Friday, March 22, 2013

Quantum Computing, Finally!! (or maybe not)

Today's New York Times has an article hailing the arrival of superfast practical quantum computers (weird thing pictured above), courtesy of Lockheed Martin who purchased one from a company called D-Wave Systems. As the article notes,
... a powerful new type of computer that is about to be commercially deployed by a major American military contractor is taking computing into the strange, subatomic realm of quantum mechanics. In that infinitesimal neighborhood, common sense logic no longer seems to apply. A one can be a one, or it can be a one and a zero and everything in between — all at the same time. ...  Lockheed Martin — which bought an early version of such a computer from the Canadian company D-Wave Systems two years ago — is confident enough in the technology to upgrade it to commercial scale, becoming the first company to use quantum computing as part of its business.
The article does mention that there are some skeptics. So beware.

Ten to fifteen years ago, I used to write frequently, mostly for New Scientist magazine, about research progress towards quantum computing. For anyone who hasn't read something about this, quantum computing would exploit the peculiar properties of quantum physics to do computation in a totally new way. It could potentially solve some problems very quickly that computers running on classical physics, as today's computers do, would never be able to solve. Without getting into any detail, the essential thing about quantum processes is their ability to explore many paths in parallel, rather than just doing one specific thing, which would give a quantum computer unprecedented processing power. Here's an article giving some basic information about the idea.

I stopped writing about quantum computing because I got bored with it, not the ideas, but the achingly slow progress in bringing the idea into reality. To make a really useful quantum computer you need to harness quantum degrees of freedom, "qubits," in single ions, photons, the spins of atoms, etc., and have the ability to carry out controlled logic operations on them. You would need lots of them, say hundreds and more, to do really valuable calculations, but to date no one has managed to create and control more than about 2 or 3. I wrote several articles a year noting major advances in quantum information storage, in error correction, in ways to transmit quantum information (which is more delicate than classical information) from one place to another and so on. Every article at some point had a weasel phrase like ".... this could be a major step towards practical quantum computing." They weren't. All of this was perfectly good, valuable physics work, but the practical computer receded into the future just as quickly as people made advances towards it. That seems to be true today.... except for one D-Wave Systems.

Around five years ago, this company started claiming that it was producing and achieving quantum computing and had built functioning devices with 128 qubits. It used superconducting technology. Everyone else in the field was aghast by such a claim, given this sudden staggering advance over what anyone else in the world had achieved. Oh, and D-Wave didn't release sufficient information for the claim to be judged. Here is the skeptical judgement of IEEE Spectrum magazine as of 2010. But more up to date, and not quite so negative, is this assessment by quantum information expert Scott Aaronson just over a year ago. The most important point he makes is about the failure of D-Wave to really demonstrate that its computer is really doing something essentially quantum, which is why it would be interesting. This would mean demonstrating so-called quantum entanglement in the machine, or really carrying out some calculation that was so vastly superior to anything achievable by classical computers that one would have to infer quantum performance. Aaronson asks the obvious question:
... rather than constantly adding more qubits and issuing more hard-to-evaluate announcements, while leaving the scientific characterization of its devices in a state of limbo, why doesn’t D-Wave just focus all its efforts on demonstrating entanglement, or otherwise getting stronger evidence for a quantum role in the apparent speedup?  When I put this question to Mohammad Amin, he said that, if D-Wave had followed my suggestion, it would have published some interesting research papers and then gone out of business—since the fundraising pressure is always for more qubits and more dramatic announcements, not for clearer understanding of its systems.  So, let me try to get a message out to the pointy-haired bosses of the world: a single qubit that you understand is better than a thousand qubits that you don’t.  There’s a reason why academic quantum computing groups focus on pushing down decoherence and demonstrating entanglement in 2, 3, or 4 qubits: because that way, at least you know that the qubits are qubits!  Once you’ve shown that the foundation is solid, then you try to scale up.   
So there's a finance and publicity angle here as well as the science. The NYT article doesn't really get into any of the specific claims of D-Wave, but I recommend Aaronson's comments as a good counterpoint to the hype.


  1. I am always amazed at how quantum science works. This article is yet another breakthrough on that subject.

  2. Excellent read, Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your | | | | | | | | | |


    Is Your Computer Sluggish or Plagued With a Virus? – If So you Need Online Tech Repairs
    As a leader in online computer repair, Online Tech Repairs Inc has the experience to deliver professional system optimization and virus removal.Headquartered in Great Neck, New York our certified technicians have been providing online computer repair and virus removal for customers around the world since 2004.
    Our three step system is easy to use; and provides you a safe, unobtrusive, and cost effective alternative to your computer service needs. By using state-of-the-art technology our computer experts can diagnose, and repair your computer system through the internet, no matter where you are.
    Our technician will guide you through the installation of Online Tech Repair Inc secure software. This software allows your dedicated computer expert to see and operate your computer just as if he was in the room with you. That means you don't have to unplug everything and bring it to our shop, or have a stranger tramping through your home.
    From our remote location the Online Tech expert can handle any computer issue you want addressed, like:
    • - System Optimization
    • - How it works Software Installations or Upgrades
    • - How it works Virus Removal
    • - How it works Home Network Set-ups
    Just to name a few.
    If you are unsure of what the problem may be, that is okay. We can run a complete diagnostic on your system and fix the problems we encounter. When we are done our software is removed; leaving you with a safe, secure and properly functioning system. The whole process usually takes less than an hour. You probably couldn't even get your computer to your local repair shop that fast!
    Call us now for a FREE COMPUTER DIAGONISTIC using DISCOUNT CODE ( on +1-914-613-3786 or chat with us on

  4. Problem: HP Printer not connecting to my laptop.
    I had an issue while connecting my 2 year old HP printer to my brother's laptop that I had borrowed for starting my own business. I used a quick google search to fix the problem but that did not help me.
    I then decided to get professional help to solve my problem. After having received many quotations from various companies, i decided to go ahead with Online Tech Repair (
    Reasons I chose them over the others:
    1) They were extremely friendly and patient with me during my initial discussions and responded promptly to my request.
    2) Their prices were extremely reasonable.
    3) They were ready and willing to walk me through the entire process step by step and were on call with me till i got it fixed.
    How did they do it
    1) They first asked me to state my problem clearly and asked me a few questions. This was done to detect any physical connectivity issues with the printer.
    2) After having answered this, they confirmed that the printer and the laptop were functioning correctly.
    3) They then, asked me if they could access my laptop remotely to troubleshoot the problem and fix it. I agreed.
    4) One of the tech support executives accessed my laptop and started troubleshooting.
    5) I sat back and watched as the tech support executive was navigating my laptop to spot the issue. The issue was fixed.
    6) I was told that it was due to an older version of the driver that had been installed.
    My Experience
    I loved the entire friendly conversation that took place with them. They understood my needs clearly and acted upon the solution immediately. Being a technical noob, i sometimes find it difficult to communicate with tech support teams. It was a very
    different experience with the guys at Online Tech Repairs. You can check out their website or call them on 1-914-613-3786.
    Would definitely recommend this service to anyone who needs help fixing their computers.
    Thanks a ton guys. Great Job....!!

  5. Great job for publishing such a beneficial web site. Your web log isn’t only useful but it is additionally really creative too. There tend to be not many people who can certainly write not so simple posts that artistically. Continue the nice writing
    Kredit for Beauty OP

  6. Awesome review, I'm certain you're getting an extraordinary reaction.

  7. I am surely coming again for more contents of yours. wordpress themes

  8. That seems to be true today except for one D-Wave Systems. The Online Typing Services are best for the students because it give you a way to get your typing done when you don’t have time to do it yourself, but when you pick the wrong one it can be costly.


  9. شركة نقل عفش
    اهم شركات مكافحة حشرات بالخبر كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذلك شركة رش حشرات بالدمام ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة الجوهرة من افضل شركات تنظيف الخزانات بجدة حيث ان تنظيف خزانات بجدة يحتاج الى مهارة فى كيفية غسيل وتنظيف الخزانات الكبيرة والصغيرة بجدة على ايدى متخصصين فى تنظيف الخزانات بجدة
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش واثاث


  10. شركة نقل عفش بالرياض وجدة والدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
    شركة نقل عفش بجدة
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام