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Thursday, April 08, 2021

On the State of Quantum

 This also talks about D-Wave, which we touched with in our early examinations.  We are getting to closer to having the ability to solve complex problems very fast, and to have to worry about Quantum making some of our security less successful.

The State of Quantum Computing   By Logan Kugler, Commissioned by CACM Staff, April 8, 2021

In December 2020, a Chinese research team claimed to have successfully achieved "quantum advantage" by using quantum computing methods to perform computations that classical supercomputers can't.

Using photons, the team carried out a calculation called a boson-sampling problem. The calculation has so many variables that existing supercomputers "would take half the age of Earth" to calculate the problem, according to Nature. The Chinese team used quantum computing to achieve the calculation in a few minutes.

"[This] is certainly an impressive academic achievement, showing that quantum machinery can in some cases strain the abilities of conventional computers," said Chris Monroe, co-founder and chief scientist of IonQ, a quantum computer maker developing what it describes as a general-purpose trapped ion quantum computer and software to generate, optimize, and execute quantum circuits. "But it's important to consider that the problem they solved is a narrow application space with no known practical use, and it will be difficult to tune their experiment for any other type of problem."

Several leading companies are working to avoid that problem by developing practical quantum machines and deploying them for real commercial applications.

D-Wave Systems is one such company at the forefront of recent quantum computing developments. British Columbia, Canada-based D-Wave makes quantum machines specifically for businesses. Last year, the company announced the general availability of Advantage, its 5,000-qubit quantum system, accompanied by its quantum cloud service, Leap. The company's machines take a unique approach to quantum computing called "quantum annealing," which uses the physics of quantum phase transitions to perform computations. The company bet big on annealing early on, a bet that it says has paid off.

Murray Thom, D-Wave's vice president of software and cloud services, said, "We believed—and still believe—that annealing is the fastest path to our number-one objective: fueling customer value through practical quantum applications." The company says over 250 quantum-powered applications built with its system are now in production from Fortune 500 companies like Volkswagen, DENSO, and Accenture.  .. ...

........ "Quantum computing technology is accelerating rapidly, with new advancements and new companies getting involved nearly daily," says IonQ CEO and President Peter Chapman. "When I joined IonQ in 2019, people said that quantum would never work. We don't hear much from those people anymore."

Logan Kugler is a freelance technology writer based in Tampa, FL, USA. He has written for over 60 major publications.

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