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What Is Quantum Computing? The Complete WIRED Guide | WIRED

Big things happen when computers get smaller. Or faster. And quantum computing is about chasing perhaps the biggest performance boost in the history of technology. The basic idea is to smash some barriers that limit the speed of existing computers by harnessing the counterintuitive physics of subatomic scales.

If the tech industry pulls off that, ahem, quantum leap, you wont be getting a quantum computer for your pocket. Dont start saving for an iPhone Q. We could, however, see significant improvements in many areas of science and technology, such as longer-lasting batteries for electric cars or advances in chemistry that reshape industries or enable new medical treatments. Quantum computers wont be able to do everything faster than conventional computers, but on some tricky problems they have advantages that would enable astounding progress.

Its not productive (or polite) to ask people working on quantum computing when exactly those dreamy applications will become real. The only thing for sure is that they are still many years away. Prototype quantum computing hardware is still embryonic. But powerfuland, for tech companies, profit-increasingcomputers powered by quantum physics have recently started to feel less hypothetical.

The cooling and support structure for one of IBM’s quantum computing chips (the tiny black square at the bottom of the image).

Amy Lombard

Thats because Google, IBM, and others have decided its time to invest heavily in the technology, which, in turn, has helped quantum computing earn a bullet point on the corporate strategy PowerPoint slides of big companies in areas such as finance, like JPMorgan, and aerospace, like Airbus. In 2017, venture investors plowed $241 million into startups working on quantum computing hardware or software worldwide, according to CB Insights. Thats triple the amount in the previous year.

Like the befuddling math underpinning quantum computing, some of the expectations building around this still-impractical technology can make you lightheaded. If you squint out the window of a flight into SFO right now, you can see a haze of quantum hype drifting over Silicon Valley. But the enormous potential of quantum computing is undeniable, and the hardware needed to harness it is advancing fast. If there were ever a perfect time to bend your brain around quantum computing, its now. Say Schrodingers superposition three times fast, and we can dive in.

The prehistory of quantum computing begins early in the 20th century, when physicists began to sense they had lost their grip on reality.

First, accepted explanations of the subatomic world turned out to be incomplete. Electrons and other particles didnt just neatly carom around like Newtonian billiard balls, for example. Sometimes they acted like waves instead. Quantum mechanics emerged to explain such quirks, but introduced troubling questions of its own. To take just one brow-wrinkling example, this new math implied that physical properties of the subatomic world, like the position of an electron, didnt really exist until they were observed.

Physicist Paul Benioff suggests quantum mechanics could be used for computation.

Nobel-winning physicist Richard Feynman, at Caltech, coins the term quantum computer.

Physicist David Deutsch, at Oxford, maps out how a quantum computer would operate, a blueprint that underpins the nascent industry of today.

Mathematician Peter Shor, at Bell Labs, writes an algorithm that could tap a quantum computers power to break widely used forms of encryption.

D-Wave, a Canadian startup, announces a quantum computing chip it says can solve Sudoku puzzles, triggering years of debate over whether the companys technology really works.

Google teams up with NASA to fund a lab to try out D-Waves hardware.

Google hires the professor behind some of the best quantum computer hardware yet to lead its new quantum hardware lab.

IBM puts some of its prototype quantum processors on the internet for anyone to experiment with, saying programmers need to get ready to write quantum code.

Startup Rigetti opens its own quantum computer fabrication facility to build prototype hardware and compete with Google and IBM.

If you find that baffling, youre in good company. A year before winning a Nobel for his contributions to quantum theory, Caltechs Richard Feynman remarked that nobody understands quantum mechanics. The way we experience the world just isnt compatible. But some people grasped it well enough to redefine our understanding of the universe. And in the 1980s a few of themincluding Feynmanbegan to wonder if quantum phenomena like subatomic particles’ dont look and I dont exist trick could be used to process information. The basic theory or blueprint for quantum computers that took shape in the 80s and 90s still guides Google and others working on the technology.

Before we belly flop into the murky shallows of quantum computing 0.101, we should refresh our understanding of regular old computers. As you know, smartwatches, iPhones, and the worlds fastest supercomputer all basically do the same thing: they perform calculations by encoding information as digital bits, aka 0s and 1s. A computer might flip the voltage in a circuit on and off to represent 1s and 0s for example.

Quantum computers do calculations using bits, too. After all, we want them to plug into our existing data and computers. But quantum bits, or qubits, have unique and powerful properties that allow a group of them to do much more than an equivalent number of conventional bits.

Qubits can be built in various ways, but they all represent digital 0s and 1s using the quantum properties of something that can be controlled electronically. Popular examplesat least among a very select slice of humanityinclude superconducting circuits, or individual atoms levitated inside electromagnetic fields. The magic power of quantum computing is that this arrangement lets qubits do more than just flip between 0 and 1. Treat them right and they can flip into a mysterious extra mode called a superposition.

The looped cables connect the chip at the bottom of the structure to its control system.

Amy Lombard

You may have heard that a qubit in superposition is both 0 and 1 at the same time. Thats not quite true and also not quite falsetheres just no equivalent in Homo sapiens humdrum classical reality. If you have a yearning to truly grok it, you must make a mathematical odyssey WIRED cannot equip you for. But in the simplified and dare we say perfect world of this explainer, the important thing to know is that the math of a superposition describes the probability of discovering either a 0 or 1 when a qubit is read outan operation that crashes it out of a quantum superposition into classical reality. A quantum computer can use a collection of qubits in superpositions to play with different possible paths through a calculation. If done correctly, the pointers to incorrect paths cancel out, leaving the correct answer when the qubits are read out as 0s and 1s.

A device that uses quantum mechanical effects to represent 0s and 1s of digital data, similar to the bits in a conventional computer.

It’s the trick that makes quantum computers tick, and makes qubits more powerful than ordinary bits. A superposition is in an intuition-defying mathematical combination of both 0 and 1. Quantum algorithms can use a group of qubits in a superposition to shortcut through calculations.

A quantum effect so unintuitive that Einstein dubbed it spooky action at a distance. When two qubits in a superposition are entangled, certain operations on one have instant effects on the other, a process that helps quantum algorithms be more powerful than conventional ones.

The holy grail of quantum computinga measure of how much faster a quantum computer could crack a problem than a conventional computer could. Quantum computers arent well-suited to all kinds of problems, but for some they offer an exponential speedup, meaning their advantage over a conventional computer grows explosively with the size of the input problem.

For some problems that are very time consuming for conventional computers, this allows a quantum computer to find a solution in far fewer steps than a conventional computer would need. Grovers algorithm, a famous quantum search algorithm, could find you in a phone book with 100 million names with just 10,000 operations. If a classical search algorithm just spooled through all the listings to find you, it would require 50 million operations, on average. For Grovers and some other quantum algorithms, the bigger the initial problemor phonebookthe further behind a conventional computer is left in the digital dust.

The reason we dont have useful quantum computers today is that qubits are extremely finicky. The quantum effects they must control are very delicate, and stray heat or noise can flip 0s and 1s, or wipe out a crucial superposition. Qubits have to be carefully shielded, and operated at very cold temperatures, sometimes only fractions of a degree above absolute zero. Most plans for quantum computing depend on using a sizable chunk of a quantum processors power to correct its own errors, caused by misfiring qubits.

Recent excitement about quantum computing stems from progress in making qubits less flaky. Thats giving researchers the confidence to start bundling the devices into larger groups. Startup Rigetti Computing recently announced it has built a processor with 128 qubits made with aluminum circuits that are super-cooled to make them superconducting. Google and IBM have announced their own chips with 72 and 50 qubits, respectively. Thats still far fewer than would be needed to do useful work with a quantum computerit would probably require at least thousandsbut as recently as 2016 those companies best chips had qubits only in the single digits. After tantalizing computer scientists for 30 years, practical quantum computing may not exactly be close, but it has begun to feel a lot closer.

Some large companies and governments have started treating quantum computing research like a raceperhaps fittingly its one where both the distance to the finish line and the prize for getting there are unknown.

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

Copper structures conduct heat well and connect the apparatus to its cooling system.

Amy Lombard

Back in the world of right now, though, quantum processors are too simple to do practical work. Google is working to stage a demonstration known as quantum supremacy, in which a quantum processor would solve a carefully designed math problem beyond existing supercomputers. But that would be an historic scientific milestone, not proof quantum computing is ready to do real work.

As quantum computer prototypes get larger, the first practical use for them will probably be for chemistry simulations. Computer models of molecules and atoms are vital to the hunt for new drugs or materials. Yet conventional computers cant accurately simulate the behavior of atoms and electrons during chemical reactions. Why? Because that behavior is driven by quantum mechanics, the full complexity of which is too great for conventional machines. Daimler and Volkswagen have both started investigating quantum computing as a way to improve battery chemistry for electric vehicles. Microsoft says other uses could include designing new catalysts to make industrial processes less energy intensive, or even to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to mitigate climate change.

Quantum computers would also be a natural fit for code-breaking. Weve known since the 90s that they could zip through the math underpinning the encryption that secures online banking, flirting, and shopping. Quantum processors would need to be much more advanced to do this, but governments and companies are taking the threat seriously. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is in the process of evaluating new encryption systems that could be rolled out to quantum-proof the internet.

When cooled to operating temperature, the whole assembly is hidden inside this white insulated casing.

Amy Lombard

Tech companies such as Google are also betting that quantum computers can make artificial intelligence more powerful. Thats further in the future and less well mapped out than chemistry or code-breaking applications, but researchers argue they can figure out the details down the line as they play around with larger and larger quantum processors. One hope is that quantum computers could help machine-learning algorithms pick up complex tasks using many fewer than the millions of examples typically used to train AI systems today.

Despite all the superposition-like uncertainty about when the quantum computing era will really begin, big tech companies argue that programmers need to get ready now. Google, IBM, and Microsoft have all released open source tools to help coders familiarize themselves with writing programs for quantum hardware. IBM has even begun to offer online access to some of its quantum processors, so anyone can experiment with them. Long term, the big computing companies see themselves making money by charging corporations to access data centers packed with supercooled quantum processors.

Whats in it for the rest of us? Despite some definite drawbacks, the age of conventional computers has helped make life safer, richer, and more convenientmany of us are never more than five seconds away from a kitten video. The era of quantum computers should have similarly broad reaching, beneficial, and impossible to predict consequences. Bring on the qubits.

The Quantum Computing Factory Thats Taking on Google and IBMPeek inside the ultra-clean workshop of Rigetti Computing, a startup packed with PhDs wearing what look like space suits and gleaming steampunk-style machines studded with bolts. In a facility across the San Francisco Bay from Silicon Valley, Rigetti is building its own quantum processors, using similar technology to that used by IBM and Google.

Why JP Morgan, Daimler Are Testing Quantum Computers That Arent Useful YetWall Street has plenty of quantsmath wizards who hunt profits using equations. Now JP Morgan has quantum quants, a small team collaborating with IBM to figure out how to use the power of quantum algorithms to more accurately model financial risk. Useful quantum computers are still years away, but the bank and other big corporations say that the potential payoffs are so large that they need to seriously investigate quantum computing today.

The Era of Quantum Computing is Here. Outlook: CloudyCompanies working on quantum computer hardware like to say that the field has transitioned from the exploration and uncertainty of science into the more predictable realm of engineering. Yet while hardware has improved markedly in recent years, and investment is surging, there are still open scientific questions about the physics underlying quantum computing.

Quantum Computing Will Create Jobs. But Which Ones?You cant create a new industry without people to staff the jobs it creates. A Congressional bill called the National Quantum Initiative seeks to have the US government invest in training the next generation of quantum computer technicians, designers, and entrepreneurs.

Job One For Quantum Computers: Boost Artificial IntelligenceArtificial intelligence and quantum computing are two of Silicon Valleys favorite buzzwords. If they can be successfully combined, machines will get a lot smarter.

Loopholes and the Anti-Realism Of the Quantum WorldEven people who can follow the math of quantum mechanics find its implications for reality perplexing. This book excerpt explains why quantum physics undermines our understanding of reality with nary an equation in sight.

Quantum Computing is the Next Security Big Security RiskIn 1994, mathematician Peter Shor wrote an algorithm that would allow a quantum computer to pierce the encryption that today underpins online shopping and other digital. As quantum computers get closer to reality, congressman Will Hurd (R-Texas) argues the US needs to lead a global effort to deploy new forms of quantum-resistant encryption.

This guide was last updated on August 24, 2018.

Enjoyed this deep dive? Check out more WIRED Guides.

See the original post here:

What Is Quantum Computing? The Complete WIRED Guide | WIRED

What Is Quantum Computing? The Complete WIRED Guide | WIRED

Big things happen when computers get smaller. Or faster. And quantum computing is about chasing perhaps the biggest performance boost in the history of technology. The basic idea is to smash some barriers that limit the speed of existing computers by harnessing the counterintuitive physics of subatomic scales.

If the tech industry pulls off that, ahem, quantum leap, you wont be getting a quantum computer for your pocket. Dont start saving for an iPhone Q. We could, however, see significant improvements in many areas of science and technology, such as longer-lasting batteries for electric cars or advances in chemistry that reshape industries or enable new medical treatments. Quantum computers wont be able to do everything faster than conventional computers, but on some tricky problems they have advantages that would enable astounding progress.

Its not productive (or polite) to ask people working on quantum computing when exactly those dreamy applications will become real. The only thing for sure is that they are still many years away. Prototype quantum computing hardware is still embryonic. But powerfuland, for tech companies, profit-increasingcomputers powered by quantum physics have recently started to feel less hypothetical.

The cooling and support structure for one of IBM’s quantum computing chips (the tiny black square at the bottom of the image).

Amy Lombard

Thats because Google, IBM, and others have decided its time to invest heavily in the technology, which, in turn, has helped quantum computing earn a bullet point on the corporate strategy PowerPoint slides of big companies in areas such as finance, like JPMorgan, and aerospace, like Airbus. In 2017, venture investors plowed $241 million into startups working on quantum computing hardware or software worldwide, according to CB Insights. Thats triple the amount in the previous year.

Like the befuddling math underpinning quantum computing, some of the expectations building around this still-impractical technology can make you lightheaded. If you squint out the window of a flight into SFO right now, you can see a haze of quantum hype drifting over Silicon Valley. But the enormous potential of quantum computing is undeniable, and the hardware needed to harness it is advancing fast. If there were ever a perfect time to bend your brain around quantum computing, its now. Say Schrodingers superposition three times fast, and we can dive in.

The prehistory of quantum computing begins early in the 20th century, when physicists began to sense they had lost their grip on reality.

First, accepted explanations of the subatomic world turned out to be incomplete. Electrons and other particles didnt just neatly carom around like Newtonian billiard balls, for example. Sometimes they acted like waves instead. Quantum mechanics emerged to explain such quirks, but introduced troubling questions of its own. To take just one brow-wrinkling example, this new math implied that physical properties of the subatomic world, like the position of an electron, didnt really exist until they were observed.

Physicist Paul Benioff suggests quantum mechanics could be used for computation.

Nobel-winning physicist Richard Feynman, at Caltech, coins the term quantum computer.

Physicist David Deutsch, at Oxford, maps out how a quantum computer would operate, a blueprint that underpins the nascent industry of today.

Mathematician Peter Shor, at Bell Labs, writes an algorithm that could tap a quantum computers power to break widely used forms of encryption.

D-Wave, a Canadian startup, announces a quantum computing chip it says can solve Sudoku puzzles, triggering years of debate over whether the companys technology really works.

Google teams up with NASA to fund a lab to try out D-Waves hardware.

Google hires the professor behind some of the best quantum computer hardware yet to lead its new quantum hardware lab.

IBM puts some of its prototype quantum processors on the internet for anyone to experiment with, saying programmers need to get ready to write quantum code.

Startup Rigetti opens its own quantum computer fabrication facility to build prototype hardware and compete with Google and IBM.

If you find that baffling, youre in good company. A year before winning a Nobel for his contributions to quantum theory, Caltechs Richard Feynman remarked that nobody understands quantum mechanics. The way we experience the world just isnt compatible. But some people grasped it well enough to redefine our understanding of the universe. And in the 1980s a few of themincluding Feynmanbegan to wonder if quantum phenomena like subatomic particles’ dont look and I dont exist trick could be used to process information. The basic theory or blueprint for quantum computers that took shape in the 80s and 90s still guides Google and others working on the technology.

Before we belly flop into the murky shallows of quantum computing 0.101, we should refresh our understanding of regular old computers. As you know, smartwatches, iPhones, and the worlds fastest supercomputer all basically do the same thing: they perform calculations by encoding information as digital bits, aka 0s and 1s. A computer might flip the voltage in a circuit on and off to represent 1s and 0s for example.

Quantum computers do calculations using bits, too. After all, we want them to plug into our existing data and computers. But quantum bits, or qubits, have unique and powerful properties that allow a group of them to do much more than an equivalent number of conventional bits.

Qubits can be built in various ways, but they all represent digital 0s and 1s using the quantum properties of something that can be controlled electronically. Popular examplesat least among a very select slice of humanityinclude superconducting circuits, or individual atoms levitated inside electromagnetic fields. The magic power of quantum computing is that this arrangement lets qubits do more than just flip between 0 and 1. Treat them right and they can flip into a mysterious extra mode called a superposition.

The looped cables connect the chip at the bottom of the structure to its control system.

Amy Lombard

You may have heard that a qubit in superposition is both 0 and 1 at the same time. Thats not quite true and also not quite falsetheres just no equivalent in Homo sapiens humdrum classical reality. If you have a yearning to truly grok it, you must make a mathematical odyssey WIRED cannot equip you for. But in the simplified and dare we say perfect world of this explainer, the important thing to know is that the math of a superposition describes the probability of discovering either a 0 or 1 when a qubit is read outan operation that crashes it out of a quantum superposition into classical reality. A quantum computer can use a collection of qubits in superpositions to play with different possible paths through a calculation. If done correctly, the pointers to incorrect paths cancel out, leaving the correct answer when the qubits are read out as 0s and 1s.

A device that uses quantum mechanical effects to represent 0s and 1s of digital data, similar to the bits in a conventional computer.

It’s the trick that makes quantum computers tick, and makes qubits more powerful than ordinary bits. A superposition is in an intuition-defying mathematical combination of both 0 and 1. Quantum algorithms can use a group of qubits in a superposition to shortcut through calculations.

A quantum effect so unintuitive that Einstein dubbed it spooky action at a distance. When two qubits in a superposition are entangled, certain operations on one have instant effects on the other, a process that helps quantum algorithms be more powerful than conventional ones.

The holy grail of quantum computinga measure of how much faster a quantum computer could crack a problem than a conventional computer could. Quantum computers arent well-suited to all kinds of problems, but for some they offer an exponential speedup, meaning their advantage over a conventional computer grows explosively with the size of the input problem.

For some problems that are very time consuming for conventional computers, this allows a quantum computer to find a solution in far fewer steps than a conventional computer would need. Grovers algorithm, a famous quantum search algorithm, could find you in a phone book with 100 million names with just 10,000 operations. If a classical search algorithm just spooled through all the listings to find you, it would require 50 million operations, on average. For Grovers and some other quantum algorithms, the bigger the initial problemor phonebookthe further behind a conventional computer is left in the digital dust.

The reason we dont have useful quantum computers today is that qubits are extremely finicky. The quantum effects they must control are very delicate, and stray heat or noise can flip 0s and 1s, or wipe out a crucial superposition. Qubits have to be carefully shielded, and operated at very cold temperatures, sometimes only fractions of a degree above absolute zero. Most plans for quantum computing depend on using a sizable chunk of a quantum processors power to correct its own errors, caused by misfiring qubits.

Recent excitement about quantum computing stems from progress in making qubits less flaky. Thats giving researchers the confidence to start bundling the devices into larger groups. Startup Rigetti Computing recently announced it has built a processor with 128 qubits made with aluminum circuits that are super-cooled to make them superconducting. Google and IBM have announced their own chips with 72 and 50 qubits, respectively. Thats still far fewer than would be needed to do useful work with a quantum computerit would probably require at least thousandsbut as recently as 2016 those companies best chips had qubits only in the single digits. After tantalizing computer scientists for 30 years, practical quantum computing may not exactly be close, but it has begun to feel a lot closer.

Some large companies and governments have started treating quantum computing research like a raceperhaps fittingly its one where both the distance to the finish line and the prize for getting there are unknown.

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

Copper structures conduct heat well and connect the apparatus to its cooling system.

Amy Lombard

Back in the world of right now, though, quantum processors are too simple to do practical work. Google is working to stage a demonstration known as quantum supremacy, in which a quantum processor would solve a carefully designed math problem beyond existing supercomputers. But that would be an historic scientific milestone, not proof quantum computing is ready to do real work.

As quantum computer prototypes get larger, the first practical use for them will probably be for chemistry simulations. Computer models of molecules and atoms are vital to the hunt for new drugs or materials. Yet conventional computers cant accurately simulate the behavior of atoms and electrons during chemical reactions. Why? Because that behavior is driven by quantum mechanics, the full complexity of which is too great for conventional machines. Daimler and Volkswagen have both started investigating quantum computing as a way to improve battery chemistry for electric vehicles. Microsoft says other uses could include designing new catalysts to make industrial processes less energy intensive, or even to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to mitigate climate change.

Quantum computers would also be a natural fit for code-breaking. Weve known since the 90s that they could zip through the math underpinning the encryption that secures online banking, flirting, and shopping. Quantum processors would need to be much more advanced to do this, but governments and companies are taking the threat seriously. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is in the process of evaluating new encryption systems that could be rolled out to quantum-proof the internet.

When cooled to operating temperature, the whole assembly is hidden inside this white insulated casing.

Amy Lombard

Tech companies such as Google are also betting that quantum computers can make artificial intelligence more powerful. Thats further in the future and less well mapped out than chemistry or code-breaking applications, but researchers argue they can figure out the details down the line as they play around with larger and larger quantum processors. One hope is that quantum computers could help machine-learning algorithms pick up complex tasks using many fewer than the millions of examples typically used to train AI systems today.

Despite all the superposition-like uncertainty about when the quantum computing era will really begin, big tech companies argue that programmers need to get ready now. Google, IBM, and Microsoft have all released open source tools to help coders familiarize themselves with writing programs for quantum hardware. IBM has even begun to offer online access to some of its quantum processors, so anyone can experiment with them. Long term, the big computing companies see themselves making money by charging corporations to access data centers packed with supercooled quantum processors.

Whats in it for the rest of us? Despite some definite drawbacks, the age of conventional computers has helped make life safer, richer, and more convenientmany of us are never more than five seconds away from a kitten video. The era of quantum computers should have similarly broad reaching, beneficial, and impossible to predict consequences. Bring on the qubits.

The Quantum Computing Factory Thats Taking on Google and IBMPeek inside the ultra-clean workshop of Rigetti Computing, a startup packed with PhDs wearing what look like space suits and gleaming steampunk-style machines studded with bolts. In a facility across the San Francisco Bay from Silicon Valley, Rigetti is building its own quantum processors, using similar technology to that used by IBM and Google.

Why JP Morgan, Daimler Are Testing Quantum Computers That Arent Useful YetWall Street has plenty of quantsmath wizards who hunt profits using equations. Now JP Morgan has quantum quants, a small team collaborating with IBM to figure out how to use the power of quantum algorithms to more accurately model financial risk. Useful quantum computers are still years away, but the bank and other big corporations say that the potential payoffs are so large that they need to seriously investigate quantum computing today.

The Era of Quantum Computing is Here. Outlook: CloudyCompanies working on quantum computer hardware like to say that the field has transitioned from the exploration and uncertainty of science into the more predictable realm of engineering. Yet while hardware has improved markedly in recent years, and investment is surging, there are still open scientific questions about the physics underlying quantum computing.

Quantum Computing Will Create Jobs. But Which Ones?You cant create a new industry without people to staff the jobs it creates. A Congressional bill called the National Quantum Initiative seeks to have the US government invest in training the next generation of quantum computer technicians, designers, and entrepreneurs.

Job One For Quantum Computers: Boost Artificial IntelligenceArtificial intelligence and quantum computing are two of Silicon Valleys favorite buzzwords. If they can be successfully combined, machines will get a lot smarter.

Loopholes and the Anti-Realism Of the Quantum WorldEven people who can follow the math of quantum mechanics find its implications for reality perplexing. This book excerpt explains why quantum physics undermines our understanding of reality with nary an equation in sight.

Quantum Computing is the Next Security Big Security RiskIn 1994, mathematician Peter Shor wrote an algorithm that would allow a quantum computer to pierce the encryption that today underpins online shopping and other digital. As quantum computers get closer to reality, congressman Will Hurd (R-Texas) argues the US needs to lead a global effort to deploy new forms of quantum-resistant encryption.

This guide was last updated on August 24, 2018.

Enjoyed this deep dive? Check out more WIRED Guides.

Read the original post:

What Is Quantum Computing? The Complete WIRED Guide | WIRED

Microsoft will open-source parts of Q#, the programming …

Microsoft is focusing on the development of quantum computers that take advantage of cryogenically cooled nanowires. (Microsoft Photo)

Much has been made of Microsofts reinvention as an open-source company, and it will continue to live up to that billing Monday at Microsoft Build as the world prepares for quantum computing.

Microsoft plans to open-source the Q# compiler and quantum simulators that it includes as part of its quantum development kit sometime in the near future, the company plans to announce Monday at Build. The idea is to help researchers and universities studying quantum computing have deeper access to these tools in order to help contribute to their development and understanding of quantum technology, the company said in materials provided ahead of Build.

Quantum computing is still pretty far off in the future, but one day it is expected to allow computer scientists to bypass the limits of so-called classical computing to reach new levels of performance. Todays computers represent information using an amazingly complex string of 0s and 1s to represent data, but quantum computers will be able to use more than two states to represent data.

There are lots of different routes to quantum computing, and Microsoft is pursuing a distinct vision thats unique compared to some of the others chasing this grail. Q# is a big part of this approach, because while building a viable quantum computer is hard enough, programming one is going to require a new way of looking at the world.

Open-sourcing the compiler which takes code written by developers in a programming language and makes it run on a computer could help budding quantum developers better understand how to write more efficient code and reduce errors preventing their applications from running. And open-source simulators could make it easier for developers to test their quantum applications before letting them fly on quantum machines, which are likely to be pretty expensive in their early days.

Microsoft is expected to provide more information about its open-source quantum projects this week at Build, where more than 6,000 people are expected to attend to hear details about a lot of Microsofts current projects.

Link:

Microsoft will open-source parts of Q#, the programming …

Quantum Computing | D-Wave Systems

Quantum Computation

Rather than store information using bits represented by 0s or 1s as conventional digital computers do, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, to encode information as 0s, 1s, or both at the same time. This superposition of statesalong with the other quantum mechanical phenomena of entanglement and tunnelingenables quantum computers to manipulate enormous combinations of states at once.

In nature, physical systems tend to evolve toward their lowest energy state: objects slide down hills, hot things cool down, and so on. This behavior also applies to quantum systems. To imagine this, think of a traveler looking for the best solution by finding the lowest valley in the energy landscape that represents the problem.

Classical algorithms seek the lowest valley by placing the traveler at some point in the landscape and allowing that traveler to move based on local variations. While it is generally most efficient to move downhill and avoid climbing hills that are too high, such classical algorithms are prone to leading the traveler into nearby valleys that may not be the global minimum. Numerous trials are typically required, with many travelers beginning their journeys from different points.

In contrast, quantum annealing begins with the traveler simultaneously occupying many coordinates thanks to the quantum phenomenon of superposition. The probability of being at any given coordinate smoothly evolves as annealing progresses, with the probability increasing around the coordinates of deep valleys. Quantum tunneling allows the traveller to pass through hillsrather than be forced to climb themreducing the chance of becoming trapped in valleys that are not the global minimum. Quantum entanglement further improves the outcome by allowing the traveler to discover correlations between the coordinates that lead to deep valleys.

The D-Wave system has a web API with client libraries available for C/C++, Python, and MATLAB. This allows users to access the computer easily as a cloud resource over a network.

To program the system, a user maps a problem into a search for the lowest point in a vast landscape, corresponding to the best possible outcome. The quantum processing unitconsiders all the possibilities simultaneously to determine the lowest energy required to form those relationships. The solutions are values that correspond to the optimal configurations of qubits found, or the lowest points in the energy landscape. These values are returned to the user program over the network.

Because a quantum computer is probabilistic rather than deterministic, the computer returns many very good answers in a short amount of timethousands of samples in one second. This provides not only the best solution found but also other very good alternatives from which to choose.

D-Wave systems are intended to be used to complement classical computers. There are many examples of problems where a quantum computer can complement an HPC (high-performance computing) system. While the quantum computer is well suited to discrete optimization, for example,the HPC system is better at large-scale numerical simulations.

Download this whitepaper to learn more about programming a D-Wave quantum computer.

D-Waves flagship product, the 2000qubit D-Wave 2000Q quantum computer, is the most advanced quantum computer in the world. It is based on a novel type of superconducting processor that uses quantum mechanics to massively accelerate computation. It is best suited to tackling complex optimization problems that exist across many domains such as:

Download the Technology Overview

Go here to read the rest:

Quantum Computing | D-Wave Systems

Scientists Say New Quantum Material Could “‘Download’ Your Brain”

A new type of quantum material can directly measure neural activity and translate it into electrical signals for a computer.

Computer Brain

Scientists say they’ve developed a new “quantum material” that could one day transfer information directly from human brains to a computer.

The research is in early stages, but it invokes ideas like uploading brains to the cloud or hooking people up to a computer to track deep health metrics — concepts that until now existed solely in science fiction.

Quantum Interface

The new quantum material, described in research published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, is a “nickelate lattice” that the scientists say could directly translate the brain’s electrochemical signals into electrical activity that could be interpreted by a computer.

“We can confidently say that this material is a potential pathway to building a computing device that would store and transfer memories,” Purdue University engineer Shriram Ramanathan told ScienceBlog.

Running Diagnostics

Right now, the new material can only detect the activity of some neurotransmitters — so we can’t yet upload a whole brain or anything like that. But if the tech progresses, the researchers hypothesize that it could be used to detect neurological diseases, or perhaps even store memories.

“Imagine putting an electronic device in the brain, so that when natural brain functions start deteriorating, a person could still retrieve memories from that device,” Ramanathan said.

READ MORE: New Quantum Material Could Warn Of Neurological Disease [ScienceBlog]

More on brain-computer interface: This Neural Implant Accesses Your Brain Through the Jugular Vein

The post Scientists Say New Quantum Material Could “‘Download’ Your Brain” appeared first on Futurism.

See more here:

Scientists Say New Quantum Material Could “‘Download’ Your Brain”

Scientists Say New Quantum Material Could “‘Download’ Your Brain”

A new type of quantum material can directly measure neural activity and translate it into electrical signals for a computer.

Computer Brain

Scientists say they’ve developed a new “quantum material” that could one day transfer information directly from human brains to a computer.

The research is in early stages, but it invokes ideas like uploading brains to the cloud or hooking people up to a computer to track deep health metrics — concepts that until now existed solely in science fiction.

Quantum Interface

The new quantum material, described in research published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, is a “nickelate lattice” that the scientists say could directly translate the brain’s electrochemical signals into electrical activity that could be interpreted by a computer.

“We can confidently say that this material is a potential pathway to building a computing device that would store and transfer memories,” Purdue University engineer Shriram Ramanathan told ScienceBlog.

Running Diagnostics

Right now, the new material can only detect the activity of some neurotransmitters — so we can’t yet upload a whole brain or anything like that. But if the tech progresses, the researchers hypothesize that it could be used to detect neurological diseases, or perhaps even store memories.

“Imagine putting an electronic device in the brain, so that when natural brain functions start deteriorating, a person could still retrieve memories from that device,” Ramanathan said.

READ MORE: New Quantum Material Could Warn Of Neurological Disease [ScienceBlog]

More on brain-computer interface: This Neural Implant Accesses Your Brain Through the Jugular Vein

The post Scientists Say New Quantum Material Could “‘Download’ Your Brain” appeared first on Futurism.

Read more:

Scientists Say New Quantum Material Could “‘Download’ Your Brain”

Quantum Computing | D-Wave Systems

Quantum Computation

Rather than store information using bits represented by 0s or 1s as conventional digital computers do, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, to encode information as 0s, 1s, or both at the same time. This superposition of statesalong with the other quantum mechanical phenomena of entanglement and tunnelingenables quantum computers to manipulate enormous combinations of states at once.

In nature, physical systems tend to evolve toward their lowest energy state: objects slide down hills, hot things cool down, and so on. This behavior also applies to quantum systems. To imagine this, think of a traveler looking for the best solution by finding the lowest valley in the energy landscape that represents the problem.

Classical algorithms seek the lowest valley by placing the traveler at some point in the landscape and allowing that traveler to move based on local variations. While it is generally most efficient to move downhill and avoid climbing hills that are too high, such classical algorithms are prone to leading the traveler into nearby valleys that may not be the global minimum. Numerous trials are typically required, with many travelers beginning their journeys from different points.

In contrast, quantum annealing begins with the traveler simultaneously occupying many coordinates thanks to the quantum phenomenon of superposition. The probability of being at any given coordinate smoothly evolves as annealing progresses, with the probability increasing around the coordinates of deep valleys. Quantum tunneling allows the traveller to pass through hillsrather than be forced to climb themreducing the chance of becoming trapped in valleys that are not the global minimum. Quantum entanglement further improves the outcome by allowing the traveler to discover correlations between the coordinates that lead to deep valleys.

The D-Wave system has a web API with client libraries available for C/C++, Python, and MATLAB. This allows users to access the computer easily as a cloud resource over a network.

To program the system, a user maps a problem into a search for the lowest point in a vast landscape, corresponding to the best possible outcome. The quantum processing unitconsiders all the possibilities simultaneously to determine the lowest energy required to form those relationships. The solutions are values that correspond to the optimal configurations of qubits found, or the lowest points in the energy landscape. These values are returned to the user program over the network.

Because a quantum computer is probabilistic rather than deterministic, the computer returns many very good answers in a short amount of timethousands of samples in one second. This provides not only the best solution found but also other very good alternatives from which to choose.

D-Wave systems are intended to be used to complement classical computers. There are many examples of problems where a quantum computer can complement an HPC (high-performance computing) system. While the quantum computer is well suited to discrete optimization, for example,the HPC system is better at large-scale numerical simulations.

Download this whitepaper to learn more about programming a D-Wave quantum computer.

D-Waves flagship product, the 2000qubit D-Wave 2000Q quantum computer, is the most advanced quantum computer in the world. It is based on a novel type of superconducting processor that uses quantum mechanics to massively accelerate computation. It is best suited to tackling complex optimization problems that exist across many domains such as:

Download the Technology Overview

View post:

Quantum Computing | D-Wave Systems

Russian Scientists Used a Quantum Computer to Turn Back Time

Russian physicists, armed with a quantum computer, managed to send a single electron back in time, resetting the computer to its state from a moment earlier

Fall Back

Russian scientists have apparently reversed the flow of time in an experiment they conducted on a quantum computer.

The finding is unlikely to lead to a time machine that would work on people. But the team of physicists managed to restore IBM’s public quantum computer to the state it had been in just a moment earlier, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Nature Scientific Reports — a nuanced result, but one that could have striking implications for the future of computing, quantum physics, and our understanding of time itself.

“We have artificially created a state that evolves in a direction opposite to that of the thermodynamic arrow of time,” Gordey Lesovik, a quantum physicist from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology who led the research project, said in a university-published press release.

 Great Scott

Lesovik’s team worked with scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois to run thousands of experiments on a quantum system programmed to reverse time’s arrow on a single electron.

After thousands of trials, the physicists managed to restore the quantum computer’s earlier state about 85 percent of the time, but only if they were working with a simplified, two-qubit system. A more complex quantum computer with three qubits was too chaotic, and the time reversal experiment only worked 49 percent of the time.

Just like research into quantum teleportation has nothing to do with transporting people, there’s no reason to link this study to the notion of a machine that could travel through time. Rather, the scientists hope that their work can help quantum computer scientists make sure their software is actually doing what it’s supposed to by kicking it back through time and double checking its work.

READ MORE: Physicists reverse time using quantum computer [Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology newsroom via EurekAlert]

More on quantum computers: Scientists Are Building a Quantum Computer That “Acts Like a Brain”

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Russian Scientists Used a Quantum Computer to Turn Back Time

Why IBM Thinks Quantum Computers Will Boost Machine Learning

IBM figured out how to use a quantum computer to make machine learning algorithms better than ever before. But no quantum computer is good enough yet.

Quantum Leap

When full-scale quantum computers finally arrive, they could give machine learning algorithms a major boost, letting the AI systems find hidden patterns in data that today’s best technology has no hope of spotting.

At least, that’s the gist of research by IBM scientists, first shared online last year that was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday — findings that could help make much more powerful AI without requiring fundamentally-new algorithms.

Connect The Dots

This quantum AI would excel at what’s called feature mapping — breaking down the data into its core components to figure out everything about it. For example, a machine learning algorithm trained to analyze images could analyze the color of every single pixel in the image, looking for patterns that might reveal what the picture depicts.

Modern machine learning systems running on a classical computer are already pretty good at that. But according to the new research, a quantum computer could give the AI such a boost that it would be able to look for subtler patterns within huge datasets, according to an IBM-published blog.

That may mean finding new trends within troves of data from medical research or new insights into climate change. But Antonio Córcoles, an IBM quantum computing scientist, told Futurism that he has a hard time predicting how these systems may be used, since scientists aren’t aware of the patterns and discoveries that they don’t know to look for.

Stepping On Toes

But this quantum-boosted AI isn’t about to solve any scientific mysteries just yet. The IBM scientists concede that even their best quantum computer isn’t nearly sophisticated enough to outperform a classical computer at machine learning tasks.

Rather, the team figured out how such a could enhance machine learning, should the researchers working on the hardware side of the problem figure out how to catch up.

Córcoles told Futurism that he thinks quantum computer research will get there in about five years, but it will take a community effort as scientists in more fields find ways that the devices will be able to help them crack problems previously thought unsolvable.

READ MORE: Researchers Put Machine Learning on the Path to Quantum Advantage [IBM Newsroom]

More on quantum computers: Scientists Are Building a Quantum Computer That “Acts Like a Brain”

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Why IBM Thinks Quantum Computers Will Boost Machine Learning

Quantum technology – Wikipedia

Quantum technology is a new field of physics and engineering, which is about creating practical applications — such as quantum computing, quantum sensors, quantum cryptography, quantum simulation, quantum metrology and quantum imaging — based on properties of quantum mechanics, especially quantum entanglement, quantum superposition and quantum tunnelling.

Quantum superposition states can be very sensitive to a number of external effects, such as electric, magnetic and gravitational fields; rotation, acceleration and time, and therefore can be used to make very accurate sensors. There are many experimental demonstrations of quantum sensing devices, such as the experiments carried out by the Nobel laureate William D. Phillips on using cold atom interferometer systems to measure gravity and the atomic clock which is used by many national standards agencies around the world to define the second.

Recent efforts are being made to engineer quantum sensing devices, so that they are cheaper, easier to use, more portable, lighter and consume less power. It is believed that if these efforts are successful, it will lead to multiple commercial markets, such as for the monitoring of oil and gas deposits, or in construction.

Quantum secure communication are methods which are expected to be ‘quantum safe’ in the advent of a quantum computing systems that could break current cryptography systems. One significant component of a quantum secure communication systems is expected to be Quantum key distribution, or ‘QKD’: a method of transmitting information using entangled light in a way that makes any interception of the transmission obvious to the user.

Quantum computers are the ultimate quantum network, combining ‘quantum bits’ or ‘qubit’ which are devices that can store and process quantum data (as opposed to binary data) with links that can transfer quantum information between qubits. In doing this, quantum computers are predicted to calculate certain algorithms significantly faster than even the largest classical computer available today.

Quantum computers are expected to have a number of significant uses in computing fields such as optimization and machine learning. They are famous for their expected ability to carry out ‘Shor’s Algorithm’, which can be used to factorise large numbers which are mathematically important to secure data transmission.

There are many devices available today which are fundamentally reliant on the effects of quantum mechanics. These include: laser systems, transistors and semi-conductor devices and other devices, such as MRI imagers. These devices are often referred to belonging to the ‘first quantum revolution’; the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) grouped these devices as ‘quantum 1.0’,[1] that is devices which rely on the effects of quantum mechanics. Quantum technologies are often described as the ‘second quantum revolution’ or ‘quantum 2.0’. These are generally regarded as a class of device that actively create, manipulate and read out quantum states of matter, often using the quantum effects of superposition and entanglement.

The field of quantum technology was first outlined in a 1997 book by Gerard J. Milburn,[2] which was then followed by a 2003 article by Jonathan P. Dowling and Gerard J. Milburn,[3][4] as well as a 2003 article by David Deutsch.[5] The field of quantum technology has benefited immensely from the influx of new ideas from the field of quantum information processing, particularly quantum computing. Disparate areas of quantum physics, such as quantum optics, atom optics, quantum electronics, and quantum nanomechanical devices, have been unified under the search for a quantum computer and given a common language, that of quantum information theory.

The Quantum Manifesto was signed by 3,400 scientists and officially released at the 2016 Quantum Europe Conference, calling for a quantum technology initiative to coordinate between academia and industry, to move quantum technologies from the laboratory to industry, and to educate quantum technology professionals in a combination of science, engineering, and business.[6][7][8][9][10]

The European Commission responded to that manifesto with the Quantum Technology Flagship [11][12], a 1 Billion, 10-year-long megaproject, similar in size to earlier European Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship projects such as the Graphene Flagship and Human Brain Project.[8][13] China is building the world’s largest quantum research facility with a planned investment of 76 Billion Yuan (approx. 10 Billion).[14] The USA are preparing a national initiative.[15][16]

From 2010 onwards, multiple governments have established programmes to explore quantum technologies [17], such as the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, which created four quantum ‘hubs’, the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore, and QuTech a Dutch centre to develop a topological quantum computer.[18] On 22 December 2018, Donald Trump signed into law the US National Quantum Initiative Act, with a billion dollar a year budget, which is widely viewed as a response to gains in QuTech by the Chinese particularly the recent launch of the Chinese Quantum Satellite.

In the private sector, there have been multiple investments into quantum technologies made by large companies. Examples include Google’s partnership with the John Martinis group at UCSB,[19] multiple partnerships with the Canadian quantum computing company D-wave systems, and investment by many UK companies within the UK quantum technologies programme.

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Quantum technology – Wikipedia

MIT Quantum Computing Online Courses for Professionals

Pioneering Quantum with IBM Q

MITs quantum learning initiative is created in collaboration with IBM Q, and the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab is focused on fundamental artificial intelligence (AI) research with the goal of propelling scientific breakthroughs that unlock the potential of AI. A key initiative of the lab is the intersection of quantum computing and machine learning.

IBM Q, which offers commercial universal quantum computing systems for businesses and sciences, has provided underwriting to produce this course. Applications of Quantum Computing courses utilize IBM Q systems and technology, including IBM Q and open source quantum software developer kit Qiskit. MIT is solely responsible for all course content decisions.

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MIT Quantum Computing Online Courses for Professionals

IBM hits quantum computing milestone, may see ‘Quantum …

IBM is outlining another milestone in quantum computing — its highest Quantum Volume to date — and projects that practical uses or so called Quantum Advantage may be a decade away.

Big Blue, which will outline the scientific milestone at the American Physical Society March Meeting, made a bit of a splash at CES 2019 with a display of its Q System quantum computer and has been steadily showing progress on quantum computing.

In other words, that quantum computing buying guide for technology executives may take a while. Quantum Volume is a performance metric that indicates progress in the pursuit of Quantum Advantage. Quantum Advantage refers to the point where quantum applications deliver significant advantages to classical computers.

Also:Meet IBM’s bleeding edge of quantum computingCNET

Quantum Volume is determined by the number of qubits, connectivity, and coherence time, plus accounting for gate and measurement errors, device cross talk, and circuit software compiler efficiency.

IBM said its Q System One, which has a 20-qubit processor, produced a Quantum Volume of 16, double the current IBM Q, which has a Quantum Volume of 8. IBM also said the Q System One has some of the lowest error rates IBM has measured.

That progress is notable, but practical broad use cases are still years away. IBM said Quantum Volume would need to double every year to reach Quantum Advantage within the next decade. Faster progress on Quantum Advantage would speed up that timeline. IBM has doubled the power of its quantum computers annually since 2017.

Once Quantum Advantage is hit, there would be new applications, more of an ecosystem and real business use cases. Consumption of quantum computing would still likely be delivered via cloud computing since the technology has some unique characteristics that make a traditional data center look easy. IBM made its quantum computing technology available in 2016 via a cloud service and is working with partners to find business and science use cases.

Here’show quantum computing and classic computing differsvia our recent primer on the subject.

Every classical electronic computer exploits the natural behavior of electrons to produce results in accordance with Boolean logic (for any two specific input states, one certain output state). Here, the basic unit of transaction is the binary digit (“bit”), whose state is either 0 or 1. In a conventional semiconductor, these two states are represented by low and high voltage levels within transistors.

In a quantum computer, the structure is radically different. Its basic unit of registering state is the qubit, which at one level also stores a 0 or 1 state (actually 0 and/or 1). Instead of transistors, a quantum computing obtains its qubits by bombarding atoms with electrical fields at perpendicular angles to one another, the result being to line up the ions but also keep them conveniently and equivalently separated. When these ions are separated by just enough space, their orbiting electrons become the home addresses, if you will, for qubits.

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IBM hits quantum computing milestone, may see ‘Quantum …

Microsofts quantum computing network takes a giant leap …

Microsoft is focusing on the development of quantum computers that take advantage of cryogenically cooled nanowires. (Microsoft Photo)

REDMOND, Wash. Quantum computing may still be in its infancy but the Microsoft Quantum Network is all grown up, fostered by in-house developers, research affiliates and future stars of the startup world.

The network made its official debut today here at Microsofts Redmond campus, during a Startup Summit that laid out the companys vision for quantum computing and introduced network partners to Microsofts tools of the quantum trade.

Quantum computing stands in contrast to the classical computer technologies that have held sway for more than a half-century. Classical computing is based on the ones and zeroes of bit-based processing, while quantum computing takes advantage of the weird effects of quantum physics. Quantum bits, or qubits, neednt represent a one or a zero, but can represent multiple states during computation.

The quantum approach should be able to solve computational problems that cant easily be solved using classical computers, such as modeling molecular interactions or optimizing large-scale systems. That could open the way to world-changing applications, said Todd Holmdahl, corporate vice president of Microsofts Azure Hardware Systems Group.

Were looking at problems like climate change, Holmdahl said. Were looking at solving big food production problems. We think we have opportunities to solve problems around materials science, personal health care, machine learning. All of these things are possible and obtainable with a quantum computer. We have been talking around here that were at the advent of the quantum economy.

Representatives from 16 startups were invited to this weeks Startup Summit, which features talks from Holmdahl and other leaders of Microsofts quantum team as well as demos and workshops focusing on Microsofts programming tools. (The closest startup to Seattle is 1QBit, based in Vancouver, B.C.)

Over the past year and a half, Microsoft has released a new quantum-friendly programming language called Q# (Q-sharp) as part of its Quantum Development Kit, and has worked with researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and academic institutions around the world to lay the technical groundwork for the field.

A big part of that groundwork is the development ofa universal quantum computer, based on a topological architecture that builds error-correcting mechanisms right into the cryogenically cooled, nanowire-based hardware. Cutting down on the error-producing noise in quantum systems will be key to producing a workable computer.

We believe that our qubit equals about 1,000 of our competitions qubits, Holmdahl said.

Theres lots of competition in the quantum computing field nowadays: IBM, Google and Intel are all working on similar technologies for a universal quantum computer, while Canadas D-Wave Systems is taking advantage of a more limited type of computing technology known as quantum annealing.

This week, D-Wave previewed its plans for a new type of computer topology that it said would reduce quantum noise and more than double the qubit count of its existing platform, from 2,000 linked qubits to 5,000.

But the power of quantum computing shouldnt be measured merely by counting qubits. The efficiency of computation and the ability to reduce errors can make a big difference, said Microsoft principal researcher Matthias Troyer.

For example, a standard approach to simulating the molecular mechanism behind nitrogen fixation for crops could require 30,000 years of processing time, he said. But if the task is structured to enable parallel processing and enhanced error correction, the required runtime can be shrunk to less than two days.

Quantum software engineering is really as important as the hardware engineering, Troyer said.

Julie Love, director of Microsoft Quantum Business Development, said that Microsoft will start out offering quantum computing through Miicrosofts Azure cloud-based services. Not all computational problems are amenable to the quantum approach: Its much more likely that an application will switch between classical and quantum processing and therefore, between classical tools such as the C# programming language and quantum tools such as Q#.

When you work in chemistry and materials, all of these problems, you hit this known to be unsolvable problem, Love said. Quantum provides the possibility of a breakthrough.

Love shies away from giving a firm timetable for the emergence of specific applications but last year, Holmdahl predicted that commercial quantum computers would exist five years from now. (Check back in 2023 to see how the prediction panned out.)

The first applications could well focus on simulating molecular chemistry, with the aim of prototyping better pharmaceuticals, more efficient fertilizers, better batteries, more environmentally friendly chemicals for the oil and gas industry, and a new class of high-temperature superconductors. It might even be possible to address the climate change challenge by custom-designing materials that pull excess carbon dioxide out of the air.

Love said quantum computers would also be well-suited for addressing optimization problems, like figuring out how to make traffic flow better through Seattles urban core; and for reducing the training time required for AI modeling.

That list is going to continue to evolve, she said.

Whenever the subject quantum computing comes up, cryptography has to be mentioned as well. Its theoretically possible for a quantum computer to break the codes that currently protect all sorts of secure transactions, ranging from email encryption to banking protocols.

Love said those code-breaking applications are farther out than other likely applications, due to the huge amount of computation resources that would be required even for a quantum computer. Nevertheless, its not too early to be concerned. We have a pretty significant research thrust in whats called post-quantum crypto, she said.

Next-generation data security is one of the hot topics addressed $1.2 billion National Quantum Initiative that was approved by Congress and the White House last December. Love said Microsofts post-quantum crypto protocols have already gone through an initial round of vetting by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Weve been working at this in a really open way, she said.

Like every technology, quantum computing is sure to have a dark side as well as a bright side. But its reassuring to know that developers are thinking ahead about both sides.

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Microsofts quantum computing network takes a giant leap …

Quantum Computing | D-Wave Systems

Quantum Computation

Rather than store information using bits represented by 0s or 1s as conventional digital computers do, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, to encode information as 0s, 1s, or both at the same time. This superposition of statesalong with the other quantum mechanical phenomena of entanglement and tunnelingenables quantum computers to manipulate enormous combinations of states at once.

In nature, physical systems tend to evolve toward their lowest energy state: objects slide down hills, hot things cool down, and so on. This behavior also applies to quantum systems. To imagine this, think of a traveler looking for the best solution by finding the lowest valley in the energy landscape that represents the problem.

Classical algorithms seek the lowest valley by placing the traveler at some point in the landscape and allowing that traveler to move based on local variations. While it is generally most efficient to move downhill and avoid climbing hills that are too high, such classical algorithms are prone to leading the traveler into nearby valleys that may not be the global minimum. Numerous trials are typically required, with many travelers beginning their journeys from different points.

In contrast, quantum annealing begins with the traveler simultaneously occupying many coordinates thanks to the quantum phenomenon of superposition. The probability of being at any given coordinate smoothly evolves as annealing progresses, with the probability increasing around the coordinates of deep valleys. Quantum tunneling allows the traveller to pass through hillsrather than be forced to climb themreducing the chance of becoming trapped in valleys that are not the global minimum. Quantum entanglement further improves the outcome by allowing the traveler to discover correlations between the coordinates that lead to deep valleys.

The D-Wave system has a web API with client libraries available for C/C++, Python, and MATLAB. This allows users to access the computer easily as a cloud resource over a network.

To program the system, a user maps a problem into a search for the lowest point in a vast landscape, corresponding to the best possible outcome. The quantum processing unitconsiders all the possibilities simultaneously to determine the lowest energy required to form those relationships. The solutions are values that correspond to the optimal configurations of qubits found, or the lowest points in the energy landscape. These values are returned to the user program over the network.

Because a quantum computer is probabilistic rather than deterministic, the computer returns many very good answers in a short amount of timethousands of samples in one second. This provides not only the best solution found but also other very good alternatives from which to choose.

D-Wave systems are intended to be used to complement classical computers. There are many examples of problems where a quantum computer can complement an HPC (high-performance computing) system. While the quantum computer is well suited to discrete optimization, for example,the HPC system is better at large-scale numerical simulations.

Download this whitepaper to learn more about programming a D-Wave quantum computer.

D-Waves flagship product, the 2000qubit D-Wave 2000Q quantum computer, is the most advanced quantum computer in the world. It is based on a novel type of superconducting processor that uses quantum mechanics to massively accelerate computation. It is best suited to tackling complex optimization problems that exist across many domains such as:

Download the Technology Overview

Originally posted here:

Quantum Computing | D-Wave Systems

What Is Quantum Computing? The Complete WIRED Guide | WIRED

Big things happen when computers get smaller. Or faster. And quantum computing is about chasing perhaps the biggest performance boost in the history of technology. The basic idea is to smash some barriers that limit the speed of existing computers by harnessing the counterintuitive physics of subatomic scales.

If the tech industry pulls off that, ahem, quantum leap, you wont be getting a quantum computer for your pocket. Dont start saving for an iPhone Q. We could, however, see significant improvements in many areas of science and technology, such as longer-lasting batteries for electric cars or advances in chemistry that reshape industries or enable new medical treatments. Quantum computers wont be able to do everything faster than conventional computers, but on some tricky problems they have advantages that would enable astounding progress.

Its not productive (or polite) to ask people working on quantum computing when exactly those dreamy applications will become real. The only thing for sure is that they are still many years away. Prototype quantum computing hardware is still embryonic. But powerfuland, for tech companies, profit-increasingcomputers powered by quantum physics have recently started to feel less hypothetical.

The cooling and support structure for one of IBM’s quantum computing chips (the tiny black square at the bottom of the image).

Amy Lombard

Thats because Google, IBM, and others have decided its time to invest heavily in the technology, which, in turn, has helped quantum computing earn a bullet point on the corporate strategy PowerPoint slides of big companies in areas such as finance, like JPMorgan, and aerospace, like Airbus. In 2017, venture investors plowed $241 million into startups working on quantum computing hardware or software worldwide, according to CB Insights. Thats triple the amount in the previous year.

Like the befuddling math underpinning quantum computing, some of the expectations building around this still-impractical technology can make you lightheaded. If you squint out the window of a flight into SFO right now, you can see a haze of quantum hype drifting over Silicon Valley. But the enormous potential of quantum computing is undeniable, and the hardware needed to harness it is advancing fast. If there were ever a perfect time to bend your brain around quantum computing, its now. Say Schrodingers superposition three times fast, and we can dive in.

The prehistory of quantum computing begins early in the 20th century, when physicists began to sense they had lost their grip on reality.

First, accepted explanations of the subatomic world turned out to be incomplete. Electrons and other particles didnt just neatly carom around like Newtonian billiard balls, for example. Sometimes they acted like waves instead. Quantum mechanics emerged to explain such quirks, but introduced troubling questions of its own. To take just one brow-wrinkling example, this new math implied that physical properties of the subatomic world, like the position of an electron, didnt really exist until they were observed.

Physicist Paul Benioff suggests quantum mechanics could be used for computation.

Nobel-winning physicist Richard Feynman, at Caltech, coins the term quantum computer.

Physicist David Deutsch, at Oxford, maps out how a quantum computer would operate, a blueprint that underpins the nascent industry of today.

Mathematician Peter Shor, at Bell Labs, writes an algorithm that could tap a quantum computers power to break widely used forms of encryption.

D-Wave, a Canadian startup, announces a quantum computing chip it says can solve Sudoku puzzles, triggering years of debate over whether the companys technology really works.

Google teams up with NASA to fund a lab to try out D-Waves hardware.

Google hires the professor behind some of the best quantum computer hardware yet to lead its new quantum hardware lab.

IBM puts some of its prototype quantum processors on the internet for anyone to experiment with, saying programmers need to get ready to write quantum code.

Startup Rigetti opens its own quantum computer fabrication facility to build prototype hardware and compete with Google and IBM.

If you find that baffling, youre in good company. A year before winning a Nobel for his contributions to quantum theory, Caltechs Richard Feynman remarked that nobody understands quantum mechanics. The way we experience the world just isnt compatible. But some people grasped it well enough to redefine our understanding of the universe. And in the 1980s a few of themincluding Feynmanbegan to wonder if quantum phenomena like subatomic particles’ dont look and I dont exist trick could be used to process information. The basic theory or blueprint for quantum computers that took shape in the 80s and 90s still guides Google and others working on the technology.

Before we belly flop into the murky shallows of quantum computing 0.101, we should refresh our understanding of regular old computers. As you know, smartwatches, iPhones, and the worlds fastest supercomputer all basically do the same thing: they perform calculations by encoding information as digital bits, aka 0s and 1s. A computer might flip the voltage in a circuit on and off to represent 1s and 0s for example.

Quantum computers do calculations using bits, too. After all, we want them to plug into our existing data and computers. But quantum bits, or qubits, have unique and powerful properties that allow a group of them to do much more than an equivalent number of conventional bits.

Qubits can be built in various ways, but they all represent digital 0s and 1s using the quantum properties of something that can be controlled electronically. Popular examplesat least among a very select slice of humanityinclude superconducting circuits, or individual atoms levitated inside electromagnetic fields. The magic power of quantum computing is that this arrangement lets qubits do more than just flip between 0 and 1. Treat them right and they can flip into a mysterious extra mode called a superposition.

The looped cables connect the chip at the bottom of the structure to its control system.

Amy Lombard

You may have heard that a qubit in superposition is both 0 and 1 at the same time. Thats not quite true and also not quite falsetheres just no equivalent in Homo sapiens humdrum classical reality. If you have a yearning to truly grok it, you must make a mathematical odyssey WIRED cannot equip you for. But in the simplified and dare we say perfect world of this explainer, the important thing to know is that the math of a superposition describes the probability of discovering either a 0 or 1 when a qubit is read outan operation that crashes it out of a quantum superposition into classical reality. A quantum computer can use a collection of qubits in superpositions to play with different possible paths through a calculation. If done correctly, the pointers to incorrect paths cancel out, leaving the correct answer when the qubits are read out as 0s and 1s.

A device that uses quantum mechanical effects to represent 0s and 1s of digital data, similar to the bits in a conventional computer.

It’s the trick that makes quantum computers tick, and makes qubits more powerful than ordinary bits. A superposition is in an intuition-defying mathematical combination of both 0 and 1. Quantum algorithms can use a group of qubits in a superposition to shortcut through calculations.

A quantum effect so unintuitive that Einstein dubbed it spooky action at a distance. When two qubits in a superposition are entangled, certain operations on one have instant effects on the other, a process that helps quantum algorithms be more powerful than conventional ones.

The holy grail of quantum computinga measure of how much faster a quantum computer could crack a problem than a conventional computer could. Quantum computers arent well-suited to all kinds of problems, but for some they offer an exponential speedup, meaning their advantage over a conventional computer grows explosively with the size of the input problem.

For some problems that are very time consuming for conventional computers, this allows a quantum computer to find a solution in far fewer steps than a conventional computer would need. Grovers algorithm, a famous quantum search algorithm, could find you in a phone book with 100 million names with just 10,000 operations. If a classical search algorithm just spooled through all the listings to find you, it would require 50 million operations, on average. For Grovers and some other quantum algorithms, the bigger the initial problemor phonebookthe further behind a conventional computer is left in the digital dust.

The reason we dont have useful quantum computers today is that qubits are extremely finicky. The quantum effects they must control are very delicate, and stray heat or noise can flip 0s and 1s, or wipe out a crucial superposition. Qubits have to be carefully shielded, and operated at very cold temperatures, sometimes only fractions of a degree above absolute zero. Most plans for quantum computing depend on using a sizable chunk of a quantum processors power to correct its own errors, caused by misfiring qubits.

Recent excitement about quantum computing stems from progress in making qubits less flaky. Thats giving researchers the confidence to start bundling the devices into larger groups. Startup Rigetti Computing recently announced it has built a processor with 128 qubits made with aluminum circuits that are super-cooled to make them superconducting. Google and IBM have announced their own chips with 72 and 50 qubits, respectively. Thats still far fewer than would be needed to do useful work with a quantum computerit would probably require at least thousandsbut as recently as 2016 those companies best chips had qubits only in the single digits. After tantalizing computer scientists for 30 years, practical quantum computing may not exactly be close, but it has begun to feel a lot closer.

Some large companies and governments have started treating quantum computing research like a raceperhaps fittingly its one where both the distance to the finish line and the prize for getting there are unknown.

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

Copper structures conduct heat well and connect the apparatus to its cooling system.

Amy Lombard

Back in the world of right now, though, quantum processors are too simple to do practical work. Google is working to stage a demonstration known as quantum supremacy, in which a quantum processor would solve a carefully designed math problem beyond existing supercomputers. But that would be an historic scientific milestone, not proof quantum computing is ready to do real work.

As quantum computer prototypes get larger, the first practical use for them will probably be for chemistry simulations. Computer models of molecules and atoms are vital to the hunt for new drugs or materials. Yet conventional computers cant accurately simulate the behavior of atoms and electrons during chemical reactions. Why? Because that behavior is driven by quantum mechanics, the full complexity of which is too great for conventional machines. Daimler and Volkswagen have both started investigating quantum computing as a way to improve battery chemistry for electric vehicles. Microsoft says other uses could include designing new catalysts to make industrial processes less energy intensive, or even to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to mitigate climate change.

Quantum computers would also be a natural fit for code-breaking. Weve known since the 90s that they could zip through the math underpinning the encryption that secures online banking, flirting, and shopping. Quantum processors would need to be much more advanced to do this, but governments and companies are taking the threat seriously. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is in the process of evaluating new encryption systems that could be rolled out to quantum-proof the internet.

When cooled to operating temperature, the whole assembly is hidden inside this white insulated casing.

Amy Lombard

Tech companies such as Google are also betting that quantum computers can make artificial intelligence more powerful. Thats further in the future and less well mapped out than chemistry or code-breaking applications, but researchers argue they can figure out the details down the line as they play around with larger and larger quantum processors. One hope is that quantum computers could help machine-learning algorithms pick up complex tasks using many fewer than the millions of examples typically used to train AI systems today.

Despite all the superposition-like uncertainty about when the quantum computing era will really begin, big tech companies argue that programmers need to get ready now. Google, IBM, and Microsoft have all released open source tools to help coders familiarize themselves with writing programs for quantum hardware. IBM has even begun to offer online access to some of its quantum processors, so anyone can experiment with them. Long term, the big computing companies see themselves making money by charging corporations to access data centers packed with supercooled quantum processors.

Whats in it for the rest of us? Despite some definite drawbacks, the age of conventional computers has helped make life safer, richer, and more convenientmany of us are never more than five seconds away from a kitten video. The era of quantum computers should have similarly broad reaching, beneficial, and impossible to predict consequences. Bring on the qubits.

The Quantum Computing Factory Thats Taking on Google and IBMPeek inside the ultra-clean workshop of Rigetti Computing, a startup packed with PhDs wearing what look like space suits and gleaming steampunk-style machines studded with bolts. In a facility across the San Francisco Bay from Silicon Valley, Rigetti is building its own quantum processors, using similar technology to that used by IBM and Google.

Why JP Morgan, Daimler Are Testing Quantum Computers That Arent Useful YetWall Street has plenty of quantsmath wizards who hunt profits using equations. Now JP Morgan has quantum quants, a small team collaborating with IBM to figure out how to use the power of quantum algorithms to more accurately model financial risk. Useful quantum computers are still years away, but the bank and other big corporations say that the potential payoffs are so large that they need to seriously investigate quantum computing today.

The Era of Quantum Computing is Here. Outlook: CloudyCompanies working on quantum computer hardware like to say that the field has transitioned from the exploration and uncertainty of science into the more predictable realm of engineering. Yet while hardware has improved markedly in recent years, and investment is surging, there are still open scientific questions about the physics underlying quantum computing.

Quantum Computing Will Create Jobs. But Which Ones?You cant create a new industry without people to staff the jobs it creates. A Congressional bill called the National Quantum Initiative seeks to have the US government invest in training the next generation of quantum computer technicians, designers, and entrepreneurs.

Job One For Quantum Computers: Boost Artificial IntelligenceArtificial intelligence and quantum computing are two of Silicon Valleys favorite buzzwords. If they can be successfully combined, machines will get a lot smarter.

Loopholes and the Anti-Realism Of the Quantum WorldEven people who can follow the math of quantum mechanics find its implications for reality perplexing. This book excerpt explains why quantum physics undermines our understanding of reality with nary an equation in sight.

Quantum Computing is the Next Security Big Security RiskIn 1994, mathematician Peter Shor wrote an algorithm that would allow a quantum computer to pierce the encryption that today underpins online shopping and other digital. As quantum computers get closer to reality, congressman Will Hurd (R-Texas) argues the US needs to lead a global effort to deploy new forms of quantum-resistant encryption.

This guide was last updated on August 24, 2018.

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Quantum Computing – News, Reviews, Features – New Atlas

Colin Jeffrey August 18, 2016

Chinese scientists claim to have launched the world’s first quantum communications satellite with which they intend to experiment with quantum communication and teleportation from space, in the hope of one day producing an entire global network of quantum communication systems.

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Quantum Computing – News, Reviews, Features – New Atlas

Quantum Computing | Centre for Quantum Computation and …

UNSW researchers at CQC2T have shown for the first time that they can build atomic precision qubits in a 3D device another major step towards a universal quantum computer.

The researchers, led by 2018 Australian of the Year and Director of CQC2T Professor Michelle Simmons, have demonstrated that they can extend their atomic qubit fabrication technique to multiple layers of a silicon crystal achieving a critical component of the 3D chip architecture that they introduced to the world in 2015. This new research is published today in Nature Nanotechnology.

The group is the first to demonstrate the feasibility of an architecture that uses atomic-scale qubits aligned to control lines which are essentially very narrow wires inside a 3D design. Whats more, team members were able to align the different layers in their 3D device with nanometer precision and showed they could read out qubit states single shot, i.e. within one single measurement, with very high fidelity.

This 3D device architecture is a significant advancement for atomic qubits in silicon, says Professor Simmons.

Read full articleRead Nature Nanotechnology publicationWatch Video: https://youtu.be/8JB7ncztJWs

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Quantum Computing – VLAB

Quantum ComputingTechnology Nirvana or Security Armageddon?

Quantum computing promises to create the most fundamental change in the history of computing. The increases in processing power and speed will enable new capabilities that would take years or maybe are simply not possible using classical computing technologies. From molecular and financial modeling to weather forecasting and artificial intelligence, quantum computing represents the biggest advance in decades.

Perhaps the greatest impact and most dangerous threat will be in cryptography. Capable of instantly breaking todays strongest data encryption algorithms, quantum computing is a major focus of governments, multinational corporations, and a growing number of startups around the globe. Theoretically, the first organization to build a quantum computer will have the power to break any existing security key anywhere, potentially wreaking havoc on entire societies, militaries, and economies. The race is on.

Join us on November 15 to find out.

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Alexei Marchenkov, Founder and CEO, Bleximo

Louis Parks, Founder and CEO, SecureRF

Pete Shadbolt, Chief Science Officer, psiQuantum

Hratch Achadjian, Quantum Computing & AI, Head of Business Development North America, Google

Joseph Raffa, Director, IBM Ventures

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Quantum Computing | D-Wave Systems

Quantum Computation

Rather than store information using bits represented by 0s or 1s as conventional digital computers do, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, to encode information as 0s, 1s, or both at the same time. This superposition of statesalong with the other quantum mechanical phenomena of entanglement and tunnelingenables quantum computers to manipulate enormous combinations of states at once.

In nature, physical systems tend to evolve toward their lowest energy state: objects slide down hills, hot things cool down, and so on. This behavior also applies to quantum systems. To imagine this, think of a traveler looking for the best solution by finding the lowest valley in the energy landscape that represents the problem.

Classical algorithms seek the lowest valley by placing the traveler at some point in the landscape and allowing that traveler to move based on local variations. While it is generally most efficient to move downhill and avoid climbing hills that are too high, such classical algorithms are prone to leading the traveler into nearby valleys that may not be the global minimum. Numerous trials are typically required, with many travelers beginning their journeys from different points.

In contrast, quantum annealing begins with the traveler simultaneously occupying many coordinates thanks to the quantum phenomenon of superposition. The probability of being at any given coordinate smoothly evolves as annealing progresses, with the probability increasing around the coordinates of deep valleys. Quantum tunneling allows the traveller to pass through hillsrather than be forced to climb themreducing the chance of becoming trapped in valleys that are not the global minimum. Quantum entanglement further improves the outcome by allowing the traveler to discover correlations between the coordinates that lead to deep valleys.

The D-Wave system has a web API with client libraries available for C/C++, Python, and MATLAB. This allows users to access the computer easily as a cloud resource over a network.

To program the system, a user maps a problem into a search for the lowest point in a vast landscape, corresponding to the best possible outcome. The quantum processing unitconsiders all the possibilities simultaneously to determine the lowest energy required to form those relationships. The solutions are values that correspond to the optimal configurations of qubits found, or the lowest points in the energy landscape. These values are returned to the user program over the network.

Because a quantum computer is probabilistic rather than deterministic, the computer returns many very good answers in a short amount of timethousands of samples in one second. This provides not only the best solution found but also other very good alternatives from which to choose.

D-Wave systems are intended to be used to complement classical computers. There are many examples of problems where a quantum computer can complement an HPC (high-performance computing) system. While the quantum computer is well suited to discrete optimization, for example,the HPC system is better at large-scale numerical simulations.

Download this whitepaper to learn more about programming a D-Wave quantum computer.

D-Waves flagship product, the 2000qubit D-Wave 2000Q quantum computer, is the most advanced quantum computer in the world. It is based on a novel type of superconducting processor that uses quantum mechanics to massively accelerate computation. It is best suited to tackling complex optimization problems that exist across many domains such as:

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Quantum Computing | D-Wave Systems

The 3 Types of Quantum Computers and Their Applications

on March 14, 2016 at 11:42 am

Its an exciting time in computing.

Just days ago, Googles AlphaGo AI took an insurmountable lead in the 3,000 year-old game of Go against the reigning world champion, Lee Sedol. In a five-game series, the score is now 3-1 for the machine with one game left on March 15, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea.

While IBMs Deep Blue beat reigning chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997 by using brute force, Go is a game with more possible moves than atoms in the known universe (literally). Therefore, the technology doesnt yet exist to make such calculations in short amounts of time.

Google had to take a different approach: to beat the grand master, it needed to enable AlphaGo to self-improve through deep learning.

AlphaGos historical decision is a milestone for artificial intelligence, and now the technology community is anxiously waiting to see whats next for AI. Some say that it is beating a human world champion at a real-time strategy game such as Starcraft, while others look to quantum computing technology that could raise the potential power of AI exponentially.

While everyday analog computing is limited to having a single value of either 0 or 1 for each bit, quantum computing uses quantum bits (qubits) that are simultaneously in both states (0 and 1) at the same time.

The consequence of this superposition, as its called, is that quantum computers are able to test every solution of a problem at once. Further, because of this exponential relationship, such computers should be able to double their quantum computing power with each additional qubit.

Image credit: Universe Review

There are three types of quantum computers that are considered to be possible by IBM. Shown in the above infographic, they range from a quantum annealer to a universal quantum.

The quantum annealer has been successfully developed by Canadian company D-Wave, but it is difficult to tell whether it actually has any real quantumness thus far. Google added credibility to this notion in December 2015, when it revealed tests showing that its D-Wave quantum computer was 3,600 times faster than a supercomputer at solving specific, complex problems.

Expert opinion, however, is still skeptical on these claims. Such criticisms also shed light on the major limitation of quantum annealers, which is that they may only be engineered to solve very specific optimization problems, and have limited general practicality.

The holy grail of quantum computing is the universal quantum, which could allow for exponentially faster calculations with more generality.

However, building such a device ends up posing a number of important technical challenges. Quantum particles turn out to be quite fickle, and the smallest interference from light or sound can create errors in the computing process.

Doing calculations at exponential speeds is not very useful when those calculations are incorrect.

IBM highlights just some of the possibilities around universal quantum computers in a recent press release:

A universal quantum computer uses quantum mechanics to process massive amounts of data and perform computations in powerful new ways not possible with todays conventional computers. This type of leap forward in computing could one day shorten the time to discovery for life-saving cancer drugs to a fraction of what it is today; unlock new facets of artificial intelligence by vastly accelerating machine learning; or safeguard cloud computing systems to be impregnable from cyber-attack.

This means that quantum computing could be a trillion dollar market, touching massive future markets such as artificial intelligence, robotics, defense, cryptography, and pharmaceuticals.

However, until a universal quantum can be built, the market remains fairly limited in size and focused on R&D. Quantum computing is expected to surpass a market of $5 billion market by 2020.

As a final note: its worth seeing where quantum computing sits on Gartners emerging technology hype cycle:

Gartner still describes it as being 10 years or more away from reaching the plateau.

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Jeff is the Editor-in-Chief of Visual Capitalist, a media site that creates and curates visuals on business and investing. He has been quoted or featured on Business Insider, Forbes, CNBC, MarketWatch, The Huffington Post, The World Economic Forum, and Fast Company.

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The 3 Types of Quantum Computers and Their Applications


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