Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"Google says it has now proven that D-Wave’s quantum computer really works" (GOOG)

We have quite a few posts on D-Wave, links below, and through most of them our attitude was a dubious "Show me".
It appears they may have.

From 9 to 5 Google:
Last month we reported on Google planning a “watershed” quantum computing announcement, which the company and NASA delivered jointly today. Google’s Quantum AI team announced the results of its latest test in understanding the physics governing quantum annealers, which shows that quantum annealing can outperform simulated annealing by more than 108 times – yes that’s 100,000,000x faster.

Google achieved these results by running problems involving “nearly 1000 binary variables” into the D-Wave 2X quantum annealer. The results could potentially end the longstanding debate about whether or not D-Wave’s technology is performing true quantum annealing instead of performing classical simulated annealing without using any quantum effect.

D-Wave is a quantum computing firm based in Canada. The company made important strides in the field and attracted an impressive list of investors including the CIA’s investment arm In-Q-Tel and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos....MORE
HT: MetaFilter who put together a mini-linkfest.

Our most recent post was back in January, "Venture Capital: "Quantum" Computing Co. D-Wave Raises $29 Mil From Goldman, Bezos, CIA" with the quantum in quote marks.

Prior to that, in September 2014's "Quantum Computing: 'Three Questions with the CEO of D-Wave'", I attempted some lame quantum mechanics jokes:

I'm still not sure if D-Wave has a quantum computer or not, some links to previous posts below. 

Also, the interviewer does not ask what the advantages of this approach are for fanciers of cat videos

Regarding the quantum, this is not Schrödinger's Cat

From MIT's Technology Review:
The CEO of quantum computing startup D-Wave says its machines are helping companies analyze Wall Street data and search for new cancer drugs.

Ever since D-Wave Systems unveiled what it called the world’s first quantum computer in 2007, the small Canadian company has attracted controversy.

Computers capable of exploiting quantum physics for computation on a large scale promise to solve in mere seconds problems that would take conventional machines millions of years. But whether D-Wave’s machine uses quantum tricks to process data more efficiently is still an open question. Nonetheless, the company has attracted significant investment funding, and it has struck deals to supply its hardware to companies including Google and Lockheed Martin for research (see “The CIA and Jeff Bezos Bet on Quantum Computing”).
D-Wave’s CEO, Vern Brownell, met recently with Tom Simonite, MIT Technology Review’s San Francisco bureau chief, and said the company now has customers using its computers to tackle real problems.

By now you have built a few generations of your quantum processors. Are they ready to be used to solve problems yet?
We have 12 machines running now. A few of them are online; we have customers who can access a machine over the Internet. It’s not a product or something that’s available to everyone, but we have customers doing real things with the computer today that have huge business impact. We have seen results that are better than classical systems. Customers have their application and integrate quantum computing into it and it performs better.

Over the next few years we will be offering more and more of that capability to the world. We see us eventually making quantum cloud services available to the world. But we don’t have a tool set yet that allows us to do that. It requires a lot of hand-holding with even the most sophisticated customers.

Can you give some examples of what those customers are using D-Wave’s machines for?
[A company called] 1Qbit was started to use our quantum computer for financial services. They have 20 PhDs developing algorithms in portfolio optimization and things like that. We provide them with some training and expertise, but they are by and large doing this work themselves. If they find the amazing algorithm that is going to make tons of money for Wall Street traders, it’s their intellectual property, not ours....MORE
HT: FT Alphaville's Further Reading post.

Sept. 2014
"The Man Who Will Build Google’s Elusive Quantum Computer" (GOOG)
April 2014
"Why Nobody Can Tell Whether the World’s Biggest Quantum Computer is a Quantum Computer"
May 2013
Google Launches the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab (GOOG)
March 2013
Does Lockheed Have a Quantum Computer or Doesn't It? (LK)
Nov. 2012
Quantum Computing: CIA and Bezos Invest in D-Wave Systems In.

If I had to do it all over again I'd probably go with this revision of an old joke:
Heisenberg and Schrödinger get pulled over for speeding.
The cop asks Heisenberg "Do you know how fast you were going?"
Heisenberg replies, "No, but we know exactly where we are!"
The officer looks at him confused and says "you were going 108 miles per hour!"
Heisenberg throws his arms up and cries, "Great! Now we're lost!"

The officer looks over the car and asks Schrödinger if the two men have anything in the trunk.
"A cat," Schrödinger replies.
The cop opens the trunk and yells "Hey! This cat is dead."
Schrödinger angrily replies, "Well he is now."