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Category Archives: Quantum Computing

New Methods of Controlling Electrons Could be Major in Quantum Computing – TrendinTech

Posted: August 6, 2017 at 3:40 am

UCLA researchers HongWen Jiang, professor of physics, and graduate student, Joshua Schoenfield have discovered a method for controlling and measuring the valley states of electrons in a silicon quantum dot, an essential key to stabilizing the qubits of a quantum computer. Their full findings are available in the journal Nature Communications.

A *quantum dot is a finite area of silicon that captures electrons, allowing researchers to alter their charge and spin. The valley state, a particular part of an electrons movement where it lays low in the texture of the silicones structure, has only recently been understood to have importance in the information storage of a qubit. If the silicon is imperfect in any way an electrons Valley state can be altered to dramatic and unpredictable effect. The valley state is inherent to the nature and action of a functioning qubit.

Normally, an electrons movement is quick and continual, challenging a researchers ability to keep it in a valley state for study. However, when UCLA scientists cooled a silicon quantum dot to almost absolute zero, the movement of electrons slowed enough for manipulation, measurement, and control. This was done by rapidly pulsing electricity to move individual electrons up and over the valleys.

Additionally, they were able to detect the fractional energy contrast between unique valleys, previously not possible by standard techniques.

Jiang and Schoenfield expect to further develop the technique used in order to have more control of qubits based on interacting valley states.

*Quantum dots(QD) are very smallsemiconductorparticles, only severalnanometresin size, so small that their optical and electronic properties differ from those of larger particles. They are a central theme innanotechnology. Source: Wikipedia

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New Methods of Controlling Electrons Could be Major in Quantum Computing – TrendinTech

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Clarifiying complex chemical processes with quantum computers – Phys.Org

Posted: at 3:40 am

July 31, 2017 by Fabio Bergamin Future quantum computers will be able to calculate the reaction mechanism of the enzyme nitrogenase. The image shows the active centre of the enzyme and a mathematical formula that is central for the calculation. Credit: Visualisations: ETH Zurich

Science and the IT industry have high hopes for quantum computing, but descriptions of possible applications tend to be vague. Researchers at ETH Zurich have now come up with a concrete example that demonstrates what quantum computers will actually be able to achieve in the future.

Specialists expect nothing less than a technological revolution from quantum computers, which they hope will soon allow them to solve problems that are currently too complex for classical supercomputers. Commonly discussed areas of application include data encryption and decryption, as well as special problems in the fields of physics, quantum chemistry and materials research.

But when it comes to concrete questions that only quantum computers can answer, experts have remained relatively vague. Researchers from ETH Zurich and Microsoft Research are now presenting a specific application for the first time in the scientific journal PNAS: evaluating a complex chemical reaction. Based on this example, the scientists show that quantum computers can indeed deliver scientifically relevant results.

A team of researchers led by ETH professors Markus Reiher and Matthias Troyer used simulations to demonstrate how a complex chemical reaction could be calculated with the help of a quantum computer. To accomplish this, the quantum computer must be of a “moderate size”, says Matthias Troyer, who is Professor for Computational Physics at ETH Zurich and currently works for Microsoft. The mechanism of this reaction would be nearly impossible to assess with a classical supercomputer alone especially if the results are to be sufficiently precise.

One of the most complex enzymes

The researchers chose a particularly complex biochemical reaction as the example for their study: thanks to a special enzyme known as a nitrogenase, certain microorganisms are able to split atmospheric nitrogen molecules in order to create chemical compounds with single nitrogen atoms. It is still unknown how exactly the nitrogenase reaction works. “This is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in chemistry,” says Markus Reiher, Professor for Theoretical Chemistry at ETH Zurich.

Computers that are available today are able to calculate the behaviour of simple molecules quite precisely. However, this is nearly impossible for the nitrogenase enzyme and its active centre, which is simply too complex, explains Reiher.

In this context, complexity is a reflection of how many electrons interact with each other within the molecule over relatively long distances. The more electrons a researcher needs to take into account, the more sophisticated the computations. “Existing methods and classical supercomputers can be used to assess molecules with about 50 strongly interacting electrons at most,” says Reiher. However, there is a significantly greater number of such electrons at the active centre of a nitrogenase enzyme. Because with classical computers the effort required to evaluate a molecule doubles with each additional electron, an unrealistic amount of computational power is needed.

Another computer architecture

As demonstrated by the ETH researchers, hypothetical quantum computers with just 100 to 200 quantum bits (qubits) will potentially be able to compute complex subproblems within a few days. The results of these computations could then be used to determine the reaction mechanism of nitrogenase step by step.

That quantum computers are capable of solving such challenging tasks at all is partially the result of the fact that they are structured differently to classical computers. Rather than requiring twice as many bits to assess each additional electron, quantum computers simply need one more qubit.

However, it remains to be seen when such “moderately large” quantum computers will be available. The currently existing experimental quantum computers use on the order of 20 rudimentary qubits respectively. It will take at least another five years, or more likely ten, before we have quantum computers with processors of more than 100 high quality qubits, estimates Reiher.

Mass production and networking

Researchers emphasise the fact that quantum computers cannot handle all tasks, so they will serve as a supplement to classical computers, rather than replacing them. “The future will be shaped by the interplay between classical computers and quantum computers,” says Troyer.

With regard to the nitrogenase reaction, quantum computers will be able to calculate how the electrons are distributed within a specific molecular structure. However, classical computers will still need to tell quantum computers which structures are of particular interest and should therefore be calculated. “Quantum computers need to be thought of more like a co-processor capable of taking over particular tasks from classical computers, thus allowing them to become more efficient,” says Reiher.

Explaining the mechanism of the nitrogenase reaction will also require more than just information about the electron distribution in a single molecular structure; indeed, this distribution needs to be determined in thousands of structures. Each computation takes several days. “In order for quantum computers to be of use in solving these kinds of problems, they will first need to be mass produced, thereby allowing computations to take place on multiple computers at the same time,” says Troyer.

Explore further: Developing quantum algorithms for optimization problems

More information: Markus Reiher et al. Elucidating reaction mechanisms on quantum computers, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1619152114

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Clarifiying complex chemical processes with quantum computers – Phys.Org

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What is quantum computing and why does the future of Earth depend on it? – Alphr

Posted: at 3:40 am

Computing power is reaching a crisis point. If we continue to follow a trend in place since computers were introduced, by 2040 we will not have the capability to power all of the machines in the world. Unless we can crack quantum computing.

Quantum computers promise faster speeds and stronger security than their classical counterpart and scientists have been striving to create a quantum computer for decades. But what is quantum computing and why have we not achieved it yet?

Quantum computing differs to classical computing in one fundamental way the way information is stored. Quantum computing makes the most of a strange property of quantum mechanics, called superposition. It means one unit can hold much more information than the equivalent in classical computing.

In computing, information is stored in bits in either the state 1 or 0, like a light switch either turned on or off. By contrast, in quantum computing the unit of information can be 1 or 0, or a superposition of the two states.

Think of it like a sphere, with a 1 written at the north pole and a 0 at the south. A classical bit can be found at either pole, but a quantum bit, or qubit, could be found on any point on the surface of the sphere.

Quantum bits that can be on and off at the same time, provide a revolutionary high-performance paradigm where information is stored and processed more efficiently,” Dr Kuei-Lin Chiu, who researches quantum mechanical behaviour of materials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Alphr.

The ability to store a much greater amount of information in one unit means quantum computing has the potential to be faster and more energy efficient than computers we use today. So why is it so hard to achieve?

Qubits, the backbone of a quantum computer, are tricky to make and, once made, are even harder to control; scientists must get them to interact in specific ways that would work in a quantum computer.

Researchers have tried using superconducting materials, ions held in ion traps or individual neutral atoms, as well as molecules of varying complexity to build them. But, making them hold onto quantum information for a long time is proving difficult.

In recent research, scientists at MIT devised a new approach, using a cluster of simple molecules made of just two atoms as qubits.

We are using ultracold molecules as qubits Professor Martin Zwierlein, lead author of the paper told Alphr. Molecules have long been proposed as a carrier of quantum information, with very advantageous properties over other systems like atoms, ions, superconducting qubits etc.

Here we show for the first time that you can store such quantum information for extended periods of time in a gas of ultracold molecules. Of course, an eventual quantum computer will have to also make calculations, i.e. have the qubits interact with each other to realise so-called gates. But first, you need to show that you can even hold on to quantum information, and thats what we have done.

The qubits created were found to be capable of holding onto the quantum information for longer than previous attempts, but still only for one second. This might sound short, but it is “in fact on the order of a thousand times longer than a comparable experiment that has been done” explained Zwierlein.

It is not just qubits, however. Scientists also need to work out what to make the quantum computing chips out of.

Chius paper, published earlier this year, found ultra-thin layers of materials could form the basis for a quantum computing chip. The interesting thing about this research is how we choose the right material, find out its unique properties and use its advantage to build a suitable qubit, Chiu, told Alphr.

Moores Law predicts that the density of transistors on silicon chips doubleapproximately every 18 months, Chiu told Alphr. However, these progressively shrunken transistors will eventually reach a small scale where quantum mechanics play an important role.

Moores Law, which Chiu referred to, is a computing term developed by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1970. It states that the overall processing power for computers doubles about every two years. As Chiu states, the density of the chips decreases a problem that quantum computing chips can potentially answer.

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What is quantum computing and why does the future of Earth depend on it? – Alphr

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When Will Quantum Computers Be Consumer Products? – Futurism

Posted: at 3:40 am

In BriefQuantum computers are rapidly developing, but when will we beable to add one to our Christmas lists? Here is a timeline for whenyou can expect to see quantum computers on the shelves of yourlocal tech store. Technological Revolution

Quantum computers are making an entrance, and its a dramatic one. Even in its infancy, the technology isoutperforming the conventional competition and is expected to make the field of cryptography as we know it obsolete. Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize several sectors, including the financial and medical industries.

Quantum computers can processesa greater number of calculations because they rely on quantum bits(qubits), which canbe onesand zeroessimultaneously, unlikeclassical bits that must be either a one or a zero. The company D-Wave is releasing a version of a quantum computer this year, but its not a fully formed embodiment of this technology. So we asked our readers when we should expect to see quantum computers available as consumer products?

Almost 80 percent of respondents believed we will be able to buy our own quantum computer before 2050, and the decade that received the most votes about 34 percent was the 2030s. Respondent Solomon Duffin explained why his prediction, the2040s, was slightly more pessimistic than those of the majority.

In the 2020s, we will have quantum computers that are significantly better than super computers today, but they most likely wont be in mass use by governments and companies until the 2030s. Eventually toward the end of the 2030s and early 2040s theyll shrink down to a size and cost viable for consumer use. Before that point even with the exponential growth of technology I dont think that it would be cost efficient enough for the average consumer to replace regular computing with quantum computing.

Quantum computers are indeed currently out of the price range of the average consumer, and will likely stay that way for a few years at least. The $15 million price tag for theD-Wave 2000Qhas a long way to drop before it makes it to a Black Friday sale.

But the technology is rapidly advancing, and experts are optimistic that we will soon see a bonafide, functioning quantum computer in all of its glory. In fact, an international team of researchers wrote in a study published in Physical Review, Recent improvements in the control of quantum systems make it seem feasible to finally build a quantum computer within a decade.

Andrew Dzurak,Professor in Nanoelectronics at University of New South Wales, said in an interview with CIOthat he hopes quantum computers will be able to advance scientific research, for example, by simulating what potential drugs would do in the human body. However,Dzurak said he expects it will take 20 years for quantum computers to be useful enough for that kind of application.

I think that within ten years, there will be demonstrations of modelling of certain chemicals and drugs that couldnt be done today but I dont think there will be a convenient, routine [system] that [people] can use, Dzurak said in the interview. To move to that stage will take another decade further beyond that.

Dzurak also expressed his doubts that quantum computers will be very useful to the average consumer since they can get most of what they want using conventional computers. But D-Wave international president Bo Ewald thinks thats just because we havent imagined what we could do with the technology yet. This is why D-Wave has released a new software toolto help developers make programs for the companys computers.

D-Wave is driving the hardware forward, Ewald said in an interview with Wired. But we need more smart people thinking about applications, and another set thinking about software tools.

See all of the Futurism predictions and make your own predictions here.

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Exactly what could quantum computers do? – Electronics Weekly

Posted: at 3:40 am

They picked a knotty problem understanding how the enzyme nitrogenase allows plants to use nitrogen from the atmosphere to make their own fertilizer something that is unknown.

Computers available today, said EHT chemistry professor Markus Reiher can calculate the behaviour of simple molecules quite precisely, but not nitrogenase , which is too complex.

Existing methods and classical supercomputers can be used to assess molecules with about 50 strongly interacting electrons at most, he said, but there are significantly more at the active centre of nitrogenase enzyme, and classical computing effort doubles with each additional electron.

A hypothetical quantum computer with 100 to 200qubits was imagined, that could compute electron positions for a particular arrangement of atoms in a few days, and the results of many of these calculations could be combined to determine the nitrogenase reaction step by step.

That quantum computers are capable of solving such challenges is partially their different structure compared to classical computers. According to ETH, a quantum computers needs only one extra qubit per added electron, rather than a doubling if bits.

Our resource estimates show that, even when taking into account the substantial overhead of quantum error correction, and the need to compile into discrete gate sets, the necessary computations can be performed in reasonable time on small quantum computers, said the research team in Elucidating reaction mechanisms on quantum computers, published in the proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences.

When will such moderately large quantum computers will be available?

Current experimental quantum computers use ~20 rudimentary qubits, said Reiher, estimating that it will take at least another five years, or more likely ten, before quantum computers more than 100 high quality qubits exist.

The researchers emphasise that quantum computers cannot handle all tasks: they will supplement classical computers. The future will be shaped by the interplay between classical computers and quantum computers, said ETH computatonal physicist Professor Matthias Troyer

For nitrogenase, according to ETH, suchcomputers will be able to calculate how the electrons are distributed within a specific molecular structure. But classical computers will be required to tell the quantum computer which potential structures are of particular interest and should be calculated.

Quantum computers need to be thought of more like a co-processor capable of taking over particular tasks from classical computers, thus allowing them to become more efficient, said Reiher.

In order for quantum computers to be of use in solving these kinds of problems, they will first need to be mass produced, thereby allowing computations to take place on multiple computers at the same time, said Troyer.

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Exactly what could quantum computers do? – Electronics Weekly

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Quantum Computing in the Enterprise: Not So Wild a Dream – EnterpriseTech

Posted: July 17, 2017 at 4:41 am

This publication examines the migration of HPC technologies from the specialized realms of supercomputing to business-ready solutions for compute- and data-intensive business problems. As such, quantum computing isnt covered frequently it resides in the nether regions of theoretical possibility, if not in incubation then in infancy.

But quantum computing nonetheless compels our interest as the mother of all potential computational breakthroughs, something commensurate, technologically speaking, to our capacity for wonder.*** Impressive as are the throughput gains from GPUs, FPGAs, ASICs, ARM and the latest generation of CPUs, we know theyll all be relegated to the dustbin of computing history if quantum computing becomes a practical reality.

Mounting evidence suggests IT strategists at companies with HPC-class requirements shouldnt ignore quantum computing. In a limited way, it already is a reality, and important strides in its development are increasingly frequent. Another key indicator, R&D spending and venture capital investments, signal that quantum may be moving to a new stage of maturity.

David Schatsky of Deloitte University

We discussed these trends with David Schatsky, of the Deloitte University think tank, who has recently written on the state of quantum, and pressed him to predict quantum computings next important milestone toward commercial viability. Such is the elusive nature of the technology, and in the knowledge how difficult progress has been in its 30 years of existence, that Schatsky swathed his response in caveats.

Ill only give you a guess if you include that nobody really has an idea, especially me, he said good naturedly. But I think what were likely to see is answers to questions arrived at through the application of quantum computing in a laboratory setting first. It could be some kind of research question that a quantum computer has been especially designed to answer, in an R&D kind of setting. I wouldnt be shocked if we see things like that in a couple of years.

Though he cautions quantum may be a decade or more from useful purpose in the enterprise, he also advises companies in financial services, oil & gas and other industries with HPC-class workloads to remain open its nearer-term potential, even before quantum machines are commercially available. While mainstream commercial applications of quantum computing are likely years away, executives can do a number of things to begin to prepare their enterprises for the era of quantum computing.

He also said that quantum supremacy, which is the creation of a general-purpose quantum computer that can perform a task no classical computer can, could be imminent. Google has announced a 9-qubit quantum computer, and has published a paper suggesting its researchers believe that a planned 50-qubit computer could achieve that goal in the next couple of years, Schatsky said.

Actual commercial viability for quantum computing is probably in the 15-year time frame, he said, adding that while quantum computing is expected be used for somewhat tightly focused analytical problems, if quantum computing becomes a really commercially accessible platform, these things have a way of creating a virtuous cycle where the capability to solve problems can draw new problem types and new uses for them. So I think we may be able to use them in ways we cant image today.

More immediate impact from quantum could come in the form of hybrid strategies that merge HPC systems with quantum computing techniques, Schatsky said, attacking HPC-class problems with the infusion of quantum thinking.

In his recent writings, Schatsky highlighted several key points:

Schatsky reported quantum computing is already impacting the data security field: encryption. The problem is the potential for quantum computers, in the hands of hackers, to break open a core technique for securing transactions: the impossibility, using current technologies, of quickly finding the prime factors of large numbers.

For example, it would take a classical computer 10.79 quintillion years to break the 128-bit AES encryption standard, Schatsky said, while a quantum computer could conceivably break this type of encryption in approximately six months. This has led to a search for encryption methods that would be resistant to attacks from quantum computers to make information systems quantum resistant.

Led in part by the National Security Agency, extensive work is being done in the areas of post-quantum cryptography.

Enterprises are already thinking about risks to their encrypted data even before quantum encryption attacks become a reality, Schatsky said. They are restricting access to or completely deleting sensitive data, even in encrypted formats, to prevent hostiles from capturing that scrambled data with the hope of decrypting it with quantum computers in the future.

We wont belabor an attempt at explaining how quantum computing works (if you want to dig into this, see detailed discussions in Schatskys content on the Deloitte University site). Schatsky calls it a fantastical form of computing that harnesses that bizarre properties of subatomic particles, as described by quantum mechanics, and in so doing will be able to perform certain kinds of calculations exponentially faster than the fastest computers currently known. At its core is the elimination of steps that a conventional computer goes through to complete a complex task.

From Theory to Proof

In practical terms, quantum computing moved beyond theory in the mid-90s when a Bell Labs researcher proved that a quantum computer could excel at whats called the phonebook problem defined as finding something in an unsorted list, such as looking up someone in the phonebook by her phone number rather than name. Whereas a normal algorithm would inspect every phone number in the book until the correct match is identified, the researcher found that a quantum computer could do it in far fewer steps specifically, Schatsky explained, the number of steps equal to the square root of the number of entries in the phone book.

Finding the matching phone number in a list of a billion entries would require just 31,623 operations the square root of a billion and, obviously, a small fraction of the time, he said.

The engineering challenges involved in building a quantum computer are formidable. The D-Wave Systems device, for example, operates in an enclosure that takes clean room sterility to an extreme. The system must be isolated from the outside environment at temperatures colder than interstellar space, Schatsky reports. A typical quantum bit, or qubit (quantums version of the data bit in conventional computing) is never long for this world. It maintains its state for perhaps 50 microseconds before errors creep in. And even reading the value of a qubit is a very exacting process. The difference in energy between a zero and a one is just 10^-24 joulesone ten-trillionth as much as an X-ray photon.

Private Sector Pushes Forward

Schatsky said that even in the face of these challenges, dozens of public and private sector organizations are researching potential applications.

Financial services firms are notably active, he said. Barclays, Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions are investigating the potential use of quantum computing in areas such as portfolio optimization, asset pricing, capital project budgeting, and data security.

In aerospace, Airbus and Lockheed Martin are exploring applications in communications, cryptography, complex systems verification and machine learning, he reports, adding that the U.S. Navy is investing in training in quantum while investigating data storage and energy-efficient data retrieval with underwater autonomous robots. NASA, Alibaba, Google and IBM are among the organizations working on applications from distributed navigation to hack-resistant personalized medicine and drug discovery.

Major IT vendors also are active in quantum computing that, Schatsky said, may lead to commercial products. Google, IBM, Intel, HPE, Microsoft, Nokia Bell Labs and Raytheon are building qubits and quantum gates (basic circuits) and exploring quantum algorithms, among other R&D activities.

Schatsky said enough progress has been made that some researchers have taken the optimistic view that quantum has progressed from basic science to engineering.


For IT strategists at companies with HPC-class workload requirements who are interested in preparing for quantum, Schatsky has several suggestions around the adoption of quantum thinking for extreme scale challenges. These include reimagining analytic workloads, such as risk management, forecasting, planning and optimization.

Executives should ask themselves, What would happen if we could do these computations a million times faster? The answer could lead to new insights about operations and strategy.

Schatsky also reports that researchers have found ways for quantum to impact and improve problem solving handled by conventional computers. Some researchers are seeking to bring quantum thinking to classical problems. He cited Kyndi, a start-up that uses quantum-inspired computing technology for machine intelligence.

For enterprises that use HPC, Schatsky suggests learning about hybrid architectures, which link conventional HPC systems with quantum computers, may become common, he said, such as one described by D-Wave. He also points academic partnerships, pointing to the example of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which is supporting quantum computing readiness by collaborating with academic institutions researching quantum.

Finally, Schatsky recommends companies develop post-quantum cybersecurity plans that include crypto agility, the ability to swiftly switch out algorithms for newer, more secure ones as theyre released. This is a strategy to ward off security threats in the future, when quantum computing security threats materialize.

Firms need to pay attention to these developments and have roadmaps in place to follow through on those recommendations, he said. A risk is that adversaries could capture and store encrypted data today for decryption in the future, when quantum computers become available.

Most CIOs will not be submitting budgets with line items for quantum computing in the next two years, Schatsky said. But that doesnt mean leaders should ignore this field. Because it is advancing rapidly, and because its impact is likely to be large, business and technology strategists should keep an eye on quantum starting now.

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Quantum Computer, hug me openly! DROPLEX ICO – newsBTC

Posted: July 14, 2017 at 5:44 am

There had been times where the HTTPS protocol was deemed secure. Now gone. We live in times where Bitcoins blockchain is deemed secure, and unless 51% attack happens it is safe haven to store wealth in Bitcoin. Yet, in a very near future, that is about to change.

Quantum computing modelled by Ben Larzinski.

In the last decade, the scientists from US, Canada and Australia have progressed by leaps and bounds in the field of quantum comping. First quantum computers are already being built by Canadian D-WAVE. These luckily have one defect cannot kill Bitcoin. Yikes!

Worse threat to Bitcoin however is the cooperation of NASA, CIA (read NSA) and Google. The three are building a special 50-qubit strong quantum computer of their own, which will kill Bitcoin. Have they succeeded yet? Unfortunately we will get to know after its too late. Google, however is deploying their 49-qubit (weak) version by the end of 2017

We will know after its late. Like with the NSAs exploit ETERNALBLUE leaked by ShadowBrokers hacker group, which gave birth to a massive cryptocurrency botnet in May 2017.

Losing all our cryptocurrency holdings in a brink of the moment is something that can happen. Why is this possible? 50-qubit quantum computers can use Shors Algorithm and Grover Algorithm to polynomially reduce the difficulty of all of the commonly-used public-key algorithms. This includes RSA, DSA, DH, and all forms of elliptic-curve cryptography. Instead of taking years to break the cipher, it will take hours.

Introducing Droplex, the experts behind cryptocurrency blockchain using quantum resistant encryption.

When quantum computers come, you will welcome them with an open hug.

Droplex develops a Public-key blockchain that is secure against QC. Their team together with most Bitcoin experts have agreed on using Lamport signatures. The question however was in deploying it. Because reaching consensus for a much smaller disruption such as blocksize change is a heroic task, the Droplex team has decided to save the day on their own! Developers are creating their own cryptocurrency running on a quantum resistant blockchain.

Droplex team includes experts from the field of Quantum Computing from the US and Australia. In whitepaper, they explain how Lamport-Diffie and Winternitz one-time-signatures can be leveraged to create quantum resistant blockchain.

Droplex team precisely follows their roadmap:

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Quantum Computer, hug me openly! DROPLEX ICO – newsBTC

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Why you might trust a quantum computer with secretseven over … – Phys.Org

Posted: at 5:44 am

July 12, 2017 It may be possible to control a quantum computer over the internet without revealing what you are calculating, thanks to the many possible ways that information can flow through a computation. That’s the conclusion of researchers in Singapore and Australia who studied the measurement-based model of quantum computing, reported 11 July in the open-access journal Physical Review X. Credit: Timothy Yeo / Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore

Here’s the scenario: you have sensitive data and a problem that only a quantum computer can solve. You have no quantum devices yourself. You could buy time on a quantum computer, but you don’t want to give away your secrets. What can you do?

Writing in Physical Review X on 11 July, researchers in Singapore and Australia propose a way you could use a quantum computer securely, even over the internet. The technique could hide both your data and program from the computer itself. Their work counters earlier hints that such a feat is impossible.

The scenario is not far-fetched. Quantum computers promise new routes to solving problems in cryptography, modelling and machine learning, exciting government and industry. Such problems may involve confidential data or be commercially sensitive.

Technology giants are already investing in building such computersand making them available to users. For example, IBM announced on 17 May this year that it is making a quantum computer with 16 quantum bits accessible to the public for free on the cloud, as well as a 17-qubit prototype commercial processor.

Seventeen qubits are not enough to outperform the world’s current supercomputers, but as quantum computers gain qubits, they are expected to exceed the capabilities of any machine we have today. That should drive demand for access.

“We’re looking at what’s possible if you’re someone just interacting with a quantum computer across the internet from your laptop. We find that it’s possible to hide some interesting computations,” says Joseph Fitzsimons, a Principal Investigator at the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at the National University of Singapore and Associate Professor at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), who led the work.

Quantum computers work by processing bits of information stored in quantum states. Unlike the binary bits found in our regular (i.e., classical) computers, each a 0 or 1, qubits can be in superpositions of 0 and 1. The qubits can also be entangled, which is believed to be crucial to a quantum computer’s power.

The scheme designed by Fitzsimons and his colleagues brings secrecy to a form of quantum computing driven by measurements.

In this scheme, the quantum computer is prepared by putting all its qubits into a special type of entangled state. Then the computation is carried out by measuring the qubits one by one. The user provides step-wise instructions for each measurement: the steps encode both the input data and the program.

Researchers have shown previously that users who can make or measure qubits to convey instructions to the quantum computer could disguise their computation. The new paper extends that power to users who can only send classical bits – i.e. most of us, for now.

This is surprising because some computer science theorems imply that encrypted quantum computation is impossible when only classical communication is available.

The hope for security comes from the quantum computer not knowing which steps of the measurement sequence do what. The quantum computer can’t tell which qubits were used for inputs, which for operations and which for outputs.

“It’s extremely exciting. You can use this unique feature of the measurement-based model of quantum computingthe way information flows through the stateas a crypto tool to hide information from the server,” says team member Tommaso Demarie of CQT and SUTD.

Although the owner of the quantum computer could try to reverse engineer the sequence of measurements performed, ambiguity about the role of each step leads to many possible interpretations of what calculation was done. The true calculation is hidden among the many, like a needle in a haystack.

The set of interpretations grows rapidly with the number of qubits. “The set of all possible computations is exponentially large – that’s one of the things we prove in the paperand therefore the chance of guessing the real computation is exponentially small,” says Fitzsimons. One question remains: could meaningful computations be so rare among all the possible ones that the guessing gets easier? That’s what the researchers need to check next.

Nicolas Menicucci at the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and Atul Mantri at SUTD, are coauthors on the work.

“Quantum computers became famous in the ’90s with the discovery that they could break some classical cryptography schemesbut maybe quantum computing will instead be known for making the future of cloud computing secure,” says Mantri.

Explore further: Refrigerator for quantum computers discovered

More information: Atul Mantri et al, Flow Ambiguity: A Path Towards Classically Driven Blind Quantum Computation, Physical Review X (2017). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevX.7.031004

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Why you might trust a quantum computer with secretseven over … – Phys.Org

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Quantum computers compete for supremacy – Salon

Posted: at 5:44 am

Scientists have long dreamed of developing quantum computers, machines that rely on arcane laws of physics to perform tasks far beyond the capability of todays strongest supercomputers. In theory such a machine could create mathematical models too complex for standard computers, vastly extending the range and accuracy of weather forecasts and financial market predictions, among other things. They could simulate physical processes such as photosynthesis, opening new frontiers in green energy. Quantum computing could also jolt artificial intelligence to a vastly higher level of sophistication: If IBMs Watson can already win at Jeopardy! and make some medical diagnoses, imagine what an enormously smarter version could do.

But to realize those visions, scientists first have to figure out how to actually build a quantum computer that can perform more than the simplest operations. They are now getting closer than ever, with IBM in May announcing its most complex quantum system so far and Google saying it is on track this year to unveil a processor with so-called quantum supremacy capabilities no conventional computer can match.

Small systems exist, but the next steps in the race to make them bigger will have to determine whether quantum computers can deliver on their potential. Scientists and industry players have focused largely on one of two approaches. One cools loops of wire to near 273.15 degrees Celsius, or absolute zero, turning them into superconductors where current flows with virtually no resistance. The other relies on trapped ionscharged atoms of the rare earth element ytterbium held in place in a vacuum chamber by laser beams and manipulated by other lasers. The oscillating charges (in both the wires and the trapped ions) function as quantum bits, or qubits, which can be harnessed to carry out the computers operations.

Quantum leaps

The trick to either approach is figuring out how to get from already demonstrated systemscontaining just a few qubits to ones that can handle the hundreds or thousands required for the kind of heavy lifting that quantum technology seems to promise. Last year IBM made a five-qubit quantum processor available to developers, researchers and programmers for experimentation via its cloud portal. The company has made significant progress since then, revealing in May that it has upgraded its cloud-based quantum computer to a 16-qubit processorand created a more tightly engineered 17-qubit processor that could be the basis for commercial systems. Both are based on the wire-loop superconducting circuits, as is Googles 20-qubit processor, which the company announced at a conference in Munich, Germany, on June 22. Alan Ho, an engineer in Googles Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, told the conference his company expects to achieve quantum supremacy with a 49-qubit chip by the end of this year.

Those numbers may not seem impressive. But a qubit is much more powerful than the kind of bit that serves as the smallest unit of data in a conventional computer. Those bits are based on the flow of electrical current, and make up the digital language in which all computing functions: Off means 0 and on means 1, and those two states encode all of the computers operations. Qubits, however, are not based on yes/no electrical switchesbut rather on a particles quantum properties, such as the direction in which an electron spins. And in the quantum world a particle can simultaneously exist in a variety of states more complex than simply on/off a phenomenon known as superposition. You can have heads, you can have tails, but you can also have any weighted superposition. You can have 70-30 heads-tails, says Christopher Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland, College Park, and founder of IonQ, a start-up working on building a quantum computer with trapped ions.

The more-than-binary ability to occupy multiple states at once allows qubits to perform many calculations simultaneously, vastly magnifying their computing power. That power grows exponentially with the number of qubits. So at somewhere around 49 or 50 qubits, quantum computers reach the equivalent of about 10 quadrillion bits and become capable of calculations no classical computer could ever match, says John Preskill, a theoretical physicist at California Institute of Technology. Whether they will be doing useful things is a different question, he says.

Both superconducting circuits and trapped ions have a good shot at hitting that fiftyish-qubit threshold, says Jerry Chow, manager of experimental quantum computing at IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Conventional thinking would suggest that more qubits means more power but Chow notes its not just about the number of qubits. He is more focused on the number and quality of calculations the machine can perform, a metric he calls quantum volume. That includes additional factors such as how fast the qubits can perform the calculations and how well they avoid or correct for errors that can creep in. Some of those factors can work against one another; adding more qubits, for instance, can increase the rate of errors as information passes down the line from one qubit to another. As a community we should all be focusingno matter whether were working on superconducting qubits or trapped ions or whatever on pushing this quantum volume higher and higher so we can really make more and more powerful quantum processors and do things that we never thought of, Chow says.

Better, not bigger

Monroe recently compared his five-qubit trapped ion system with IBMs five-qubit processor by running the same simple algorithms on both, and found the performance comparable. The biggest difference, he says, is that the trapped ions are all connected to one another via electromagnetic forces: Wiggle one ion in a string of 30 and every other ion reacts, making it easy to quickly and accurately pass information among them. In the wire-loop superconductor circuit only some qubits are connected, which makes passing information a slower process that can introduce errors.

One advantage of superconducting circuits is that they are easy to build using the same processes that make computer chips. They perform a computers basic logic gate operations that is, adding, subtracting or otherwise manipulating the bits in billionths of a second. On the other hand, qubits in this type of system hold their quantum state for only milliseconds thousandths of a second so any operation must be completed in that time.

Trapped ions, by contrast, retain their quantum states for many seconds sometimes even minutes or hours. But the logic gates in such a system run about 1,000 times slower than in superconductor-based quantum computing. That speed reduction probably does not matter in simple operations with just a few qubits, Monroe says. But it could become a problem for getting an answer in a reasonable amount of time as the number of qubits increases. For superconducting qubits, rising numbers may mean a struggle to connect them together.

And increasing the number of qubits, no matter what technology they are used with, makes it harder to connect and manipulate them because that must be done while keeping them isolated from the rest of the world so they will maintain their quantum states. The more atoms or electrons are grouped together in large numbers, the more the rules of classical physics take over and the less significant the quantum properties of the individual atoms become to how the whole system behaves. When you make a quantum system big, it becomes less quantum, Monroe says.

Chow thinks quantum computers will become powerful enough to do at least something beyond the capability of classical computers possibly a simulation in quantum chemistry within about five years. Monroe says it is reasonable to expect systems containing a few thousand qubits in a decade or so. To some extent, Monroe says, researchers will not know what they will be able to do with such systems until they figure out how to build them.

Preskill, who is 64, says he thinks he will live long enough to see quantum computers have an impact on society in the way the internet and smartphones have although he cannot predict exactly what that impact will be. These quantum systems kind of speak a language that digital systems dont speak, he says. We know from history that we just dont have the imagination to anticipate where new information technologies can carry us.

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Quantum computers compete for supremacy – Salon

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Less is more for Canadian quantum computing researchers – ITworld

Posted: July 4, 2017 at 8:51 am

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Researchers in Canada have found a way make a key building block for quantum computing from a custom photonics chip and off-the-shelf components intended for use in telecommunications equipment.

They have built a chip that can create entangled pairs of multicolored photons. The result is that they can be manipulated as two “qudits,” quantum computing digits, that can each hold 10 possible values.

Where classical computers operate on values in sequence, quantum computers are able to express all possible values of a variable simultaneously, collapsing to the “right” answer at the end of the calculation. Not all computing problems benefit from this treatment, but it is particularly useful in the factorization of large numbers, necessary for cracking many forms of encryption.

The storage elements quantum computers are made from are inherently unstable, and must be linked in a process known as entanglement in order to work together. The more of them there are, the harder it is to keep them all entangled and functioning for long enough to perform a calculation.

The simplest quantum element is the two-dimensional qubit, a quantum bit, which can simultaneously hold two values (0 and 1). With six qubits, a quantum computer could hold any or all of 64 (2 to the power 6) possible values.

But that requires maintaining the quantum state of six elements.

In July 2016, Russian scientists suggested that, instead of building quantum computers with qubits, it would be easier to maintaina smaller number of qudits, each able to hold a greater range of values. They showed how to make a five-dimensional qudit, which would have greater computing power than a quantum computer with two qubits.

Now the Canadian researchers have demonstrated that their photonic chip can entangle two 10-dimensional qudits, storing a greater range of values than a six-qubit quantum computer, but requiring the stabilization of only two elements.

Using the same chip, they say, it should be possible to generate two entangled qudits able to hold 9,000 or more values — the equivalent of a 12-qubit computer.

By way of comparison, IBM hitched up a 16-qubit computer to its computing cloud back in May, inviting scientists to share time on it to test quantum computing algorithims.

Google, meanwhile, hopes to have an operational 49-qubit quantum computer by the end of the year.

It’s not enough merely to generate these qudits: To turn them into a quantum computer it must also be possible to manipulate them.

That can be accomplished using standard telecommunications components such as modulators and filters, according to the researchers, making the system relatively accessible.

Being able to generate multidimensional quantum computing systems in this way will open the door to faster and more robust quantum communication protocols, and more efficient and error-tolerant quantum computation, the researchers said in a paper detailing their research in the journal Nature in June.

Peter Sayer covers European public policy, artificial intelligence, the blockchain, and other technology breaking news for the IDG News Service.

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Less is more for Canadian quantum computing researchers – ITworld

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