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Category Archives: Quantum Computing

Information overload: The promise and risk of quantum computing – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Posted: November 17, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Google recently announced a breakthrough in quantum computing. Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, reportedly compared the achievement to the Wright brothers' first flight. Credit: Composite by Matt Field. (Creative Commons photos by Maurizio Pesce and Steve Jurvetson.)

The English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon is often credited with saying knowledge is power. Although Bacons aphorism is still in circulation, the 16th century thinker clearly didnt predict the advent of the modern-day search engine. Now knowledge is so readily available that information overload, rather, is a problem. Perhaps a more meaningful maxim would be something along the lines of: The ability to sort and process large amounts of knowledge is power. And that ability will be dramatically increasedfor good and illas researchers make progress in the field of quantum computing.

The international security community in particular has been grappling with the implications of access to vast troves of information. Twentieth century practitioners prioritized scientific efforts that improved technologies such as the surveillance drone to collect data. In the 21st century, however, the security community is dealing with the ramifications of those effortsthe need to process the huge amounts of data that drones, satellites, and other technologies can acquire. But in the age of big data and information technologies, practitioners face a challenging new paradigm: Government isnt necessarily at the forefront of development in data processing technology; private industry is. Policy makers must confront the uncomfortable reality that the future of national security now relies on the governments ability to oversee, regulate, and adopt the research and emerging technologies developed by private companies.

Case in point: Google recently claimed to have achieved so-called quantum supremacy, marking an important development in a perennially just-over-the-horizon technology that could dramatically improve the speed at which computers can complete complex tasks. Its also a technology that, if used by adversarial countries, could disrupt important aspects of US national security such as data protection.

Googles claim of quantum supremacy. Googles announcement was another milestone in the international competition to harness data processing technologies like artificial intelligence. Although the significance of the companys accomplishment has been challenged by industry competitors, the announcement at least confirms the steady progress and commitment of private industry leaders to the development of technologies that could have major implications for national security. Quantum supremacy refers to a benchmark indicating that a quantum system can perform a given function faster than a classic computer. Google developed a quantum processor with 53 operational qubitsthe principle unit of information in a quantum computerthat successfully completed a computationally intensive task in only 200 seconds. Google scientists estimated it would take the most powerful classical supercomputer over 10,000 years to complete the same task.

At this point, quantum computers are still mostly being built and tested to execute specific and carefully chosen tasks that could, in theory, be executed classically. The technological limitations of quantum computing are such that accomplishing a given task requires a custom built and programmed quantum computing system. This means that each iterative achievement will likely be respective of the highly specific task that each individually developed quantum computer will be built for and potentially respective of the specific method of operation applied. This technical reality, taken in the context of the standing definition for quantum supremacy, implies there may be several announcements by groups claiming that theyve achieved this or that quantum supremacy.

The necessary progress to definitively surpass classic computers and achieve universal quantum supremacy, rather than piecemeal quantum supremacy, will require both hardware and software improvements. Even after significant innovation, it is highly unlikely that quantum computers will ever replace classical versions for most day-to-day operations. Rather, clever implementation will see the two working most effectively as complements to each other.

Impact on national security. The most suitable applications for quantum computers are problems with large, multi-dimensional parameter spaces that require the manipulation and optimization of significant numbers of independent variables. Consider the ways important national security information is protected and accessed, in technical terms, the ways it is encrypted and decrypted. Due to the high processing power of quantum computers, modern encryption methods that would take classic computers a long time to break would be rendered useless. The unique physical properties of proposed quantum computers would allow them to seek all possible solutions to an encryption algorithm simultaneously, giving an answer that reflects the probability of each outcome. This ability puts national-security-sensitive data at risk. In fact, hackers are already banking on this potentiality and storing available data until some point in the future when the data may be decrypted with quantum computers.

Beyond data processing and manipulation, through increased simulation and computation capabilities, quantum computers could help advance a number of scientific fields, including materials sciences. From improving drone battery-life to solving military logistics issues, researchers are predicting any number of national security applications for quantum computing.

More broadly, quantum computers could augment other emerging information technologies in the security field, like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Likewise, developments in these fields would also lead to an acceleration of quantum computer research. The interconnectedness of these emerging information technologies, and the fact that an improvement in any one of the technologies in the competition for big data primacy would accelerate the others, means it will be critical that governments monitor all information technology research and identify likely coevolution trajectories in order to secure data and infrastructure necessary for national security.

Googles achievement signals another inflection point in that national governments are falling behind private industry as the leading developers of military-relevant technology. Unlike historical technologies that have revolutionized national security, quantum computing research is being driven by robust private industries in both China and the United Statesthe two countries frequently engaged in whats sometimes called the quantum computer arms race.

Although this shift in innovation influence may not necessarily be a bad thingit could prevent broadly relevant technologies from being siloed by the military communityit does require that military and national security practitioners adjust technology development strategies, including addressing the economic and skill barriers to adapting civilian technologies for military application.

Its also worth noting that the focus on civilian development of quantum computers might lead to asymmetric capabilities favoring offensive (operational and manipulative) rather than defensive (protective) technologies. For instance, private industries are most focused on developing quantum computers and less focused on developing quantum-safe encryption methods. This could result in a misbalance between offensive and defensive capabilities that could be catastrophic for national security if the scale tips too far. Governments must proactively identify and prioritize innovation in areas underfunded by the private sector that will be necessary to maintain national security infrastructure.

The US governments approach. In September 2018, the White House issued a national strategy on quantum information science that included near- and long-term development goals. The high-level overview identified a number of specific priorities set by the federal government, including bolstering the national economic, research, and education infrastructure required for quantum information technology development. It also called for collaborating with private industry and with other countries. Congress then passed the National Quantum Initiative Act to allocate funding for a national strategy that fosters public-private-academic partnerships. To address a key vulnerability of the post-quantum-supremacy world, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology is driving the development of quantum-safe encryption methods, an area that has not received comparable resources from private industry. The agencys timeline suggests that the earliest draft of these encryption algorithms and standards will be completed by 2022.

National security priorities. The fact that there was controversy over Googles claim to quantum supremacy indicates that the terminology used to discuss quantum computing is weak and vague. Given the hardware and software limits preventing universal supremacy, the importance of any given instance of quantum supremacy is related to the function that the quantum computer can perform. Striking a proactive and reactive balance to new developments will requires that government project leaders accept that (at least for now) universal quantum computers capable of performing a wide variety of functions are likely decades away from being developed. National security thinkers should instead identify which specific types of supremacy will have meaningful impacts. One that can perform decryption faster than a traditional computer, for instance, would be highly disruptive.

Googles announcement and quantum computing writ large must be considered as part of the broader big data competition. The development of different emerging information technologies, and their respective impacts on national security, must not be considered in isolation. A significant development in any one of the rising technologies will likely have a domino effect and trigger innovation progress in other areas. The promise of quantum computing is the vast new knowledge it will unlock.

Thats also the risk.

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D-Wave sticks with its approach to quantum computing – TechCrunch

Posted: at 2:17 pm

Earlier this month, at the WebSummit conference in Lisbon, D-Wave and Volkswagen teamed up to manage a fleet of buses using a new system that, among other things, used D-Waves quantum technology to help generate the most efficient routes. While D-Waves 2000Q only played a small part in this process, its nevertheless a sign that quantum computing is slowly getting ready for production use and that D-Waves approach, somewhat controversial in its early days, is paying off.

Unlike other players in the quantum computing market, D-Wave always bet on quantum annealing as its core technology. This technology lends itself perfectly to optimization problems like the kind of routing problem the company tackled with VW, as well as sampling problems, which, in the context of quantum computing, are useful for improving machine learning models, for example. Depending on their complexity, some of these problems are nearly impossible to solve with classical computers (at least in a reasonable time).

Grossly simplified, with quantum annealing, you are building a system that almost naturally optimizes itself for the lowest energy state, which then represents the solution to your problem.

Microsoft, IBM, Rigetti and others are mostly focused on building gate-model quantum computers and they are starting to see results (with the exception of Microsoft, which doesnt have a working computer just yet and is hence betting on partnerships for the time being). But this is also a far more complex problem. And while you cant really compare these technologies qubit to qubit, its telling that D-Waves latest machines, the Advantage, will feature 5,000 qubits while the state of the art among the gate-model proponents is just over 50. Scaling these machines up is hard, though, especially given that the industry is still trying to figure out how to manage the noise issues.

D-Wave remains the only major player thats betting on annealing, but the companys CEO Vern Brownell remains optimistic that this is the right approach. We feel more strongly about our decision to do quantum annealing now that there are a few companies that actually have quantum computers that people can access, he said in an interview earlier this month.

We have customers, Volkswagen included, that have run problems against those other computers and seeing what they can actually do and its vastly different. Our capability is many orders of magnitude faster for most problems than what you can do with other quantum computers. And that is because of the choice of quantum annealing. And that is because quantum healing is more robust to errors. Error correction, he argues, remains the fundamental problem, and will hamper the performance of these systems for the foreseeable future. And in order to move into the enterprise or any kind of practical application, that error correction needs to be wrestled with, he noted.

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Dell Technologies on democratising 5G and the future of quantum computing – ZDNet

Posted: at 2:17 pm

Michael Dell said he would like to think his company has been a force for good in terms of democratising access to technology and making it more available to everyone.

Speaking with media this week during the Dell Technologies Summit in Austin, the CEO and his president and CTO of products and operations John Roese, said it's important that tech isn't reserved for the elite.

"The lever that you can pull -- it has always worked -- is broad availability to the technology and so something like 5G, our aspiration, we're doing a lot of work right now. Michael specifically, we're trying to basically bend the curve on the economics of 5G by aggressively moving towards virtualisation and simplification," Roese added.

"The net result of that is If we can drive the economic model so that we can flatten that, make it less of a premium product for only the elite, but make it available to everybody -- that's obviously good for us and good for the industry."

According to Roese, it also opens up opportunities for people to change the education cycle.

"Imagine, you know, underdeveloped environments, or even populations that are literally being able to do holographic or AR-based experiences at a cost-effective level -- it changes the curve," he said.

"I was on the board when they got One Laptop per Child in the 2000s, and the whole fact of making children literate, who couldn't even read and write with a piece of technology was because we drove the cost of compute way down, we made it generally available."

Roese said Dell Technologies' goal is not to create technology for five people, in a unit volume of three, rather it's to make it available everywhere.

"And the way that we do it is standardisation, basically making it easy to consume, driving the cost out of it and making it accessible," he said "That lever spawns the innovation cycle that can actually change things like poverty, change literacy rates, and we have good evidence that when that happens, that's exactly what occurs.

"And this next cycle, trust me, we have no other goal, than broad adoption of these technologies."

When asked during a media session what Dell Technologies was doing in the quantum computing space, Dell said "it could go either way".

"We believe the physics are sound, and something will happen in the quantum world that will be a disruption," Roese said, clarifying the company's position. "There are three conditions that have to be true before any kind of adoption."

The first, he said, is an industry-wide agreement on a quantum computing architecture, which is yet to happen with sufficient scale; the second is that quantum computing has to be made to work in the real world.

"We have huge activity going on in the industry around trapped ions, trapped charged particles, trapped photons, that work has not been done -- it is too esoteric to do," he continued.

The third is the development of a software framework and how quantum will be experienced.

"The good news is all three of those are happening, we're working with most of those companies -- I just did a bit of a tour a couple of weeks ago with most of the quantum startups in the world and they are basically on a journey that over the next, let's say five years, we will start to see incremental breakthroughs. They will be very, very narrow -- kind of like the equivalent of like vacuum tube era of technology is what's happening now," Roese said.

See also: Australia's ambitious plan to win the quantum race

Roese pointed to Google's recent announcement, and said the only thing the search giant's "breakthrough" did was create a random number generator, which is something that's never been achieved in a classical computer.

"Now it's not usable for anything yet, but those kind of breakthroughs will happen, but it will happen over a long cycle," he said.

"We are observing, we are engaged, we think this will manifest as an accelerator in the cloud that you'll do certain mathematical functions -- it will not replace your generalised compute infrastructure, probably ever, but it will be interesting over time.

"We're watching it closely, we're involved in it, but if you're worried about changing your entire IT architecture and your strategy and your investment portfolio because of quantum -- don't do that. we will let you know -- my commitment to Michael is I'll give him two to three years notice before he has to decide to do R&D in this space and that's not happening."

Asha Barbaschow travelled to Dell Technologies Summit as a guest of Dell Technologies.

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How Serious Is the Threat of Quantum Computing to Crypto? – Finance Magnates

Posted: at 2:17 pm

The science of quantum physics is being used to build quantum computerspowerful machines that have the ability to solve incredibly complex mathematical equations much more quickly than even the most advanced computers available today.

As such, any data thats encrypted using mathematical equationsincluding banking data, intelligence data protected by the government, and encrypted messages on cell phonesis vulnerable to being exposed by quantum computing. Most notably, in this case, encrypted cryptocurrency datasuch as private wallet keysare also vulnerable to quantum computing technology.

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In other words, quantum computing could potentially be used to uncover every private key on a blockchain network, thus rendering that networks users vulnerable to hacking and theft.

Therefore, the point in time at which quantum computers can solve problems that ordinary computers cannotalso known as the quantum supremacyis considered to be a serious threat to the security of blockchain networks.

How far away are we from this quantum supremacy?

Last week, joked Kadan Stadelmann, CTO of Komodo, a multichain architecture project, to Finance Magnates.

In any case, jokes apart, from a technical standpoint we have to consider the quantum supremacy era already here now. The industry leaders in this area have already publicly presented functional two to three-figure qubit chips, which means with unlimited resources and space this could be scaled up quite fast.

Google, for example, just presented how their 54 Qubit chip performed a computation which would take the worlds most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years in just 200 seconds. This doesnt even cover the non-public segment of this industry.

What are qubits? While a classical computer uses bits, which are represented either 0s or 1s. Qubits, on the other hand, can be 0s or 1sor both at different times. Qubits are the thing that make quantum computers so powerful: if a normal computer is operating with four bits, that computer could arrange those bits in any of 16 combinations, one after the other, in order to solve an equation.

With four qubits, however, a quantum computer could arrange four qubits into 16 combinations all at one time. According to Decrypt, just 20 qubits can store more than a million values in parallel, which allows a quantum computer to be able to work through a problem by performing calculations in parallel rather than one at a time.

However, Vlad Miller, CEO of the Ethereum Express company, explained that blockchain network ledgers are not susceptible to hacking by quantum computers.

Today, records of all cryptocurrency transactions are stored on blockchain. Since the copies of the data are distributed among all users, they are almost impossible to change, he said. No data block can be removed or modified without affecting all other blocks, which would require the consent of most network users. In this sense, blockchain is resistant to quantum computers, and the growth of computing power will not affect the security of the system.

Indeed, the threat posed by quantum computers is more likely to concern the vulnerability of personal cryptocurrency accounts or wallets. These powerful computers can hack user codes that are used to authorize transactions.

[] Until recently, this was considered mathematically impossible, Miller continued. An ordinary binary computer is not able to crack a cryptocurrency key, but for quantum machines, this is not difficult because of the incredible computing power.

Charles Phan, Charles Phan, CTO of Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange Interdax, also pointed out to Finance Magnates that the SHA-256 function used in mining is another area where quantum computers could influence bitcoin [and] crypto. However, the risk is much lower here.

An adversary with a quantum computer could also direct it towards mining bitcoin if they achieve 51% control of the hash power, then they can permit double-spending and do what it likes. They could also cause damage to the network if they control a significant proportion less than 51%.

How immediate is the threat of quantum computing to blockchain networks, and what can these networks do to protect themselves?

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Eventually, quantum computers will force changes in cryptocurrency systems, but todays quantum computers exist only in the lab and are a long way from having practical impacts on cryptocurrencies, said Edward Felten, Co-Founder and Chief Scientist of Offchain Labs, a second-layer scaling solution for Ethereum, to Finance Magnates. Ed is also the former White House Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer.

Over time, cryptocurrencies will need to evolve to use different encryption and hashing methods that are quantum-resistant. Crypto communities should be talking about how to do this, but its not yet an emergency.

At what point will it become an emergency? Vlad Miller said that although the United States National Security Agency predicted in 2016 that decades would pass before quantum computers pose a serious threat to encrypted information, given the pace of development of this technology over the past year and a half, the conclusions of the NSA seem overly optimistic. In fact, many experts believe that the threat will arise in the next 15 or even 10 years.

Therefore, a number of blockchain projects are already preparing for this quantum supremacy.

Kadan Stadelmann explained that while [quantum computers] certainly pose a long-term threat to most cryptocurrencies in their current form, the more legitimate projects are already deploying countermeasures in the form of quantum-proof cryptography.

Even already existing cryptocurrency networks will be able to migrate to quantum-resistant algorithms and digital signature schemes, he said.

Therefore, by the time quantum computers are available to the wider public, expect most remaining cryptocurrencies to have already made the leap into the quantum-resistance movement (so to speak.)

However, this may be easier said than donemetaphorically [speaking], pre-existing chains can already flip a switch and immediately deploy a quantum-resistance mechanism, Stadelmann said to Finance Magnates. However, networks that have historically found it difficult to reach consensus on important software upgrades (for example, the Bitcoin network) could potentially run into trouble.

If a quantum computer breaks this cryptography used by Bitcoin, anyone who has re-used a bitcoin address is vulnerable, Charles Phan explained. However, the information a quantum computer needs isnt available until the first transaction from a public key is seen, so individuals who use a different public key each time would be safe.

Still, though, quantum processors threaten only the modern generation of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, Vlad Miller explained to Finance Magnates.

To protect them, users will have to switch to new authentication methods for authorizing transactions in blockchain-based networks.

Indeed, the solution to this problem will be new methods of cryptography resistant to quantum computing. Today many crypto companies are developing a wide range of such solutions. Some of them are based on long-discovered mathematical methods, such as Lamports signatures, Merkle structures, and the sharing of secrets.

Therefore, it is quite likely that blockchain networks will be secure from the threat that quantum computing poses. Platforms will change their locks once quantum computers start to move out of the lab, said Matthew Hine, Business Strategist at Radix., to Finance Magnates.

But everyone should be very hesitant to publicly publish encrypted information with the expectation that it will be secret forever.

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D-Wave sticks with its method to quantum computing – Market Research Reporting

Posted: at 2:17 pm

Earlier this month, on the WebSummit convention in Lisbon, D-Wave and Volkswagen teamed as much as handle a fleet of buses utilizing a brand new system that, amongst different issues, used D-Waves quantum expertise to assist generate probably the most environment friendly routes. Whereas D-Waves 2000Q solely performed a small half on this course of, its nonetheless an indication that quantum computing is slowly preparing for manufacturing use and that D-Waves method, considerably controversial in its early days, is paying off.

In contrast to different gamers within the quantum computing market, D-Wave at all times guess on quantum annealing as its core expertise. This expertise lends itself completely to optimization issues just like the form of routing downside the corporate tackled with VW, in addition to sampling issues, which, within the context of quantum computing, are helpful for enhancing machine studying fashions, for instance. Relying on their complexity, a few of these issues are practically unimaginable to unravel with classical computer systems (a minimum of in an affordable time).

Grossly simplified, with quantum annealing, you might be constructing a system that nearly naturally optimizes itself for the bottom power state, which then represents the answer to your downside.

Microsoft, IBM, Rigetti and others are principally centered on constructing gate-model quantum computer systems and theyre beginning to see outcomes (apart from Microsoft, which doesnt have a working laptop simply but and is therefore betting on partnerships in the intervening time). However that is additionally a much more advanced downside. And whilst you cant actually examine these applied sciences qubit to qubit, its telling that D-Waves newest machines, the Benefit, will characteristic 5,000 qubits whereas the cutting-edge among the many gate-model proponents is simply over 50. Scaling these machines up is tough, although, particularly on condition that the trade continues to be making an attempt to determine how one can handle the noise points.

D-Wave stays the one main participant thats betting on annealing, however the firms CEO Vern Brownell stays optimistic that that is the appropriate method. We really feel extra strongly about our resolution to do quantum annealing now that there are just a few firms that truly have quantum computer systems that folks can entry, he stated in an interview earlier this month.

Now we have clients, Volkswagen included, which have run issues towards these different computer systems and seeing what theyll truly do and its vastly completely different. {Our capability} is many orders of magnitude sooner for many issues than what you are able to do with different quantum computer systems. And thats due to the selection of quantum annealing. And thats as a result of quantum therapeutic is extra strong to errors. Error correction, he argues, stays the elemental downside, and can hamper the efficiency of those methods for the foreseeable future. And in an effort to transfer into the enterprise or any form of sensible software, that error correction must be wrestled with, he famous.

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Hedera Hashgraph (HBAR) Founder Says Quantum Computing Is Not a Threat to Cryptocurrency, Although That Claim Is Debatable Crypto.IQ | Bitcoin and…

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Dr. Leemon Baird, the Founder of Hedera Hashgraph (HBAR) which is a relatively new cryptocurrency that boasts 10,000 transactions per second, has claimed that quantum computing is no threat to cryptocurrency at the Web Summit 2019.

The debate over quantum computing is popping up due to Google and NASA researchers creating the first computer that has achieved quantum supremacy, meaning it can perform a specific but non-useful task faster than the worlds top supercomputer. Specifically, the quantum computer performed a task in 200 seconds that would take the worlds top supercomputer 10,000 years to perform.

This has re-ignited fears that one day quantum computers will be strong enough to break through top encryption algorithms, which could theoretically cause all cryptocurrencies to be compromised.

Dr. Baird compares this situation to Y2K, saying like Y2K; yes, we had to make some changes to software at Y2K. Was it the end of the world? Actually, no. Dr. Baird goes on to describe how quantum computers may take over a decade to become powerful enough to crack Bitcoins (BTC) cryptography, and at that point Bitcoin (BTC) and all other cryptocurrencies could switch to a new encryption algorithm.

Indeed, as Dr. Baird points out, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is holding a contest to find the best new encryption algorithm, and Dr. Baird thinks that cryptocurrencies could easily switch to that algorithm when quantum computing becomes a real threat.

However, it is debatable as to whether quantum computing is no threat at all. Even Dr. Baird admits quantum computing will one day be strong enough to crack the cryptography of cryptocurrencies, just that they could easily switch algorithms by then.

It remains to be seen if any classical computing algorithm will be strong enough to withstand quantum computers, since there may come a point where quantum computers are becoming exponentially more powerful. Ultimately, quantum cryptography may be the only long term answer, and that would require everyone to have quantum computers.

The question then becomes, how long will it take for the public to have quantum computers and therefore access to quantum cryptography, after the first quantum computers are made which can crack top classical encryption algorithms?

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Quantum Computing: The Why and How – insideHPC

Posted: November 3, 2019 at 2:46 pm

In this video from the Argonne Training Program on Extreme-Scale Computing 2019, Jonathan Baker from the University of Chicago presents: Quantum Computing: The Why and How.

The Argonne Training Program on Extreme-Scale Computing (ATPESC) provides intensive, two weeks of training on the key skills, approaches, and tools to design, implement, and execute computational science and engineering applications on current high-end computing systems and the leadership-class computing systems of the future. As a bridge to that future, this two-week program fills the gap that exists in the training computational scientists typically receive through formal education or other shorter courses. With around 70 participants accepted each year, admission to the ATPESC program is highly competitive. ATPESC is part of the Exascale Computing Project, a collaborative effort of the DOE Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Jonathan Baker is a second year Ph.D student at The University of Chicago advised by Fred Chong. He is studying quantum architectures, specifically how to map quantum algorithms more efficiently to near term devices. Additionally, he is interested in multivalued logic and taking advantage of quantum computings natural access to higher order states and using these states to make computation more efficient. Prior to beginning his Ph.D., he studied at the University of Notre Dame where he obtained a B.S. of Engineering in computer science and a B.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics.

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Opinion | Quantum supremacy and the cat thats neither alive nor dead – Livemint

Posted: at 2:46 pm

There is this joke about a cat that belonged to a gentleman called Schrdinger: Schrdingers cat walks into a bar. And doesnt."

If you chuckled, you must have been a student of quantum physics. Austrian physicist Erwin Schrdingers Cat Theory is a paradox that explains the seeming contradiction between what we see with our naked eye and what quantum theory says actually is in its microscopic state. He used this to disprove something called the Copenhagen Interpretation" of quantum mechanics. This interpretation states that a particle exists in all states at once until observed". Schrdingers cat is in a box and could be alive or dead. But, till the box is opened, you wont know its state. This would mean that the cat could be both alive and dead at the same time.

Now, hold that thought while we leap from cats to computers. The ones that we use now follow the principles of a Turing machine. Here, information is encoded into bits (either 1s or 0s) and one can apply a series of operations (and, or, not) to those bits to perform any computation. A quantum computer is different, it uses qubits or the quantum analogue of bits. Now, jump back to the cat. Much like the feline in Schrdingers box, a qubit is not always 0 or 1, but can be both at the same time. Only at the end of the computation or when the box is opened, would you know which, but during the computation process, its exact state is indeterminate.

If this leaves you scratching your head, do not fret. In a 2017 Wall Street Journal interview, here is what Bill Gates said: I know a lot of physics and a lot of math. But the one place where they put up slides and it is hieroglyphics, its quantum." Even Einstein had some difficulty grasping the concept and famously dismissed it with, God does not play dice with the universe."

What makes a quantum computer exciting is its ability to exploit these properties of quantum physics to perform certain calculations far more efficiently and faster than any supercomputer. Thus, megacorps such as Microsoft, IBM, and Google have been working on quantum computers. Last week, Google claimed to have achieved quantum supremacy, or the point when such a computer can perform a calculation that a traditional one cannot complete within its lifetime. Googles quantum computer took 200 seconds for a calculation that would take a supercomputer 10,000 years.

While all this is impressive, what does it mean for us? Its hard to fully answer this, as we are venturing into an entirely new area, and the future will reveal applications we have not even imagined yet. Its a bit like classical computing. We did not know how it will totally revolutionize our world. In the same manner, quantum computing could be a game-changer for many industries.

Take big data and analytics. We produce 3 exabits of data every day, equivalent to 300,000 Libraries of Congress. Classical computers are reaching their limits of processing power. However, with exponentially more powerful quantum computers, we could spot unseen patterns in large data sets, integrate data from different data sets, and tackle the whole problem at once. This would be rocket fuel for artificial intelligence (AI), with quantum computing offering quick feedbacks and collapsing the learning curve of machines. This will make AI more intuitive, expand to various industries and help build artificial general intelligence.

Online security will be impacted, with our current data encryption strategies wilting under the assault of quantum power. On the other hand, there will be formidable new cryptographic methods like quantum key distribution, where even if the message gets intercepted, no one can read it (the Cat, again). On a side note, the security of every public blockchain will be under threat from quantum hacks. It was no coincidence that Bitcoins price slumped the day Google announced its breakthrough. Quantum computing could speed up drug development by reviewing multiple molecules simultaneously, quickly sequencing individual DNAs for personalized drugs. Another application lies in weather forecasting and, more importantly, climate-change predictions. It will require the tremendous power of quantum computing to create complex, ever-changing weather models to properly predict and respond to the climate cataclysm that awaits us.

Its a brave new world of quantum computing were entering, and we will discover its possibilities as we go along. If you feel youve got it but are still confused, thats okayit is the nature of this beast. Just step out of the box.

Jaspreet Bindra is a digital transformation and technology expert, and the author of the book The Tech Whisperer

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IBM picked a fight with Google over its claims of ‘quantum supremacy.’ Here’s why experts say the feud could shake up the tech industry’s balance of…

Posted: at 2:46 pm

Most people probably couldn't tell you what quantum computing is. And, as we learned last week from an unusual public spat between tech companies, it turns out that the top quantum-computing engineers aren't so sure either.

It all started when Google researchers published a paper in the journal Nature declaring that they achieved "quantum supremacy" a breakthrough in computing speed so radical that, to use a fictional analogy, it might be akin to attaining hyperspace travel speed.

But before the champagne had even been poured, IBM was disputing Google's claims with a blog post, insisting that, technically,"quantum supremacy" hadn't really been reached.

Quantum computers have special properties that allow them to solve problems exponentially faster than even the most powerful computers today. Google researchers said their quantum computer solved a problem in 200 seconds that would take a powerful supercomputer 10,000 years to solve a potential game changer for fighting climate change, discovering drugs, predicting the stock market, and cracking the toughest encryption.

Quantum computing is still in its infant stages, and you won't find it in your office anytime soon, but investors and researchers see huge potential in it. Already, companies like Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Intel are racing tobuild quantum computers, while venture capitalists are pouring money into startups like IonQ, Rigetti Computing, Aliro, and D-Wave.

The feud between IBM and Google is in many ways academic. But it also highlights the prominence and importance within the industry of a technology considered science fiction just a decade ago. As computing technology gets pushed to its limits, new technology like quantum computing has the potential to open entirely new markets and shake up the balance of powers in the tech industry.

And while Google and IBM are taking different approaches to quantum, the rival claims underscore the seriousness with which each company views the technology.

"Google is doing things as a research project," Brian Hopkins, the vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, told Business Insider. "IBM has a commercial strategy, pouring money in to get money out. They want to get to a point where quantum computers are powerful enough so people are willing to pay money to solve problems."

At the same time, rivals like Microsoft, Intel, and quantum-computing startups are lauding Google's experiment and see it as a good sign for quantum computing.

Jim Clarke, Intel's director of quantum hardware, with one of the company's quantum processors. Intel

"We're beginning to have a discussion that a quantum computer can do something that a supercomputer does not," Jim Clarke, the director of quantum hardware at Intel, told Business Insider. "It motivates us that we're on the right path. There's still a long way to go to get to a useful quantum computer. I think this is a positive step along the way."

Computer experts told Business Insider it would take time to prove whether Google did, in fact, reach this benchmark and whether IBM's disputes were correct.

IBM, which built Summit, the most powerful supercomputer, said the experiment could be run by a supercomputer in 2 1/2 days, as opposed to the 10,000 years Google said would be required with a traditional computing technology.

In other words, even though Google's quantum computer is faster, if it were true that the supercomputer could run that same problem in 2 1/2 days, it would not be that large of a difference. Running a problem that takes 10,000 years to solve is impractical, but if it took 2 1/2 days to solve, it would not be that big of a deal.

"The conflict between Google and IBM highlights that there's some ambiguity in the definition of quantum supremacy," Bill Fefferman, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Chicago, told Business Insider.

Still, Google's work shows the progress of quantum computing, and people shouldn't lose sight of that, despite the arguments about it, Martin Reynolds, the distinguished vice president at Gartner, said.

That being said, since quantum computing is still in its early days, Google's milestone is "a bit like being the record holder in the 3-yard sprint," Reynolds said.

Fefferman added that the "jury is still out" on whether Google has actually reached quantum supremacy, but not because of anything IBM said.

"While it's not completely clear to me that there's currently enough evidence to conclude that we've reached quantum supremacy, Google is certainly breaking new ground and going places people have not gone before," Fefferman said.

And though Google's experiment is a "major scientific breakthrough," it has little influence on commercial users today, Matthew Brisse, the research vice president at Gartner, said.

"It demonstrates progress in the quantum community, but from an end-user perspective, it doesn't change anyone's plans or anyone's project initiatives because we're still many years away," Brisse told Business Insider. "We're literally five to 10 years away from using this in a commercial production environment."

In general, IBM and Google's competitors told Business Insider they saw the experiment as a step forward.

"This is an exciting scientific achievement for the quantum industry and another step on a long journey towards a scalable, viable quantum future," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.

Rigetti Computing CEO Chad Rigetti. YouTube/Y Combinator

Chad Rigetti, the founder and CEO of the startup Rigetti Quantum Computing, called Google's experiment a "remarkable achievement" that should give researchers, policymakers, investors, and other users more confidence in quantum computing.

He added that IBM's claims haven't been tested on actual hardware yet, and even if it were proved, it would still be slower and more expensive to run than on Google's quantum computer.

"The Google experiment is a landmark scientific achievement and the most important milestone to date in quantum computing," Rigetti told Business Insider. "It shows that real commercial applications are now within sight for superconducting qubit systems."

Clarke, of Intel, agreed that it was a positive for the quantum community overall, though he said that calling it "quantum supremacy" might be debatable. Clarke also said that it could show that quantum computers could be more efficient, as he suspects that Google's quantum computer uses much less power than running a Summit supercomputer for over two days.

"What's been interesting to me is seeing some of the negative reactions to this announcement," Clarke told Business Insider. "If you're in the quantum community, any good experiment that suggests there's a long future in quantum computing should be appreciated. I haven't quite understood some of the negative response at this point."

What happens next is that other scientists will review the paper, work to prove or disprove it, and debate whether quantum supremacy has been reached. Ines Montano, an associate professor of applied physics at Northern Arizona University, said IBM would likely work to prove that its supercomputer could run that experiment in a shorter time frame.

"IBM will have to figure out something to put some data to their claim," Montano told Business Insider. "That will be a very public discussion for a while. In the meantime, there's the quest is to find problems that may be more applicable to current things ... We're not as far away as we were thinking 10 years ago."

This will likely take some time, as quantum supremacy is difficult to prove. Still, quantum computing is still in its early stages, experts say, and they expect more advancements in the coming years. Experts predict that the industry is still at least 10 years away from useful quantum computers.

"Google's managed to find a complex problem that they can solve on this system," Reynolds told Business Insider. "It isn't a useful solution, but it is a big step forwards. IBM offers a way to solve the problem with classical hardware in a couple of days. That's also impressive and shows the caliber of thinking that we find in these early quantum programs."

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Editorial: Quantum computing is a competition we can’t afford to lose – The Winchester Star

Posted: at 2:46 pm

We Americans have a habit of bragging about our feats of technology. Our chief economic and military rivals namely Russia and China seldom do. They prefer to keep their secrets.

No one in this country is certain, then, how far the state-controlled economies of those nations have gone in developing quantum computing.

What is certain is that our national security, both militarily and economically, demands that the United States be first to perfect the technology. The reason for that was demonstrated in an announcement Wednesday by technology giant Google.

Google officials claim to have achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing. They say they have developed an experimental quantum computing processor capable of completing a complex mathematical calculation in less than four minutes.

Google says it would take the most advanced conventional supercomputer in existence about 10,000 years to do that.

Wrap your mind around that, if you can.

Other companies working with quantum computing, including IBM, Intel and Microsoft, say Google is exaggerating. IBM researchers told The Associated Press the test calculation used by Google actually could be handled by certain supercomputers in two and one-half days.

Still, you get the idea: Quantum computing will give the nation including its armed forces and industries that gets there first an enormous advantage over everyone else. The possibilities, ranging from near-perfect missile defense systems to vastly accelerated research on curing diseases, are virtually endless.

U.S. officials are cognizant of the ramifications of quantum computing, to the point that Washington has allocated $1.2 billion to support research during the next five years.

If that is not enough to ensure the United States stays in the lead in the quantum computing race, more should be provided. This is a competition we cannot afford to lose.

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