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Currently Quantum Computers Might Be Where Rockets Were At the Time of Goddard 112

schwit1 writes: If quantum computing is at the Goddard level that would be a good thing for quantum computing. This means that the major fundamental breakthrough that would put them over the top was in hand and merely a lot of investment, engineering and scaling was needed. The goal of being able to solve NP-hard or NP-Complete problems with quantum computers is similar to being able to travel to the moon, mars or deeper into space with rockets. Conventional flight could not achieve those goals because of the lack of atmosphere in space. Current computing seems like they are very limited in being able to tackle NP-hard and NP Complete problems. Although clever work in advanced mathematics and approximations can give answers that are close on a case by case basis.
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Currently Quantum Computers Might Be Where Rockets Were At the Time of Goddard

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 28, 2015 @08:18AM (#50196079)
    Give something a fancy name and by-God it has to be a world-changing technology, right? I just don't see it. The hardware is difficult to build / maintain, doesn't scale, and so far nobody is quite sure what to even do with it.

    It's just a way to suck money out of venture capitalists and keep people busy in ivory towers. There's a reason that so many companies have the word 'quantum' in their name. It's all marketing hype.
    • I for one can't wait to play video games on my new Quantum computer.

      Bring it on, the graphics will be awesome!

    • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2015 @09:30AM (#50196373)

      Give something a fancy name and by-God it has to be a world-changing technology, right? I just don't see it.

      So because you can't understand it, it must not be of any consequence? I think that says more about you than it does about the technology.

      The hardware is difficult to build / maintain, doesn't scale, and so far nobody is quite sure what to even do with it.

      That sounds like pretty much every new technology ever. The first computers were difficult to build and maintain, didn't scale well and people weren't entirely sure what to do with them outside of a few narrow use cases. The first airplanes were difficult to build and maintain, didn't scale well, and... etc. We figured it out eventually. Probably will with quantum computing too in due time.

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        So because you can't understand it, it must not be of any consequence?

        If you're spouting such straw man platitudes, then you don't know enough about quantum computers to condemn someone else. In the defense of the previous poster, I'll note that there are a number of phenomena that permeate all of the Solar System (gravity, neutrinos, and thermal radiation) that may place an upper bound on the reliability of quantum computing no matter how magical your technology is.

        • If you're spouting such straw man platitudes, then you don't know enough about quantum computers to condemn someone else.

          You might have a point if his argument was something more nuanced than "it's hard and I don't understand how it will ever work" with a few marketing = boogeyman slams thrown in for good measure. Maybe quantum computers will be a thing and maybe they won't but he sure as hell doesn't know. If you want to claim quantum computers will never work then present some compelling technical evidence to support that position. Otherwise shut up and let the researchers do their job.

          In the defense of the previous poster, I'll note that there are a number of phenomena that permeate all of the Solar System (gravity, neutrinos, and thermal radiation) that may place an upper bound on the reliability of quantum computing no matter how magical your technology is.

          "May place an upper bound"? Sounds

          • by Anonymous Coward

            The burden of proof is on you to explain how it DOES work.

            I have read countless papers as well as summaries on the subject, and despite not being qualified to BUILD a quantum computer I can quite confidently state that 99% of the claims made about them are utter BS.

            The only thing true in this article is that we are over a decade from POSSIBLY seeing any decent results from this.

            There are many great proof-of-concept PARTS of a quantum computer system, but the number of qubits that are currently attainable is

            • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
              All the GP was saying was that quantum computers are still a worthy investment for humanity at large until proven otherwise. The burden of proof is on YOU, not him. From the sounds of it, you think quantum computers are impossible, prove it, show us some logic that proves the Universe places a limit on them such that they are mostly useless.
            • The burden of proof is on you to explain how it DOES work.

              No it isn't. I'm not trying to prove or disprove them and never claimed otherwise. If you want to claim that they cannot work then you need to provide a testable theorem to back that up. If you want to claim that they can work same thing applies. If you are merely trying to refute claims that someone has developed a quantum computer when they haven't then you merely need to clarify your position.

              Here is what I think we know right now. Some scientists apparently have created functional quantum computers

          • by khallow ( 566160 )

            You might have a point if his argument was something more nuanced than "it's hard and I don't understand how it will ever work" with a few marketing = boogeyman slams thrown in for good measure.

            It was. You mischaracterize the post in question.

    • I mean, it probably *will* be world-changing technology, but "Goddard stage" is not a useful term. There are experiments, proof-of-concept products, prototypes, and production products. Quantum Computing doesn't have anything approaching a "quantum chip" where it's just a question of manufacturing details. It's just barely beyond proof-of-concept stage. There's nothing approaching a prototype of a quantum processor that can do useful work. IBM claims they have a design for a scalable processor, but you

    • You're aware that's how it works, right?

      When trains were a big deal, everything was "express." It's the whole reason we even use "express" to mean what it does today. When we first harnessed the atom, everything had to have something to do with radioactive junk, until such time as we figured out that was a bad idea. There's a reason the Fallout series is full of that stuff: the period it is supposed to be imitating did the same thing. In the jet age, we had the same deal as with trains, and that's also wh
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So what you're saying is we need Nazis.

  • This is Slashdot. As we all know Slashdot explanations must adhere to car comparisons. If you cant get it together and start comparing quantum computing to an old ford then I dont know what I come here for.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Quantum computing is like having an old Ford that's broken down, and you would like to fix it. With classical computing, you spend time troubleshooting, eventually identify the problem, order parts, install them, road test it, and you eventually have a working classic Ford again.

      With quantum computing, you have an old Ford that's broken down but not broken down at the same time. You simply ignore the broken down state and choose to use the working one. Problem solved.
    • With classical computing, you're in a car and stuck behind that tractor with harvesting/whatever equipment or carrying hay stacks, taking almost all the width of the road.

      With quantum computing, there's a probably the tractor will vanish or get teleported in the nearby field, which will clear the way out and allow you to escape (car can pass the second gear). There is a 1:(((10^128)^128)^128)^128) probability for that to happen, though.

  • Or not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2015 @08:35AM (#50196149)

    Because rockets were actually working at that point, maybe not refined, but still useful. Quantum computer is not useful in any way at this time.

    Quantum computing is still at the mumbo jumbo stage where they make really bold claims about what it can do in 1 or 2 really specific instances that all of 8 people on the planet care about, but then never follow through with a quantum machine that out performs a classical one in any way.

    Oh, and the answer(s) may not even be right and has to be checked using classical methods anyway.

    • Oh, and the answer(s) may not even be right and has to be checked using classical methods anyway.

      One of the primary characteristics of NP problems is that solutions are hard to find but easy to verify. It will take longer than the lifetime of the universe to find the best solution to a thousand city travelling salesman problem. But it takes less than a millisecond to verify that it is better than the previous best known path.

      • Oh, and the answer(s) may not even be right and has to be checked using classical methods anyway.

        One of the primary characteristics of NP problems is that solutions are hard to find but easy to verify. It will take longer than the lifetime of the universe to find the best solution to a thousand city travelling salesman problem. But it takes less than a millisecond to verify that it is better than the previous best known path.

        Solution: Keep N=1 and nobody gets hurt! Done! ARE YOU LISTENING TO THIS NOBEL COMMITTEE??? You can just send me the big check now please.

      • Clarificaation: the traveling salesman, as usually stated, is not in NP. Unless it can be solved in polynomial time, it's not possible to verify that we've got the cheapest path in polynomial time. It's equivalent to determining if we can find a path that costs no more than X, which can easily be verified and therefore is in NP, and if we can solve one version in polynomial time we can solve the other one.

    • Not only were rockets working, they had been in practical use for centuries.

      Maybe this would be correct if we said “outer space rockets” specifically. The principles were pretty well understood, but we couldn't yet build one.

  • by rjh ( 40933 ) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Tuesday July 28, 2015 @08:35AM (#50196151)

    Quantum computers cannot solve NP-Hard or NP-Complete problems -- at least, no faster than a classical computer. This is one of the most basic results in the field, and the author keeps on making hash of it. This article should not be taken seriously if it's rife with such basic errors.

    • by csrster ( 861411 )
      Odd indeed, as this is stated quite explicitly at the bottom of the first slide-image he reproduces (which, incidentally, _assumes_ P != NP).
      • (which, incidentally, _assumes_ P != NP).

        That is actually a pretty good assumption, which millions of people implicitly make every day, by say, using cryptography that is only secure if P!=NP.

        • I'd say cryptography is still secure if the time complexity is something like n^80.

          • I'd say cryptography is still secure if the time complexity is something like n^80.

            You are underestimating exponential complexity. If you are using 1024 bit encryption, then 1024^80 is way, way, way, way smaller than 2^1024. The difference is more than that between the a single planck time and the age of the Universe.

            • Dude, I know how to math. 1024^80 is still much larger than the age of the universe in Planck times.

            • However, 4^80 == 2^160, which is far too big to brute-force. 2^80 itself is too big to brute-force currently, but I don't really know the bounds of what might be brute-forceable under what assumptions (like limiting the attack to the resources of the Solar System from now to the heat death of the Universe).

        • by csrster ( 861411 )
          You mean the fact that my granny uses netbanking is evidence that P!=NP ?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, and then the article goes right on as if quantum computers could solve NP-complete problems in polynomial time.

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      I was about to post exactly that. In fact we have a small handful of algorithms where QC *may* be faster in practice, but none of these problems have been shown to be NP-hard/complete. And well i just don't see it really. Factorization takes a huge number of operations on the n-qbit register to factor a nbit number. Nosie etc is not a mear engineering problem. Its a fundamental problem. And even then such a computer can't help at all for a n+1 bit number.
      • That's because Goddard's rockets still moved at sub-light speeds. Once QC reaches the warp drive threshold, we'll be able to solve NP complete problems quickly.

        Jeez, what a stupid analogy.

    • To be fair, no one apart from a few vested interests are claiming that quantum computers are some sort of magical panacea. But just like modern graphics GPUs, they could be built into ordinary computers and used when the problem domain suits their capabilities.

    • It is not an article, it is advertisement. There is absolutely no news content, just some stuff to make people discuss around it as if something new has happened.
      • Article? Article! We do not read TFA!!

        This!

        Is!

        Slashdooooot!!

        *kicks AchilleTalon in the chest*

      • ...but a research paper. And a BADLY written one at that. One that, if submitted by one of my freshmen students, I'd probably assign a D+ if I was feeling generous.

        Even after parsing the confusing sentence structure in the first couple paragraphs, I gave up before figuring out exactly how the figures (which look like snapshots of some PowerPoint lecture or presentation? What's the source??) tie in with their overall thesis - which seems to be some poorly formed analogy between the history of flight and qu
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Quantum computers cannot solve NP-Hard or NP-Complete problems -- at least, no faster than a classical computer. This is one of the most basic results in the field, and the author keeps on making hash of it.

      No, in fact the basic result in the field is that it isn't known if quantum computers can solve NP-Hard or NP-Complete problems more efficiently than a classical computer.

      From a accessible article (http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/The_Limits_of_Quantum_Computers.pdf):

      "The question thus remains unanswered: Is there an efficient quantum algorithm to solve NP-complete problems? Despite much trying, no such algorithm has been found—though not surprisingly, computer scientists cannot prove that it does

    • No, it has not yet been proven that quantum computers cannot efficiently solve NP-complete problems (i.e., that BQP does not contain NP). That would be a major breakthrough. It's strongly suspected that BQP does not contain NP, but so far we seem to lack the mathematical tools that would be required to prove such a thing.
      • by delt0r ( 999393 )
        Yet there are no problems in NP-hard/complete that a QC can solve in P time. So to claim they can solve NP-$WHATEVER in P time is just plain wrong.
      • by rjh ( 40933 )

        I didn't say it was proven. I said it was a result. We don't have a formal proof that P != NP, but find me a single practitioner who thinks we'll find a proof of P = NP.

        At some level math works on the basis of consensus. Consensus determines whether we accept a proof or reject it for omitting an important step; consensus determines which axioms we accept to be true. And so far, the consensus seems to be "BQP != NP, just like P != NP."

        But yes, we're going to keep looking for the proofs. :)

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I've noticed that the hacks are now trying to avoid Betterage when writing headlines too. This one could so easily have been phrased as a question. It's like they are clever enough to know that they are being mocked but not clever enough to actually avoid the thing they are being mocked for (ignorance).

    • Is this proven? Or is it one of those things that are assumed to be true (with good reason). I thought all of the time complexity classes are still essentially open questions.

      • by rjh ( 40933 )

        Depends on what you mean by proven. It's believed about as strongly as people believe P != NP. There's zero evidence BQP can address NP-Complete (or, for that matter, even interesting parts of NP), and a lot of good reasons to believe it can't. However, a proof has been as elusive as the P != NP proof -- another thing which pretty much every CS nerd agrees to be true, but it hasn't been rigorously proven yet.

  • Goddard was the father of modern rocketry (perhaps 5000 years of Chinese fireworks aside ;-), so really any fundamentally new technology is at it's "Goddard level". But it is amazing to think about what Robert Goddard was doing compared to a truly modern launch system, and apply that to what researchers are doing with quantum computing. Where will that be in 80 years? I wish I could be alive to see it.

  • If the person who wrote the article understood the first slide they included, it even shows that the class polynomial time quantum algorithms (BQP) probably don't include NP-complete problems and it says something to that affect. Wiki is better:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_computing#Relation_to_computational_complexity_theory

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Stripping off the D-Wave Quantum nonsense:

    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-independent-group-d-wave-quantum-speedup.html

    "(Phys.org) —An independent research team with members affiliated with several universities in the U.S. and Switzerland has concluded that the D-Wave Two computer shows no signs of quantum speedup"

    -----

    It does a calculation known as 'constrained minimization'. so for a function f(x1,x2,x3....) where x1 has limits on acceptable values (constraints), x2 has limits, x2,...and so on, calcula

  • Currently EM Propulsion [slashdot.org] is also in early development like Quantum Computers, so EM Drives Might Be Where Rockets Were At the Time of Goddard, but we currently use rockets instead of EM drives, so... umm... the Time of Goddard is now?

  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2015 @08:52AM (#50196225)

    "Currently Quantum Computers Might Be Where Rockets Were At the Time of Goddard"

    Designed on totally incorrect physics?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    The true revolutionaries of rocket propulsion all have German last names.

    • I think that comparing "being able to solve NP-hard or NP-Complete problems" to "travel to the moon, mars or deeper into space with rockets" is a much worse offender, since the latter clearly doesn't violate the laws of physics whereas the former probably might.
    • Eh, Goddard quickly learned that didn't work and went on to make this:

      http://i.space.com/images/i/00... [space.com]

      Where Goddard failed apparently was in his paranoid insistence on secrecy.

    • Well, that's an ignorant comment of yours. The mods need to do a little checking before modding up.
      Here (http://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/multimedia/detail.cfm?id=2888) is a picture from the mid-30's of Goddard with one of his rockets which was equivalent or better than the Germans' at the time.
      Here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_H._Goddard) is a statement by von Braun himself about Goddard's work:
      "Nevertheless, in 1963, von Braun, reflecting on the history of rocketry, said of Goddard: "

    • by Jookey ( 604878 )
      German names? Like Tsiolkovsky?
  • I know quantum stuff is hard to pin down, but not knowing where Qumputing is by a century-wide error band is pretty bad.

    / streeeeeeeeetch

  • OP writes: "The goal of being able to solve NP-hard or NP-Complete problems with quantum computers is similar to being able to travel to the moon, mars or deeper into space with rockets."

    Not even close. There was never any reason to believe that traveling to the moon was fundamentally impossible. That was an engineering problem, and no known nor suspected laws of physics prohibited it.

    Solving NP-complete problems efficiently (polynomial time) with quantum computers may is a mathematical problem, however --

  • Rocketry developed rapidly during WW2, after which everyone "borrowed" the German developments - and their scientists. If there is a parallel with quantum computing, it would seem likely that no real progress will be made until some sort of conflict (either in the real world or cyberspace) breaks out and some dramatic development takes place. After which the losers will "give" their technological developments to the winners. The winners will then play around with it, make it just about usable (if still incr
  • Micron Automata can solve NP-hard programs very quickly, and it's not quantum computer.

    It abandons the Von Neumann model we have been using or last 60 years and can achieve very high parallelism.
    And it requires a very different style of programming.

    But it's not quantum computer. And it's actually working, running in Micron's labs and very soon coming to market.

    Quantum computers are hype that's not really working, Micron automata is the real thing achieving mostly the same benefits.

  • I thought this "article" contained little more than wishful thinking, and voted it down, but it still got through anyways.
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2015 @09:43AM (#50196417)

    Big breakthrough just around the corner!

  • Do not waste your time reading this. The moron who wrote that "article" is full of shit. Quantum computers can only efficiently solve (i.e. <= polynomial time) a specific class of problems called BQP [wikipedia.org]. NP-hard and NP-complete problems would remain totally unfazed by quantum machines.
  • Currently Quantum Computers Might Be Where Rockets Were At the Time of Goddard

    So the New York Times thinks it's a bunch of bunk [nytimes.com], then...

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2015 @10:43AM (#50196765)

    Quantum computing is about where teleportation, strong AI, a perfect cure for cancer, etc. is, namely it is completely unclear whether it will ever work. All this bullshit about Quantum Computing is just that: Bullshit. We do not even know whether the physics allows it, all we know is that the current theory (which we know is incomplete and inaccurate) would allow it if it was accurate.

  • The goal of being able to solve NP-hard or NP-Complete problems with quantum computers is similar to being able to travel to the moon, mars or deeper into space with rockets.

    I thought it just functionally added massive parallelism, and didn't really solve this, by offloading the calculations into the quantum path space.

  • Currently Quantum Computers Might Be Where Rockets Were At the Time of Goddard

    I'm not sure stacking computers on make-shift launch pads in the middle of the desert would be helpful. Or did I misread that?

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