve-teleportation-breakthrough?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

    Scientists from the Yokohama National University in Japan achieved the feat of teleporting quantum information within a diamond. Their study is an important step in the field of quantum information technology.

    “Quantum teleportation permits the transfer of quantum information into an otherwise inaccessible space,” shared Kosaka. “It also permits the transfer of information into a quantum memory without revealing or destroying the stored quantum information.”

    The “inaccessible space” explored in the study was the lattice of carbon atoms in a diamond. The strength of the structure stems from the diamond’s organization that has six protons and six neutrons in the nucleus, with six spinning electrons around it. As they bond to the diamond, the atoms form a super-strong lattice.

    Reply
  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Now anyone can use a photonic quantum computer, as Xanadu connects their optical chip to the cloud.

    First Photonic Quantum Computer on the Cloud
    https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/hardware/photonic-quantum

    Quantum computers based on photons may possess key advantages over those based on electrons. To benefit from those advantages, quantum computing startup Xanadu has, for the first time, made a photonic quantum computer publicly available over the cloud.

    Reply
  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ‘Quantum supremacy’: China claims super computer million times faster than record
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=12364403

    A Chinese physicist claimed to have built a quantum computer that would leave Western competitors in the dust, but he and his team said they needed to “further verify” the claim.

    Reply

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