Monday, December 14, 2015

"Quantum Computers Entice Wall Street Vowing Higher Returns"

From Bloomberg, Dec. 8:
  • Goldman Sachs, RBS, CME, Guggenheim exploring the technology
  • $10 million computers may help in complex asset allocation
You may soon be able to see every conceivable outcome of a wager, say on interest rates, over many time horizons -- thanks to computers that rely on the uncertainty at the root of all matter.
Wall Street is turning its attention to quantum computers, an emerging technology that aims to exploit the properties of subatomic particles to make extremely complex calculations at unprecedented speeds. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, CME Group Inc. and Guggenheim Partners are evaluating quantum computing, which requires temperatures colder than in outer space.

The technology is exceptionally complicated, and researchers are debating whether machines now on the market are as powerful as advertised. If successful, these supercomputers could give money managers and banks, whose algorithmic-driven technology already dominate trading, another advantage in a highly competitive market. They can help managers better allocate money to a broad range of assets, find new ways to profit from differences in prices across markets, and value complex derivatives structures, said Marcos Lopez de Prado, a senior managing director at Guggenheim Partners.

“The quantum computer is very good at a few things that happen to be very, very hard for traditional computers,” said Lopez de Prado, also a research fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “It can solve complex problems in exponentially less time.”

The cost: at least $10 million per computer, he said.

Financial firms are following a handful of companies and governments, including China, France and the U.K., into the world of quantum computing. Lockheed Martin Corp., one of the first adopters, has deployed it to spot bugs in the code that runs F-16 aircraft. Microsoft Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. are developing quantum technologies to speed up software. China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in July announced plans to form a quantum computing laboratory with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to carry out exploratory work.

Google’s Algorithms
Google Inc. is designing learning algorithms that work on a quantum computer and is collaborating in its research with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which has one of the machines. It has demonstrated the ability to crunch through very complex problems in a matter of seconds that would take traditional computers 10,000 years, Hartmut Neven, a director of engineering at Google, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"We have encountered practical problems we would like to solve that are unfeasible with conventional computers," said John Giannandrea, Google’s vice president of engineering. "We want to understand the future that may lie ahead of us in non-conventional  computers."
The quantum computers that can be bought today are made by D-Wave Systems Inc., a 16-year-old Canadian company. D-Wave has raised C$174 million ($130 million) from backers, including Goldman Sachs, which has invested its own money in the company.
At Goldman Sachs, engineers are considering using the technology, as is CME Group, the largest futures exchange, according to people who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Michael DuVally, a spokesman for Goldman, declined to comment. Alex Gorbokon, a spokeswoman for CME, said the exchange is “always looking at new technologies.”

Better Returns
Researchers including Guggenheim’s Lopez de Prado and Peter Carr, a Morgan Stanley managing director, said in a paper in August that they demonstrated the potential of quantum computing to help asset managers solve a difficult problem: wagering on a set of assets over a time horizon that’s divided into multiple steps. The manager must decide how much to invest in each asset at each step, while taking into account transaction and market-impact costs.

Managers today make their calls after traditional computers are fed historical data and forecasts for everything from interest rates and unemployment to stock and currency prices. Conventional technology is able to evaluate millions of possible investment scenarios to guide managers.
“That’s a drop in the ocean,” said Lopez de Prado. “Quantum technology can evaluate all possible scenarios in order to produce an optimized portfolio that can deliver the best risk-adjusted return.”...MORE
We have quite a few posts on this approach:

So You Think Your Computer Is Fast? Update on Google, D-Wave and the Quantum Computer
"Google says it has now proven that D-Wave’s quantum computer really works" (GOOG)
How Google Aims To Dominate Artificial Intelligence
"Why Is Machine Learning (CS 229) The Most Popular Course At Stanford?"
'Deep Learning' as Applied to Investing
Deep Learning is VC Worthy
Zuckerberg, Musk Invest in Machine Learning Artificial-Intelligence Company, Vicarious
Google's Plan To Make Your Brain Irrelevant (GOOG; EVIL;)
MIT's Technology Review: "10 technologies we think most likely to change the world"
"As Machines Get Smarter, Evidence They Learn Like Us"
Researcher Dreams Up Machines That Learn Without Humans
Google Launches the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab (GOOG)
Baidu Artificial Intelligence Beats Google, Microsoft In Image Recognition
"Inside Google’s Massive Effort in Deep Learning" (GOOG)
Artificial Intelligence Company Sentient Raises Another $103 Million, Emerges From Stealth 
Deep Learning: "A Common Logic to Seeing Cats and Cosmos"
Federal Reserve Board FEDS Notes: "Using big data in finance: Example of sentiment-extraction from news articles"
DeepMind: Google's Artificial Intelligence Guy (GOOG)

And more, use the search blog box if interested.