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Google and NASA Snap Up D-Wave Quantum Computer 108

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the at-least-we-think-they-did dept.
ananyo writes "D-Wave, the small company that sells the world's only commercial quantum computer, has just bagged an impressive new customer: a collaboration between Google, NASA and the non-profit Universities Space Research Association. The three organizations have joined forces to install a D-Wave Two, the computer company's latest model, in a facility launched by the collaboration — the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center. The lab will explore areas such as machine learning — useful for functions such as language translation, image searches and voice-command recognition. The Google-led collaboration is only the second customer to buy computer from D-Wave — Lockheed Martin was the first."
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Google and NASA Snap Up D-Wave Quantum Computer

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'd be curious what computer language they use to program this thing.
  • Or Not (Score:5, Funny)

    by A10Mechanic (1056868) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @07:51AM (#43739783)
    Or Not. I can't tell.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I for one welcome our new quantum computer overlords.

  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @07:56AM (#43739827)

    We can solve those traveling salesman problems that have been plaguing our society for hundreds of years!

    • Remember, Google is involved here. Finally we can data-mine all the intimate details of all users!

    • We can solve those traveling salesman problems that have been plaguing our society for hundreds of years!

      I realize you're joking, but they actually are important problems to solve. If you have 10,000 solder points, and you need your equipment to solder as fast as possible, what route do you take?

      • by pipedwho (1174327)

        We can solve those traveling salesman problems that have been plaguing our society for hundreds of years!

        I realize you're joking, but they actually are important problems to solve. If you have 10,000 solder points, and you need your equipment to solder as fast as possible, what route do you take?

        Solving this type of real world problem with a mathematically perfect solution usually isn't necessary. A far simpler and quicker statistical method that produces a solution that is only 99.99% of optimal is generally more than adequate. Same applies to other areas of manufacturing such as quality assurance, in other disciplines such as physical layer communications systems, and even in mathematics such as prime generation.

        It always comes down to how perfect the solution actually needs to be, and how easy i

        • We can solve those traveling salesman problems that have been plaguing our society for hundreds of years!

          I realize you're joking, but they actually are important problems to solve. If you have 10,000 solder points, and you need your equipment to solder as fast as possible, what route do you take?

          Solving this type of real world problem with a mathematically perfect solution usually isn't necessary. A far simpler and quicker statistical method that produces a solution that is only 99.99% of optimal is generally more than adequate. Same applies to other areas of manufacturing such as quality assurance, in other disciplines such as physical layer communications systems, and even in mathematics such as prime generation.

          It always comes down to how perfect the solution actually needs to be, and how easy it is to get close to or reach that perfect solution.

          In many cases, practicality does trump elegance. But in many other cases, it does not. For a mathematician, some problems -- like the TSP -- are interesting precisely because we don't know (P=NP?) if the only practical approach we have for solving them is inelegant brute force. Factorization of large integers is another one of those interesting problems (you alluded to it as "prime generation.") The existence of an elegant solution to the factorization problem would considerably alter how we conduct secu

  • Price? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @08:02AM (#43739867)

    The D-Wave 1 was approximately $10 million:

    https://dwave.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/siri/ [wordpress.com]

    From a recent Financial Post article profiling D-Wave:

            If computers could learn, grow and evolve the same way humans can, the world would be a much better place, Dr. Geordie Rose argues. The co-founder and chief technology officer of Burnaby, B.C.-based quantum computing firm D-Wave Systems Inc. contends that humanity would gain unprecedented access to education, health care and information if only his company’s technology were more widely adopted. Having sold its first quantum computing system to Lockheed Martin Corp. for approximately $10-million, the doctor of theoretical physics spoke to Financial Post technology reporter Jameson Berkow about his plan to change the world. The following is an edited transcription of their conversation.

  • by mblase (200735) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @08:07AM (#43739909)

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/hardware/loser-dwave-does-not-quantum-compute [ieee.org] ...but it does seem to exploit some of the benefits. Who knows, maybe these "hybrid" quantum machines are going to be more practical than "true" quantum computers.

  • Two articles deep:

    Instead it does something called ‘annealing’, where an answer is arrived at by looking for the lowest energy state of the bits in the computer chip ...

    The D-Wave Two computer, which has 512 quantum bits, is designed to tackle classification-type problems that are useful in machine learning and image recognition. Essentially it is good at determining the best ways to sort things into different categories, such as X-ray scans that contain an image of a bomb and ones that

  • "Quantum computer", "Google, NASA", "Artificial Intelligence", "Lab"

    Man, there's nothing in this story that doesn't sound awesome.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Except what they obviously intend to use it for - large scale decryption of SSL traffic so the data can be mined by Google (for profit) and the Government (to oppress).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kiwikwi (2734467)

        Except what they obviously intend to use it for - large scale decryption of SSL traffic so the data can be mined by Google (for profit) and the Government (to oppress).

        If that's their intent, they'll be sorely disappointed, since D-Wave's machine has only 512 qubits (where as all new SSL certificates are at least 1024 bits). More importantly, the machine is not a general purpose quantum computer and can't run Shor's algorithm.

        Besides, NSA is already able to break 1024 bit RSA using conventional computing (not to mention the possibility of much cheaper side channel attacks). See e.g. Schneier [schneier.com].

        If we are optimistic, it may be possible to factor a 1024-bit RSA modulus [before 2020] by means of an academic effort on [a] limited scale.

        - Kleinjung et al., 2010 [iacr.org], my emphasis

        The same paper gives an estimated difficulty

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've seen many people saying these guys are full of waste byproducts....and yet some mighty big players are buying these suckers. wtf?

    Did the quantum computing age begin and (almost) nobody noticed?

    • and yet some mighty big players are buying these suckers.

      Few people will spend $10M without doing their homework (outside of Congress). Then again, $10M to maintain a competitive advantage over the competition is within many organizations' budgets.

      Did the quantum computing age begin and (almost) nobody noticed?

      TIME Magazine never covered the beginning of anything. But as the Spectrum interview says, they've sold a partnership with these organizations, and that their chips aren't big enough yet to solve th

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        10 Mill is not a lot I know on large company that spent £1,000,000 redeveloping an existing system in Oracle because Oracle was corporate standard and because some one was playing politics going for promotion and needed to have run a project of that size to tick the boxes.
      • Will spending $10M on traditional computers be a better investment though. Can one of these computers perform better than a small datacentre?

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      It just recently started picking up steam - but it is doing so absurdly fast. [youtube.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. This is what happens when you have technology trade agreements with EBEs in exchange for human flesh (DNA).

      The military industrial complex gets this stuff and plays with it for 50 to 100 years. Then it gets put into mainstream markets through companies like this or simultaneous discoveries across the globe. Things like that.

    • This is definitely not a scam. This company built a device which uses quantum-mechanical effects to quickly solve simulated annealing problems. They get a huge speedup in solving quatum annealing problems — which is what the customers are paying for. The customers understand exactly what they are buying -- no shenanigans here.

      However, D-Wave's publicity is rather dishonest. They call their device a "quantum computer" and issue press releases with that term, despite the fact that their device is de

  • I can't wait until I play angry birds on there... with birds that are there and not there at the same time. woohoo

  • For those of you wondering this, I looked into it. Their current model is slightly slower than current traditional PCs and does absolutely nothing that they can't. So why exactly is anyone buying one of these?
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      This is why. [flickr.com]

    • So why exactly is anyone buying one of these?

      For Bitcoin mining. NASA needs to fund itself somehow.

    • by Molochi (555357)

      Found the system specs for the test PCs, I wouldn't call them High End PCs except in the sense that the price was high end. The Xeon X5550 system appears to even be underclocked 1GHz below it's normal speed of 2.66/3.06GHz.

      Still, it'd take a big cluster of them to equal the performance of the V6. That's worth it right there.

      http://www.cs.amherst.edu/ccm/cf14-mcgeoch.pdf [amherst.edu]

      "All software solver tests were carried out on a suite of
      seven Lenovo ThinkStation S30 0568 workstations, each containing
      one Intel Xeon E5-2

      • measuring one solver on one instance, running
        on one core at a time.

        Sounds like they compared their quantum computer with a single core of a Xeon E5-2609/2.4GHz, not all 4 in the test system.

  • Soo.... Now The NSA can get into our quantum computers too. YAY!

  • what happened to the Vesuvius? [wired.com]

  • Anyone interested in the D-wave story should be reading this article where Scott Aaronson explains the meaning of D-Wave's current results [scottaaronson.com].

    The takeaway points are:

    1. D-Wave's machine does demonstrate entanglement and quantum annealing
    2. There is no speed advantage whatsoever for quantum annealing over classical simulated annealing
    3. A correctly optimized version of classical annealing is actually faster than D-wave's solution
    4. D-Wave will only be able to make this machine work as a quantum computer (with the attendant speed gains) by implementing error-correction and other improvements that D-Wave have been loudly deriding for their entire history
    • According to this article [arstechnica.com], it actually is much faster than conventional computers... but only for problems that can be mapped to it well, and currently a lot of problems don't fall into that category.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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