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Category Archives: Quantum Computing
Posted: July 21, 2020 at 12:38 pm
Appropriators said the bills $23 billion allocation for NASA is aimed primarily at furthering investments into human space exploration, which also means investing in future astronauts. The bill sets aside $126 million of NASAs total for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics educationfunds the White House had proposed cutting.
The National Science Foundation would receive nearly $9 billion in funding, up $270 million from the enacted level in fiscal 2020.
These funds will foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, the committee said, including funding for research on artificial intelligence, quantum information science, advanced manufacturing, physics, mathematics, cybersecurity, neuroscience, and STEM education.
Appropriators are seeking to use the nearly $25 billion legislation funding the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to assist in antitrust investigations of Silicon Valley and to understand where rural Americans lack internet access.
The bill boosts the FTCs budget by $10 million, for a total of $341 million, to aidits antitrust enforcement work amid ongoing investigations by federal and state regulators into major technology firms such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. A committee press release singles out antitrust enforcement and consumer protection work as justification for the increase.
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Posted: at 11:46 am
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Canadian quantum computing company D-Wave Systems is launching its cloud service in India, giving developers and researchers in the country real-time access to its quantum computers.
Through this geographic expansion, D-Waves 2000Q quantum computers, hybrid solvers and the application environment can be used via its cloud platform Leap to drive development of business-critical and in-production hybrid applications.
Quantum computing is poised to fundamentally transform the way businesses solve critical problems, leading to new efficiencies and profound business value in industries like transportation, finance, pharmaceuticals and much more, Murray Thom, VP of Software and Services at D-Wave, said in a statement.
The future of quantum computing is in the cloud. Thats why we were eager to expand Leap to India and Australia, where vibrant tech scenes will have access to real-time quantum computers and the hybrid solver service for the first time, unlocking new opportunities across industries.
As part of this rollout, users in India and Australia can work on the D-Waves Leap and Leap 2 platforms.
The two cloud platforms offer updated features and tools, including hybrid solver service that can solve large and complex problems of up to 10,000 variables; and integrated developer environment that has a prebuilt, ready-to-code environment in the cloud configured with the latest Ocean SDK for quantum hybrid development in Python.
D-Waves systems and software have been used in financial modelling, machine learning and route optimization.
Its latest launch in India comes about a year after the countrys Department of Science and Technology (DST) chalked out plans to build its own quantum computers.
In early 2019, DST launched a programme focused on quantum computing, called Quantum-Enabled Science and Technology (QuEST). As part of QuEST, India earmarked 80 crore investment to be spent over a span of three years to facilitate research in setting up quantum computers.
A year later, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Union Budget 2020 Speech, announced a National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NM-QTA) with an outlay of 8,000 crore for the next five years.
Quantum technology is opening up new frontiers in computing, communications, cyber security with wide-spread applications, Sitharaman said in her Budget Speech.
It is expected that lots of commercial applications would emerge from theoretical constructs which are developing in this area.
NM-QTAs focus, as outlined by the minister, will be in fundamental science, translation, technology development and, human and infrastructural resource generation.
Other areas of quantum computing applications will include aero-space engineering, numerical weather prediction, simulations, securing communication and financial transactions, cyber-security, and advanced manufacturing.
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UWMadison named member of new $25 million Midwest quantum science institute – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Posted: at 11:46 am
As joint members of a Midwest quantum science collaboration, the University of WisconsinMadison, the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign and the University of Chicago have been named partners in a National Science Foundation Quantum Leap Challenge Institute, NSF announced Tuesday.
The five-year, $25 million NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Hybrid Quantum Architectures and Networks (HQAN) was one of three in this first round of NSF Quantum Leap funding and helps establish the region as a major hub of quantum science. HQANs principal investigator, Brian DeMarco, is a professor of physics at UIUC. UWMadison professor of physics Mark Saffman and University of Chicago engineering professor Hannes Bernien are co-principal investigators.
HQAN is very much a regional institute that will allow us to accelerate in directions in which weve already been headed and to start new collaborative projects between departments at UWMadison as well as between us, the University of Illinois, and the University of Chicago. says Saffman, who is also director of the Wisconsin Quantum Institute. These flagship institutes are being established as part of the National Quantum Initiative Act that was funded by Congress, and it is a recognition of the strength of quantum information research at UWMadison that we are among the first.
Quantum computing uses the principles of quantum physics to develop computing power that even the most powerful conventional supercomputers cannot match. Quantum computers could, for example, solve complex logistics deployment problems or help to discover new life-saving medicines. Although quantum computers work differently than their classical counterparts, they can be made more powerful by connecting smaller modules in a hybrid network, analogously to how conventional computers are linked together via the internet.
At the HQAN institutions, there are several people developing different ways of processing and storing quantum information. Each approach might be better at one thing and not so good at something else, Saffman says. Were asking, can we hook together these different types of hardware to synthesize a stronger system with a hybrid approach?
HQAN research activities at UWMadison will be conducted by groups throughout the Wisconsin Quantum Institute and include faculty in physics, chemistry and the College of Engineering.
We are excited that UWMadison is a partner in this first round of competitive funding through the National Quantum Initiative Act, says Steve Ackerman, UWMadison vice chancellor for research and graduate education. This award allows us to continue to build on the momentum of the newly formed Wisconsin Quantum Institute at UW and the campuss growing efforts in the physics of quantum information systems.
it is a recognition of the strength of quantum information research at UWMadison that we are among the first.
Another focus of HQAN is on quantum science outreach, education and corporate partnerships, which will be headed by Shimon Kolkowitz, assistant professor of physics at UWMadison.
Quantum science is a rapidly growing area of research, but also industry, so theres a need for executives, entrepreneurs and investors to understand the potential impacts of quantum science, and theres a huge demand for a growing quantum workforce, Kolkowitz says. Quantum is weird and counterintuitive, and you dont encounter it until the last couple of years of an undergraduate physics degree. There will be real benefits and payoffs to exposing children and high schoolers and undergraduates in all different fields to concepts in quantum science.
HQAN will adapt and build off of longstanding, successful outreach and educational programs at the member institutions. These programs include The Wonders of Quantum Physics, modeled off of the nearly 40-year-old program The Wonders of Physics at UWMadison as well as UIUCs LabEscape, a quantum-themed physics escape room, and the University of Chicagos Teach Quantum program, which helps high school science teachers develop quantum-related curricula for their schools.
Additionally, HQAN is connecting with undergraduate and graduate degree programs, such as UWMadisons Masters in Physics: Quantum Computing and a proposed undergraduate specialization in quantum science at UIUC. The institute will also work with Chicago State University to place students in funded research internships at the three member universities.
HQAN also includes partnerships with Fermilab, MIT Lincoln Labs, and Air Force Research labs, as well as several corporate partners and collaborations, including American Family Insurance and ColdQuanta, which have offices in Madison. These partnerships will help guide HQAN research toward industry applications and provide researchers with access to emerging products, as well as provide internships for HQAN students.
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Pasqal and EDF partner to study smart-charging challenges with Quantum Computing – Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source
Posted: at 11:45 am
Quantum computers have the potential to solve hard computational problems more efficiently than their classical counterparts. Applications notably encompass computational drug design, materials science, machine learning, and optimization problems. With the rapid developments of quantum hardware, practical quantum advantage is within reach.
With many cities turning to e-mobility to tackle environmental challenges, electric utilities have to account for a growing and more complex load to manage for their production facilities and the grid. One example is the need to schedule resource allocation for shared electric vehicles while taking into considerations their expected and real time availability as well as charging constraints. This class of problem is computationally hard to solve even with large supercomputers and it is expected that a quantum algorithm called Quantum Approximate Optimization Algorithm (QAOA) could improve its resolution.
EDF made smart charging and the development of its infrastructures one of the strong point of its Electric Mobility Plan, launched in October 2018. EDF views smart charging as a true asset for electric vehicles users and for the electrical system. Through its subsidiaries, IZIVIA and DREEV, the EDF Group already provides V2G solutions.
Through its Pulse Explorer Program, EDF R&D routinely reaches out to start-ups to explore new ideas in a collaborative way. EDF and Pasqal have formalized a partnership to explore how this algorithm could be implemented on the neutral atoms quantum processor developed at Pasqal and take benefit from its unique properties.
The core of the partnership is to finely tune the algorithms according to the hardwares possibilities and to mitigate the impact of the errors. The level of performance will be gauged on a classical emulator, prior to a real hardware implementation.
Loc Henriet, head of software development at Pasqal explained: we have developed our full software stack with specific tools for generic optimization problems, but it is very important that we engage directly with partners working on applications. We need to focus on practical use cases to show that quantum processors can provide a real advantage.
Marc Porcheron, head of EDF R&Ds Quantum Computing project, said: utilities such as EDF have to be at the forefront of innovation in high performance computing. It is great to collaborate with Pasqal to explore the new possibilities opened by Quantum Computing for hard optimization problems like the ones we face in the decisive field of smart-charging. I am impressed with the results that have already been achieved with Pasqal, and look forward to implement on their upcoming hardware the quantum algorithms we investigate together.
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Posted: at 11:45 am
Three of our gang, you see, were women. On our second morning, all three found their periods had kicked in. They were so charmed and amused by this that they forgot any possible cramps or migraines. This was, they told us ignorant men, menstrual synchrony" the tendency for women who live together to begin menstruating on the same day every month. In 1971, a psychologist called Martha McClintock studied 180 women in a college dormitory. Menstrual synchrony, she concluded then, was real.
Now, this really didnt apply that weekend in NYC, because these ladies had only spent one day together. Besides, more recent research has questioned McClintocks findings. Even so, those long-ago NYC days came back to me after reading about some even more recent research, at IIT Kanpur. Not about menstruation, but about synchronization, and in the quantum world.
Whats synchronization? Imagine an individual a bird, a pendulum doing a particular motion over and over again. The bird is flapping its wings as it flies, the pendulum is swinging back and forth. Imagine several such individuals near each other, all doing the same motion several birds flying together in a flock, several pendulums swinging while hanging from a beam. When they start out, the birds are flapping to their own individual rhythms, the pendulums going in different directions. But then something beautiful happens: these individual motions synchronize. The birds flap in perfect coordination, so the flock moves as one marvellous whole. The pendulums swing in harmony.
In fact, synchronization was first observed in pendulums. In 1665, the great Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens attached two pendulum clocks to a heavy beam. Soon after, the two pendulums were in lockstep.
Similarly, fireflies are known to break into spontaneous synchrony. When there are just one or a few, they light up at different timesa pleasant enough sight, but nothing to write home about. But there are spots in the coastal mangroves of Malaysia and Indonesia where whole hosts of the little insects congregate every evening and suddenly, synchrony happens. They switch on and off in perfect unison, putting on a light show like none youve seen.
There are, yes, other examples. At a concert, the audience will tend to applaud in sync. The reason we only ever see one side of the Moon is that the orbital and rotational periods of the Moon have, over time, synchronized with the rotation of our Earth. Your heart beats because the thousands of pacemaker" cells it contains pulse in synchrony. Some years ago, a bridge of a new and radical design was built over the Thames in London. When it was opened, people swarmed onto it on foot. It quickly started swaying disconcertingly from side to side enough, in turn, to force the pedestrians to walk in a certain awkward way just to keep their footing. On video, youll see hundreds of people on the bridge, all walking awkwardly but in step.
In his book Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, the mathematician Steven Strogatz writes: At the heart of the universe is a steady, insistent beat: the sound of cycles in sync. It pervades nature at every scale from the nucleus to the cosmos." He goes on to observe that this tendency for synchronization does not depend on intelligence, or life, or natural selection. It springs from the deepest source of all: the laws of physics". And thats where IIT Kanpur comes in.
In 2018, a team of Swiss researchers looked at the possibility of synchronization at the lower end of that scale that Strogatz mentions, or in some ways even off that end of the scale. Do the most elementary, fundamental particles known to physicists exhibit the same tendency to synchronize as somewhat larger objects such as starlings and pendulums and the moon? Were talking about electrons and neutrons, particles that occupy the so-called quantum" world. Can we get them to synchronize?
They concluded that the smallest quantum particles actually cannot be synchronized. These exhibit a spin"a form of angular momentum, in a sense the degree to which the particle is rotating of 1/2 (half). But there are ways in which such spin-half" particles can combine to form a spin-1" system, and the Swiss team predicted that these combinations are the smallest quantum systems that can be synchronized.
So, a physics research group at IIT Kanpur decided to test this prediction. These are guys, I should tell you, who are thoroughly accustomed to working with atoms: One day in 2016, their professor, Dr Saikat Ghosh, took me into their darkened lab and pointed to a small red glow visible in the middle of their apparatus. Thats a group of atoms," he said with a grin, and then tweaked some settings and the glow dropped out of sight. The point? They are able to manipulate atoms. On another visit, they underlined this particular skill by showing me their work with graphene, a sheet of carbon that is get this one atom thick.
So, after the Swiss prediction, Ghosh and his students took a million atoms of rubidiuma soft, silvery metal and cooled them nearly to whats known as absolute zero", or -273 Celsius. Could they get these atoms to show synchrony?
Lets be clear about what they were dealing with, though. The usual objects that synchronize pendulums, birds are called oscillators" because they are in some regular, rhythmic motion. Strictly, it is that motion of the oscillators that synchronizes. But were dealing here with objects we can see, which means the rules of classical" physics apply. Quantum objects like atoms behave differently. In fact, Ghosh told me that spin-1 atoms are not really oscillating in the same sense as pendulums and starlings in flight. Still, with that caveat in place, there are ways in which we can abstract their motion and treat them as oscillators.
In their experiment, the IIT team shot pulses of light at the group of rubidium atoms. Light is made up of photons, which are like minuscule bundles of energy. When they hit an atom, they flip" its spin. Embodied in that flip is the photons quantum information; in a real way, the photons are actually stored in these flipped atoms. This happens with such precision that you can later flip the atoms back and release the photons, thus retrieving" the stored light. In fact, with this storage and retrieval behaviour, the atoms are like memory cells, and this is part of the mechanism of quantum computing. (See my column from October 2018, Catch a quantum computer and pin it down).
But when the atoms are flipped and they store these photons, something else happens to them. When the light is retrieved, the IIT team found it displays interference fringes" a characteristic pattern of light and shadow (similar in concept to what causes stripes on tigers and zebras, or patterns in the sand on a beach). From this fringe pattern, the scientists can reconstruct the quantum state the atoms were inand voil, theres synchrony.
Did each individual atom synchronize to the light and since all one million atoms did so, is that how they are synchronized with each other as well? Thats to be tested still, but its a good way to think of what happened. Again, take fireflies. In one experiment, a single flashing LED bulb was placed in a forest. When the fireflies appeared, they quickly synchronized to the flashing bulb, and therefore to each other. As Dr Ghosh commented: two fireflies synchronizing is interesting, but an entire forest filled with fireflies lighting up in sync reveals new emergent patterns."
There are implications in all this for, among other things, quantum computing. The IIT teams paper remarks; [The] synchronization of spin-1 systems can provide insights in open quantum systems and find applications in synchronized quantum networks." (Observation of quantum phase synchronization in spin-1 atoms, by Arif Warsi Laskar, Pratik Adhikary, Suprodip Mondal, Parag Katiyar, Sai Vinjanampathy and Saikat Ghosh, published 3 June 2020).
There will be other applications too. But over 350 years after Christiaan Huygens stumbled on classical" synchronization, the IIT team has shown for the first time that this strangely satisfying behaviour happens in the quantum world too. No wonder their paper was chosen recently for special mention in the premier physics journal, Physical Review Letters.
A round of applause for the IIT folks, please. I know it will happen in synchrony.
Once a computer scientist, Dilip DSouza now lives in Mumbai and writes for his dinners. His Twitter handle is @DeathEndsFun
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Menten AIs combination of buzzword bingo brings AI and quantum computing to drug discovery – TechCrunch
Posted: July 5, 2020 at 10:11 am
Menten AI has an impressive founding team and a pitch that combines some of the hottest trends in tech to pursue one of the biggest problems in healthcare new drug discovery. The company is also $4 million richer with a seed investment from firms including Uncork Capital and Khosla Ventures to build out its business.
Menten AIs pitch to investors was the combination of quantum computing and machine learning to discover new drugs that sit between small molecules and large biologics, according to the companys co-founder Hans Melo.
A graduate of the Y Combinator accelerator, which also participated in the round alongside Social Impact Capital*, Menten AI looks to design proteins from scratch. Its a heavier lift than some might expect, because, as Melo said in an interview, it takes a lot of work to make an actual drug.
Menten AI is working with peptides, which are strings of amino acid chains similar to proteins that have the potential to slow aging, reduce inflammation and get rid of pathogens in the body.
As a drug modality [peptides] are quite new, says Melo. Until recently it was really hard to design them computationally and people tried to focus on genetically modifying them.
Peptides have the benefit of getting through membranes and into cells where they can combine with targets that are too large for small molecules, according to Melo.
Most drug targets are not addressable with either small molecules or biologics, according to Melo, which means theres a huge untapped potential market for peptide therapies.
Menten AI is already working on a COVID-19 therapeutic, although the companys young chief executive declined to disclose too many details about it. Another area of interest is in neurological disorders, where the founding team members have some expertise.
Image of peptide molecules. Image Courtesy: D-Wave
While Menten AIs targets are interesting, the approach that the company is taking, using quantum computing to potentially drive down the cost and accelerate the time to market, is equally compelling for investors.
Its also unproven. Right now, there isnt a quantum advantage to using the novel computing technology versus traditional computing. Something that Melo freely admits.
Were not claiming a quantum advantage, but were not claiming a quantum disadvantage, is the way the young entrepreneur puts it. We have come up with a different way of solving the problem that may scale better. We havent proven an advantage.
Still, the company is an early indicator of the kinds of services quantum computing could offer, and its with that in mind that Menten AI partnered with some of the leading independent quantum computing companies, D-Wave and Rigetti Computing, to work on applications of their technology.
The emphasis on quantum computing also differentiates it from larger publicly traded competitors like Schrdinger and Codexis.
So does the pedigree of its founding team, according to Uncork Capital investor, Jeff Clavier. Its really the unique team that they formed, Clavier said of his decision to invest in the early-stage company. Theres Hans the CEO who is more on the quantum side; theres Tamas [Gorbe] on the bio side and theres Vikram [Mulligan] who developed the research. Its kind of a unique fantastic team that came together to work on the opportunity.
Clavier has also acknowledged the possibility that it might not work.
Can they really produce anything interesting at the end? he asked. Its still an early-stage company and we may fall flat on our face or they may come up with really new ways to make new peptides.
Its probably not a bad idea to take a bet on Melo, who worked with Mulligan, a researcher from the Flatiron Institute focused on computational biology, to produce some of the early research into the creation of new peptides using D-Waves quantum computing.
Novel peptide structures created using D-Waves quantum computers. Image Courtesy: D-Wave
While Melo and Mulligan were the initial researchers working on the technology that would become Menten AI, Gorbe was added to the founding team to get the company some exposure into the world of chemistry and enzymatic applications for its new virtual protein manufacturing technology.
The gamble paid off in the form of pilot projects (also undisclosed) that focus on the development of enzymes for agricultural applications and pharmaceuticals.
At the end of the day what theyre doing is theyre using advanced computing to figure out what is the optimal placement of those clinical compounds in a way that is less based on those sensitive tests and more bound on those theories, said Clavier.
*This post was updated to add that Social Impact Capital invested in the round. Khosla, Social Impact, and Uncork each invested $1 million into Menten AI.
Solving problems by working together: Could quantum computing hold the key to Covid-19? – ITProPortal
Posted: at 10:11 am
Given the enormous potential for quantum computing to change the way we forecast, model and understand the world, many are beginning to question whether it could have helped to better prepare us all for a global pandemic such as the Covid-19 crisis. Governments, organisations and the public are continuing the quest for answers about when this crisis will end and how we can find a way out of the current state of lockdown, and we are all continuing to learn through incremental and experimental steps. It certainly seems plausible that the high compute simulation capabilities of our most revolutionary technology could hold some of the answers and enable us to respond in a more coherent and impactful way.
Big investments have already been made in quantum computing, as countries and companies battle to create the first quantum supercomputer, so they can harness the power of this awesome technology. The World Economic Forum has also recognised the important role that this technology will play in our future, and has a dedicated Global Future Council to drive collaboration between public and private sector organisations engaged in the development of Quantum Computing. Although its unlikely to result in any overnight miracles, its understandable that many are thinking about whether these huge efforts and investments can be turned towards the mutual challenge we face in finding a solution to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are already some ground-breaking use-cases for quantum computing within the healthcare industry. Where in the past some scientific breakthroughs such as the discovery of penicillin came completely by accident, quantum computing puts scientists in a much stronger position to find what they were looking for, faster. Quantum raises capacity to such a high degree that it would be possible to model penicillin using just a third of the processing power a classical computer would require to do the job meaning it can do more with less, at greater speed.
In the battle against Covid-19, the US Department of Energys Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is already using quantum supercomputers in its search for drug compounds that can treat the disease. IBM has also been using quantum supercomputers to run simulations on thousands of compounds to try and identify which of them is most likely to attach to the spike that Covid-19 uses to inject genetic material into healthy cells, and thereby prevent it. It has already emerged with 77 promising drugs that are worth further investigation and development progress that would have taken years if traditional computing power had been used.
Other businesses are likely to be keen to follow in the footsteps of these examples, and play their own part in dealing with the crisis, but to date its only been the worlds largest organisations that have been using quantum power. At present, many businesses simply dont have the skills and resources needed to fabricate, verify, architect and launch a large-scale quantum computer on their own.
It will be easier to overcome these barriers, and enable more organisations to start getting to work with quantum computing, if they open themselves up to collaboration with partners, rather than trying to go it alone. Instead of locking away their secrets, businesses must be willing to work within an open ecosystem; finding mutually beneficial partnerships will make it much more realistic to drive things forward.
The tech giants have made a lot of early progress with quantum, and partnering with them could prove extremely valuable. Google, for example, claims to have developed a machine that can solve a problem in 200 seconds that would take the worlds fastest supercomputer 10,000 years imagine adding that kind of firepower to your computing arsenal. Google, IBM and Microsoft have already got the ball rolling by creating their own quantum partner networks. IBM Q and Microsoft Quantum Network bring together start-ups, universities, research labs, and Fortune 500 companies, enabling them to enjoy the benefits of exploring and learning together. The Google AI quantum initiative brings together strong academia support along with start-up collaboration on open source frameworks and tools in their lab. Collaborating in this manner, businesses can potentially play their own part in solving the Covid-19 crisis, or preventing future pandemics from doing as much damage.
Those that are leading the way in quantum computing are taking a collaborative approach, acknowledging that no one organisation holds all the answers or all the best ideas. This approach will prove particularly beneficial as we search for a solution to the Covid-19 crisis: its in everyones interests to find an exit to the global shutdown and build knowledge that means we are better-prepared for future outbreaks.
Looking at the bigger picture, despite all the progress that is being made with quantum, traditional computing will still have an important role to play in the short to medium term. Strategically, it makes sense to have quantum as the exploratory left side of the brain, while traditional systems remain in place for key business-as-usual functions. If they can think about quantum-related work in this manner, businesses should begin to feel more comfortable making discoveries and breakthroughs together. This will allow them to speed up the time to market so that ideas can be explored, and new ground broken, much faster than ever before and thats exactly what the world needs right now.
Kalyan Kumar, CVP & CTO, IT Services, HCL Technologies
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Posted: at 10:11 am
By Tirthankar Dutta
On October 23rd, 2019, Google claimed that they had achieved Quantum supremacy by solving a particularly difficult problem in 200 seconds by using their quantum computer, which is also known as "sycamore." This performance was compared with a Supercomputer known as 'Summit" and built by IBM. According to Google, this classical computer would have taken 10,000 years to solve the same problem.
The advancement of large quantum computers, along with the more computational power it will bring, could have dire consequences for cybersecurity. It is well known that important problems such as factoring, whose considered hardness ensures the security of many widely used protocols (RSA, DSA, ECDSA), can be solved efficiently, if a quantum computer that is sufficiently large, "fault-tolerant" and universal, is developed. However, addressing the imminent risk that adversaries equipped with quantum technologies pose is not the only issue in cybersecurity where quantum technologies are bound to play a role.
Because quantum computing speeds up prime number factorization, computers enabled with that technology can easily break cryptographic keys by quickly calculating or exhaustively searching secret keys. A task considered computationally infeasible by a conventional computer becomes painfully easy, compromising existing cryptographic algorithms used across the board. In the future, even robust cryptographic algorithms will be substantially weakened by quantum computing, while others will no longer be secure at all:
There would be many disconnects on the necessity to change the current cryptographic protocols and infrastructure to counter quantum technologies in a negative way, but we can't deny the fact that future adversaries might use this kind of technology to their benefit. As it allows them to work on millions of computations in parallel, exponentially speeding up the time it takes to process a task.
According to the National, Academies Study notes, "the current quantum computers have very little processing power and are too error-prone to crack today's strong codes. The future code-breaking quantum computers would need 100,000 times more processing power and an error rate 100 times better than today's best quantum computers have achieved. The study does not predict how long these advances might takebut it did not expect them to happen within a decade."
But does this mean that we should wait and watch the evolution of quantum computing, or should we go back to our drawing board to create quantum-resistant cryptography? Thankfully, researchers have been working on a public-key cryptography algorithm that can counter code-breaking efforts by quantum computers. US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) evaluating 69 potential new methods for what it calls "post-quantum cryptography." The institution expects to have a draft standard by 2024, which would then be added to web browsers and other internet applications and systems
No matter when dominant quantum computing arrives, it poses a large security threat. Because the process of adopting new standards can take years, it is wise to begin planning for quantum-resistant cryptography now.
The author is SVP and Head of Information Security at Infoedge.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETCIO.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETCIO.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.
Posted: June 24, 2020 at 6:30 am
An ambitious plan to build a quantum computer the size of a soccer field could soon become a reality. A startup founded by the researchers behind the idea has just come out of stealth with $4.5 million in funding.
While there has been some headline-grabbing progress in quantum computing in recent yearsnot least Googles announcement that it had achieved quantum supremacy todays devices are still a long way from being put to practical use.
The reason quantum computers are so promising is their potential to solve problems beyond the reach of even the most powerful supercomputers. While bits in a conventional computer can only adopt the values of 1 or 0, the qubits at the heart of a quantum computer can adopt multiple combinations of 1 or 0 at the same time thanks to the quantum mechanical phenomena of superposition.
Another quantum phenomena called entanglement makes it possible to link many of these qubits together. The combination means that while a conventional computer would have to chug through the numbers sequentially, an ideal quantum computer could sort through every possible combination of 1s or 0s instantly.
Given their complexity, though, this is only useful for problems so big that it would take a conventional computer a very long time to work through. That requires a lot of qubits, far more than anyone has managed to string together so far. The superconducting qubits that industry leaders like Google, IBM, and D-Wave use are also noisy, so its expected that wed need even more qubits to carry out error-correction as well.
The difficulty of scaling up these devices is the reason why people often talk of decades before we see practical uses for quantum computers. But in 2017 researchers from the University of Sussex in the UK put forward a bold plan for a modular quantum computer that could quickly scale up to billions of qubits. And now a startup founded by the same team, called Universal Quantum, has come out of stealth with plans to commercialize the idea.
The company is taking a different tack to the market leaders, building its qubits out of trapped ionscharged atoms confined in a particular spot using using electromagnetic fieldsrather than the superconducting circuits that have become the most popular solution in recent years.
Trapped ions are promising because they are all identical and therefore dont suffer from the tiny variations in fabrication that can impact superconducting circuits. Its also possible to push them into particular states and read those states back out with high fidelity. And most importantly, they are able to maintain their fragile quantum states for much longer than other approaches, which gives them more time to carry out calculations.
But combining large numbers of trapped ions in a single device while still maintaining control of them has proven tricky, and circuits made up of trapped ions are much slower than alternative technologies. Most designs so far also require individual lasers to control each qubit, which quickly gets impractical for devices with thousands if not millions of qubits.
Universal Quantum plans to get round this by using microwaves to control the qubits, relying on the same technology that is found in cell phones. They plan to build modular components of roughly 2,500 qubits which can then be linked together to create larger systems.
A downside to this modular approach is that the links between modules can be far slower than the quantum operations going on inside them, even using optical links that run at the speed of light. The company plans to get around this by instead shuttling the ions themselves around the system.
While they havent set any kind of timeline for when they might have a working device up and running, the founders of Universal Quantum told the BBC they are confident the technical capability exists to build the machine. The say the funds theyve raised so far will be used to find a site and key staff, but that theyll have to raise a lot more money to get the job done.
Betting against some of the largest and most powerful technology companies in the world is certainly a risky strategy. But if this plucky startup can pull off its vision, the quantum age may not be as distant as we think.
Image Credit: Winfried Hensinger
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Quantum computing has the promise to reshape industries by unleashing computing power well beyond what traditional computers have. Logistics, pharmaceuticals and financial services all stand to benefit from applying the new technology.
JPMorgan Chase (ticker: JPM) published data last week about one of its quantum-computing experiments demonstrating the banks growing expertise in that realm. The academic-style paper is a little Byzantine, but investors should pay attention, because they will be hearing more about quantum computing from other players, including Honeywell (HON), Microsoft (MSFT) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) in the near future.
In this paper, we present a novel, canonical way to produce a quantum oracle from an algebraic expression, the authors of the JPMorgan paper wrote. Thats a mouthful. Canonical, in this instance, appears to mean authoritative. And according to Microsoft, a quantum oracle is a is a black box operation that is used as input to another algorithm.
Microsofts definition only raises more questions and probably doesnt help many of the uninitiated, Barrons included. Classically, an oracle answers questions about the future. That isnt a bad analogy for quantum computing. The technology is mysterious and its power not completely understood by many peopleinvestors included.
The use of a quantum oracle, in this instance, makes doing complicated math with fibonacci numbers easier than with traditional computing systems. Fibonacci numbers form a sequence in which each number is the sum of the prior two. The sequences have applications in investing and information security, among other areas.
The Morgan team ran their experiment on the new Honeywell computer based on trapped-ion technology with quantum volume 64.
Honeywell has the hardware. And just before the JPMorgan paper was released, the industrial conglomerate announced it had created the worlds most powerful quantum computer, achieving a quantum volume of 64. Essentially, Honeywell has successfully tethered six q-bits, or quantum bits, together.
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Quantum volume is an industry term. The number 64 comes from 2 raised to the power of 6. A big reason quantum computers can do more is the q-bits can have two values at the same time. Six bits can have, essentially, 64 states at once. Quite frankly, its all a little confusing.
Today, quantum computers can still be beaten in most applications by traditional computers. But quantum power is growing. The first Wright brother flight went 600 meters, Christopher Savoie, founder and CEO of quantum computing firm Zapata Computing, said. He was explaining how to think of the current generation of quantum-computing technology. The Wright brothers flight happened in 1903 and by 1918 there were air forces around the globe.
Zapata partners with Honeywell to help develop quantum programs, applications and algorithms. Zapata helps with the software running on Honeywell hardware used by JPMorgan.
The capability of [quantum computing] is exponential, Savoie said. There is a hockey-stick-like pattern that develops as more q-bits are added to the system. It will be tough to find an area of human activity where this wont help.
It is a little mind bending. But paying attention early will give investors an edge down the road.
JPMorgan stock was down more than 2% last week, worse than the 1.9% and 1% respective gains of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 over the same span. Honeywell shares gained 0.6% last week.
Write to Al Root at email@example.com