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NSA and Army On Quest For Quantum Physics Jackpot

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the you-can-win-but-only-if-you-don't-know-the-prize dept.

The Military 110

coondoggie sends this excerpt from NetworkWorld: "The US Army Research Office and the National Security Agency (NSA) are together looking for some answers to their quantum physics questions. ... The Army said quantum algorithms that are developed should focus on constructive solutions [PDF] for specific tasks, and on general methodologies for expressing and analyzing algorithms tailored to specific problems — though they didn't say what those specific tasks were ... 'Investigators should presuppose the existence of a fully functional quantum computer and consider what algorithmic tasks are particularly well suited to such a machine. A necessary component of this research will be to compare the efficiency of the quantum algorithm to the best existing classical algorithm for the same problem.'"

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Fundamentally, Einstein was right (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25550973)

But on the zeropathy of quantum bit-shuffling, there are gaps in his theory of dual wave predictability. Italians stole his vowels before he could answer the hypotenusal smick.

Looking to calculate everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551001)

They want you to write the code for their new computer. I for one welcome our newly dominate government overlords

This just in... (5, Insightful)

sfazzio (1227616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551009)

NSA and Army wants quantum computations researchers to do exactly what they have been doing for the last 15 years.

Re:This just in... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551027)

If you've got the money, honey, I've got the time....

It's an old song.

Re:This just in... (1)

Ray (88211) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553831)

Long live Willie!

Re:This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25564097)

Yes, but the US doesn't have the money honey. It's China's money... honey.

Re:This just in... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551477)

Like wasting the taxpayer's money on crap, you mean? The NSA should do its homework and realize that QC is crackpottery [blogspot.com] . Unless, of course, they want to fool the other spy agencies into thinking that they've got a working QC machine. hahaha... Yeah, sure. They believe you. hahaha...

Re:This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25556099)

You can safely ignore the blog since it doesn't even have the fundamentals correct.

The entire quantum computing field is based on the conjecture that certain quantum properties can have multiple states simultaneously, even though the property in question only has room for one.

Actually, it can have multiple states simultaneously but only one state can be determined as any given sample. That's the entire point of Schroder's cat experiment. The cat is both alive and dead until someone checks - at which time the state (dead of alive) of the animal is then determined. In other words, both states are held until someone checks.

Re:This just in... (1)

sfazzio (1227616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25556521)

As dumb as that blog entry is, it is correct in saying that the Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment was used to show that quantum mechanics predicts a result that Schrodinger believed to be impossible. Currently, many people who study quantum mechanics (myself included) believe that not only is the cat in a superposition of both states before observation, but it remains in a superposition even after observation (although the scientist splits into a superposition of having seen a dead cat and having seen a live cat).

Re:This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25557397)

You're an ass kissing idiot, sfazzio. The biggest impediment to progress in science is the hordes of gutless ass kissers whose only goal in life is searching for the next ass to kiss. hahahaha...

Re:This just in... (1)

sfazzio (1227616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25559981)

I usually try to not feed the trolls, but your comment just confuses me. Whose ass am I kissing? I called the blog dumb, I disagreed with another critique of the blog, I'm currently disagreeing with you. The only people I mention agreeing with are a group of QC researchers who happen to believe in Everettian quantum mechanics. Sorry that I can't disagree with everyone.

Re:This just in... (1)

Demiah (79313) | more than 5 years ago | (#25562763)

Erm... I'm interested in what you're trying to say, but I don't really understand too well.

Could you explain?

If I get you right, we're all in a superposition already and nothing ever resolves itself, which would be patently untrue, wouldn't it?

Re:This just in... (1)

sfazzio (1227616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563491)

I should first mention that, although my view is the dominant (although not the only) view among quantum computation and quantum information theorists, it is still very controversial among other quantum physicists.

I'm really just talking about the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation [wikipedia.org]
It basically disagrees with the idea of the collapse of the wavefunction. After all, why should an atom behave differently when a person is looking at it? I can't really do MWI justice in a forum post (i highly suggest reading the wikipedia page). I should also note that, although i agree with the MW interpretation, i don't agree with the sci-fi interpretation of the MW interpretation, and i definitely don't agree with the pop-culture interpretation of the sci-fi interpretation of the MW interpretation!

Why Are Quantum Interactions Probalistic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25564481)

Why is subatomic decay probalistic? If you don't know the answer to these questions, then every interpretation (e.g., MWI, state superposition, etc.) that you or other physicists may have is suspect at best and mere superstition at worst. IOW, quantum computing is based on wishful thinking and ignorance. It is not science. It's voodoo Star-Trek physics, religious hocus pocus masquerading as science.

Re:This just in... (1)

sfazzio (1227616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25556167)

That blog entry made me giggle. I agree that DWave is most likely BS (most people in QC also agree). But the quantum weirdness that the blog doesn't believe in has been proven to exist (the author may just be behind in his reading; John Bell only proved it in 1966). Also, proof of concept experiments for both Shor's algorithm as well as Grover's algorithm have been done.

Nobody Understands QC. You Want to Know Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25559933)

Because it's crap, that's why. hahaha...

Re:Nobody Understands QC. You Want to Know Why? (1)

sfazzio (1227616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564193)

You fascinate me. Do you end all of your messages with "hahaha..." because you are laughing at your own jokes, because you want other people to know that you're being funny, or out of some sort of bizarre ritual? How old are you? I'm really not trying to offend, but I really just want to know why someone would chose to spend their time writing such inane comments on slashdot.

Re:This just in... (1)

kosty (52388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553319)

"should focus on CONSTRUCTIVE solutions" -- They're goin' for irony points on that one, right? I mean, "constructive" solutions are Bechtel's and Kellog Brown & Root's job -- after the army has employed the *destructive* solutions. Wouldn't want to starve the contractor$ now, would we. /sarcasm

What's the point.. (1, Interesting)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551043)

That's probably what they're trying to figure out with this.

Why should we fund this? I mean look at the depression we're all in, they're obviously trying to make budget cuts and aren't sure if they should drop quantum computing.

Re:What's the point.. (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551069)

Why must people with no idea on a particular subject always be in charge of the budgets around a particular subject?

Re:What's the point.. (2, Funny)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551131)

because they have all of the money, wasn't that easy?

Re:What's the point.. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551141)

Because people who do understand subjects like this usually have a hard time deciding their budget shouldn't be unlimited.

I know, because I happen to be one of those people. I'm just saying I can see how it might be seen as a conflict of interest to expect people to limit their own budgets (when those budgets).

Re:What's the point.. (3, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551261)

I like your thinking. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:What's the point.. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551449)

I like your thinking. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Because of the economic downturn, all funding for his newsletter has been taken out of the budget.

Re:What's the point.. (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551629)

Why must people with no idea on a particular subject always be in charge of the budgets around a particular subject?

Because a "budget" has to make choices between ALL different possible areas of funding, based on the relative trade-offs of each, and NOBODY is a skilled expert on every subject.

The theory is, you have a group of experts on the range of topics reporting to someone who is impartial, and will take that information and decide which options are potentially the best use of the money. It's just that, in reality, choosing people who are good at that last important part is rarely done properly.

Re:What's the point.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552051)

Peter's Principle.

Re:What's the point.. (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552131)


Because human society has primarily developed over its history the seldom questioned concept that one person is in charge and another person does work for them. As soon as you reach such a level of work that specialist knowledge or ability which can only be obtained by doing the job is required, then this inevitably implies the person in charge hasn't got that level of knowledge or ability.

For you to have the people who are actually doing the work in charge of the work, you have to reverse millenia of king -> Serf cultural accumulation.

Re:What's the point.. (1)

skarphace (812333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25555857)

For you to have the people who are actually doing the work in charge of the work, you have to reverse millenia of king -> Serf cultural accumulation.

I'm curious. What would you replace it with?

If you look at pretty much all social structures in nature, you have a leader that organizes and directs the rest of their society or group. I suppose democracy would work, but it's far from efficient. And efficiency is what is needed for businesses.

Re:What's the point.. (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 5 years ago | (#25554105)

Why must people with no idea on a particular subject always be in charge of the budgets around a particular subject?

Its like a basic rule of nature. God's in his retirement home; he assigned one of his best agents to run hell, and then his worst agent to run the universe in general, and his second worst agent to run heaven. That explains everything.

Re:What's the point.. (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25555797)

Why must people with no idea on a particular subject always be in charge of the budgets around a particular subject?

Why, for the same reason we need phone sanitizers ... So we can have some good satire.

Sadly, deciding budget allocations and the like seems to be where we put people when we've ran out of places to put them to keep them out of trouble. Especially, I'm told, in the Army! :-P

Cheers

Re:What's the point.. (2, Interesting)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551329)

Also likely, from this 'Investigators should presuppose the existence of a fully functional quantum computer' is that they /already have/ a fully functional quantum computer, and are just trying to figure out what to do with the darned thing.

Re:What's the point.. (1)

johndmartiniii (1213700) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551513)

Yah, we're getting really lax on playing our cards close to our chests aren't we.

I wonder if the quantum computer that the NSA doesn't have runs Linux yet.

Re:What's the point.. (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552151)

I wonder if the quantum computer that the NSA doesn't have runs Linux yet.

Well, until you open the box, it does and it does not .. at the same time!

Re:What's the point.. (1)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25554083)


Why should we fund this? I mean look at the depression we're all in, they're obviously trying to make budget cuts and aren't sure if they should drop quantum computing.

I agree, it has been rather depressing lately... With unemployment @ 6%, taxes with new president will wipe out more companies and increase unemployment... Very depressing. Almost enough to make one forget about a recession.

Presupposing is good. (1)

((hristopher _-*-_-* (956823) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551063)

'Investigators should presuppose the existence of a fully functional quantum computer and consider what algorithmic tasks are particularly well suited to such a machine.'

Presupposing the existence of new technology is the same process I (and I imagine others) use to think of new business idea's ahead of the curve.

Re:Presupposing is good. (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552837)

quantum computer simulator exists and do work as supposed/intended, so theories could well be tested without the actual hardware. (still, it takes ages or a very powerful computer)

Reminds me of an old joke (5, Funny)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551101)

A chemist, a physicist and a mathematician are stranded on a desert island, and all they have is a can of beans. They need to open the can so that they can eat, so they each in turn set about devising a method to open the can.

The chemist comes up with a method that involves making seawater acidic enough to get the top off (while neutralizing the acid with some basic coconut juice from a nearby tree.)

The physicist comes up with a complicated rock apparatus to basically smash open the can.

The mathematician scratches his head, and walks around the beach for a while considering the problem. Finally, he comes and sits down next to his fellow castaways and says, "Assume a can opener..."

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551259)

Might need to work on that punchline a bit...

"I have proven that it is in fact possible to open this can."

Or something along those lines.

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551407)

I prefer this one:

A psych grad student asked a mathematician and a physicist to help him out with his experiment. First, the psych student gave the physicist an empty kettle, and asked him to go boil some water while the mathematician was waiting in the other room.

The physicist went to fill the water at the tap, then put it on the stove and turned the flame on. Next, it was the mathematician's turn. He took the empty kettle, filled it at the tap, and put it on the stove and turned the flame on. That was experiment 1.

For the second experiment, the psych student filled the kettle himself, put it on the unlit stove, and asked each of them again to boil some water. The physicist went to the stove and just turned on the flame. Next, it was the mathematician's turn. But when the psych student asked him to boil the water, he took the kettle to the sink instead and emptied it. When asked why he did that, he replied: "Now that the kettle is empty, it's a solved problem."

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551515)

That's not a "presuppose" joke.

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551679)

A priori, it might be :)

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25554529)

My favorite:

A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer were all friends, and had all three decided to go together to an interesting-sounding symposium. Since the event was in another city, they all three booked rooms in the same nearby hotel so they could arrive a day early. They arrived, had some dinner and some drinks, and retired to their respective rooms, eventually falling asleep.

Later that night, the engineer awoke to find that a small fire had started in his room. Judging the size of the fire and estimating how much water would be needed to definitely put it out, he filled an ice bucket with water and threw it on the fire. The fire was doused immediately and the engineer went back to sleep.

A little while later, the physicist awoke to find a small fire in his room as well. He fashioned some crude instruments to measure the thermal output and combustion zone of the fire, and, making some quick calculations, determined precisely how much water would be needed to stop the reaction. He carefully measure out the needed amount into a drinking glass, applied it carefully to the fire, and eventually the fire died out. The physicist, satisfied, went back to sleep.

Later still, a small fire started in the mathematician's room as well. He eventually woke, saw the fire, and immediately reached for the pencil and paper sitting on his nightstand. He scrawled furiously for several minutes, then, satisified, went back to sleep.

About an hour later the three friends were standing outside the smoking remains of the hotel, it having burned down. "You know," said the mathematician, "I believe that fire started in my very room."

"It did?" said the engineer. "Why on Earth didn't you put it out?"

The mathematician considered this for a moment. "But I proved it could be done! The rest is trivial."

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564399)

Q: How many mathematicians does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: One. He gives it to a physicist, thus reducing it to a previous joke.

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (1)

Fry-kun (619632) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551861)

Consider a spherical cow... :)

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25553871)

Consider a spherical cow... :)

Consider the equation calculating the surface area of a real cow in 3 dimensions; including the hair. You can come back in a few years when you're finished figuring out how to do that. As for the rest of us we will continue working with the spherical cows and finish the thermodynamics lesson.

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25555905)

Consider the equation calculating the surface area of a real cow in 3 dimensions; including the hair. You can come back in a few years when you're finished figuring out how to do that. As for the rest of us we will continue working with the spherical cows and finish the thermodynamics lesson.

As much as we understand why spherical cows makes for some nice, simplified assumptions.

It's still kind of bizarre to read about some of these things -- speherical ducks and cows have been funny for just slightly less time than we've had them as placeholders in equations. The layperson finds them self with a big "WTF".

It's one of those things by the time people doing astronomical research are done, they've gone through half a dozen "simplifying" steps that seem to largely reduce calculations to the level of "thumb and squint". Which, I guess when you're working on a universal scale is fairly useful.

Cheers

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552403)

A chemist, a physicist and a mathematician are stranded on a desert island, and all they have is a can of beans. They need to open the can so that they can eat, so they each in turn set about devising a method to open the can.

The chemist comes up with a method that involves making seawater acidic enough to get the top off (while neutralizing the acid with some basic coconut juice from a nearby tree.)

The physicist comes up with a complicated rock apparatus to basically smash open the can.

The mathematician scratches his head, and walks around the beach for a while considering the problem. Finally, he comes and sits down next to his fellow castaways and says, "Define this beach to be the inside of the can..."

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (1)

rch_slashdot (902085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553357)

A chemist, a physicist and a mathematician are stranded on a desert island, and all they have is a can of beans. They need to open the can so that they can eat, so they each in turn set about devising a method to open the can.

The chemist comes up with a method that involves making seawater acidic enough to get the top off (while neutralizing the acid with some basic coconut juice from a nearby tree.)

The physicist comes up with a complicated rock apparatus to basically smash open the can.

The mathematician scratches his head, and walks around the beach for a while considering the problem. Finally, he comes and sits down next to his fellow castaways and says, "Assume a can opener..."

Mathematician's solution: Excuse me if I ruin an old joke. Put a plate by the tin of beans, and wait for them to appear. They probably will! (See "How to catch a lion" passim).

Re:Reminds me of an old joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25556495)

Yeah! Stupid Mathematicians can't never get no beans!

So... (4, Funny)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551105)

"Investigators should presuppose the existence of a fully functional quantum computer," huh?

Does anyone else here read this as "NSA has a nifty, shiny new toy and are looking for ways to use it" ...?

Re:So... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551151)

Yeah, too suspicious to regard that as an "if we had one"...

*dons foil hat*

Re:So... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551189)

It's just as possible that they don't have one but are working on one. Their goal may be to have a supply of algorithms already available by the time they complete their development of a quantum computer.

Another possibility, which was mentioned by someone else above, is that they may be trying to decide whether they should try to build a quantum computer.

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

shawb (16347) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551229)

Alternatively, they may be trying to convince the world that they DO have a quantum computer.

Re:So... (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551437)

Maybe they're trying to have a future quantum computer send its manufacturing information back to the present so it can be created.

Re:So... (4, Funny)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551443)

Alternatively, they may be trying to convince the world that they MAY have a quantum computer.

Fixed that for you. When it comes to Quantum, you can never be too certain.

Re:So... (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25555951)

"Fixed that for you. When it comes to Quantum, you can never be too certain"

Are you sure about that?

Re:So... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25555963)

Alternatively, they may be trying to convince the world that they DO have a quantum computer.

Or, maybe they're saying "if we had a quantum computer, what would we do with it? And would it be worth having one in the first place?".

You know, I'm all for a little good fun and some paranoia, but at some point, the tin-foil hat mentality here on Slashdot does get a little into the realm of the absurd. :-P

Cheers

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551219)

"Investigators should presuppose the existence of a fully functional quantum computer," huh?

Does anyone else here read this as "NSA has a nifty, shiny new toy and are looking for ways to use it" ...?

I'm sure a lot of people read it that way. Personally, I read it as, "We know a quantum computer will be practical in the near future, and when that happens we want to be able to hit the ground running while everybody else says 'we has a nifty, shiny new toy and are looking for ways to use it.'"

Re:So... (1)

TheEmptySet (1060334) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552167)

Yet another plausible explanation is that they are concerned that someone else may soon have one (possibly even already) and they would like very much to know what things it renders insecure.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552799)

"Investigators should presuppose the existence of a fully functional quantum computer," huh?

Does anyone else here read this as "NSA has a nifty, shiny new toy and are looking for ways to use it" ...?

I'm sure a lot of people read it that way. Personally, I read it as, "We know a quantum computer will be practical in the near future, and when that happens we want to be able to hit the ground running while everybody else says 'we has a nifty, shiny new toy and are looking for ways to use it.'"

Or they are just trying to find a way to prove (or disprove) that a quantum computer hactually is a quantum computer.

Respek.

Re:So... (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564409)

Or they are just trying to find a way to prove (or disprove) that a quantum computer hactually is a quantum computer.

Have you recently developed a Cockney accent, or was that a pun?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25557617)

Compare this to the original Manchester Baby - Turing was writing software before the hardware was running. I guess we donÂt have major changes in hardware design these days, so this now seems strange?

Re:So... (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564415)

Hell, compare it to the Analytical Engine--Ada Lovelace wrote software for hardware that never got built.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551227)

I second this...
Suppose the existence of something because we paid a huge sum for the classified device and are not really sure what we paid for and can't really ask.

But a QUANTUM computer has to be better than a computer running Vista...

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551357)

No, I read it as "give us a good reason to invest in quantum computing" or "give us free software so that when quantum computers are invented, we'll be all set to make use of them".

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551369)

If they have someone smart enough to make a quantum computer then they have someone smart enough to do what they are asking.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551631)

well, first they need to verify a quantum computer. So I read it as:

"NSA has/is developing a shiny new toy but we don't know if it is what we think it is. So we need new games to play on our new toy."

Re:So... (2, Informative)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553179)

Two problems:

1.) They wouldn't tell us. They wouldn't even tell us this subtly.

2.) They would have no lack of work for their shiny new toy, and the algorithm exists already. See Shor's algorithm [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So... (1)

leonardluen (211265) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553551)

more likely is that the NSA office is currently being overrun by cats and they are trying to figure out a way to get rid of them.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553731)

No. Too obvious. They might as well just say they have a quantum computer. If they had one and didn't want anyone to know about it, they'd get this research done more quietly.

This is a "construct reasons why quantum computers should be funded". Also, if they feel that working quantum computers are on the horizon, their design may need to be influenced by their future application. (For example, Algorithm We Must Have required 192 qbits -- so make sure that first working quantum computer has at least that many.)

Re:So... (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#25554585)

Well, for an organization like NSA or the DoD to start thinking about what a working quantum computer would mean for things like cryptography is not after such a computer has been found to exist.

That would be ... suboptimal.

And, after all, since nobody knows whether such a thing is a practical possibility, it might take only one person having a really clever insight to make it possible. If such a thing is a practical impossibility, well, even so studying how it might behave may still be quite useful.

Re:So... (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 5 years ago | (#25556703)

Well, my paranoid side reads this as: "they have a basic quantum computer and are having trouble using it." If you recall, Colossus [wikipedia.org] was the first large-scale programmable computer, not ENIAC, and the Colossus computers were hidden inside Bletchley Park [wikipedia.org] , busily breaking the 'unbreakable' encryption of the day. I would not be shocked to learn that the NSA or some similar agency is already breaking our current encryption schemes with computers that "don't exist".

Re:So... (1)

WhiteHorse-The Origi (1147665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565283)

This is true. The quantum computer at Stanford can factor large numbers into primes many times faster than any other computer. They're just trying to find other uses. One that came out recently is the quantum light switch, possibly making optical communication faster.

Re:So... (1)

bagsc (254194) | more than 5 years ago | (#25558789)

No, they want to see if it's worth the time and money to get one. No sense devoting that kind of resources if know one even knows how its going to be useful in theory.

It takes a pile of existing research to convince politicians to spend military budget money on actually important technology rather than something stupid that is made in their district.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25559045)

Actually this might just be a useful application of Schodeger's thought experiment. Perhaps the NSA has a empty black box and they hope that if everyone assumes that there is a working quantum computer in the black box the wave equation will collapse and like magic a real working quantum computer will appear in the box when it is opened.

Re:So... (1)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25559713)

You're thinking of the Infinite Improbability Drive.

I don't think there's enough hot tea in the world, Nutri-Matics or no, to pull that off...

Re:So... (1)

WhiteHorse-The Origi (1147665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565259)

They do have one. My buddy at Stanford has been working on it(with dozens of others) and it's all finished. They basically need an OS(a bunch of compiled algorithms) and a list of problems they can solve in order to compare it to a 64-bit AMD 16-core, etc.
It's not a big secret, I think the Japanese have one as well that's nearing mass-production.

wait.. (1)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551303)

Can't a quantum computer (givin the proper network of a fully functional CPU) break any encryption instantly by only actually arriving at the destination assigned?

I'm not sure on the exact complexities.. but yea, isn't it that quantum computers are the next thing because they only give the superimposed electrons always take the path that's watched?

Re:wait.. (1)

((hristopher _-*-_-* (956823) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551335)

but yea, isn't it that quantum computers are the next thing because they only give the superimposed electrons always take the path that's watched?

That string confused me, it must be quantum.

Re:wait.. (1)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551363)

err.. whoops. that's what I get for rewording mid-sentence and then not proof-reading -.-'

It should be relatively close enough to legible English for someone to understand it though xD

...

Or.. maybe I just speak to people with horrible writing enough that I can understand really really bad English :\

Re:wait.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551425)

It can't break *any* encryption. However, it can break the public key cryptography we frequently use, which is based on factoring numbers (or similar algebraic problems).

It's a common misconception that a quantum computer can explore "all possible paths" at once. It can't. It can have states representing all possible paths.. but collapsing the states into something readable may not be possible. For example, for NP-complete problems, quantum algorithms are only known to give a square root improvement in performance, that is, instead of the algorithm taking O(2^n) time, it might take O(sqrt(2^n)) time.. which is pretty much just as bad (it's 2^(n/2)).

Re:wait.. (2, Interesting)

FrangoAssado (561740) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551509)

Can't a quantum computer [...] break any encryption instantly by only actually arriving at the destination assigned?

No. Quantum computers can theoretically solve some problems faster than classical computers. Among these (and perhaps most famously) is factoring -- see Shor's Algorithm [wikipedia.org] . Fast factorization breaks RSA encryption, which is what everyone uses.

It is not known whether quantum computers can in general solve problems exponentially faster than classical ones. Further, it is not known for most important problems how to take advantage of quantum computers to achieve dramatic speedups (or even if it's possible). It seems that NSA and the Army want to know more about this.

Re:wait.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25557921)

Quantum computers can also do a quadratic speed up on any problem that can be phrased as a search (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover_algorithm). Not quite the bang of exponential speedup but it still matters.

Simple (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551323)

Start brute forcing crypto keys and infiltrating enemy networks.

Isn't that quantum computing's claim to fame?

Project proposed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551343)

Can dual state of particles be used to create an army of zombie soldiers that are both alive and dead?

Can particle entanglement be weaponized?

Can "Godparticles" be used to lighten aircraft to save fuel?

Are these proposals brilliant or stupid or does it depend on the observer?

Little Do They Know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551411)

...that quantum computing is pure crackpottery [blogspot.com] .

One day at the NSA (4, Funny)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551431)

Jim "well it is this new quantum encryption software, everytime I open a new subject the encrypted output window is already full of encrypted text and I havent even typed anything.
IT Support "ah yes that is normal, it is a side effect of quantum state data transfer, you know, it arrives before it leaves etc, just ignore it"
Jim "out of curriosity has anyone ever tried decrypting the text before they have actually written the message"
IT Support "God no, dont ever do that, laws of time and space become screwed up, the last guy who tried that vanished with a sucking noise and was replaced by a plush cookie monster toy"

It's about time (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551685)

Quantum computing has been getting quite a lot of grant money in recent years, ever since IBM's Peter Shor found a quantum algorithm to factor products of large primes in polynomial time, threatening to break a lot of public key cryptosystems. The money that this unlocked has supported a lot of neat basic physics research, but at present Shor's algorithm remains the only known killer app for quantum computers. It's about time somebody asked for more applications. If none are found soon, funding for QC will probably drop quite a bit, and probably should.

Re:It's about time (2, Interesting)

darkstar949 (697933) | more than 5 years ago | (#25553157)

If I remember my theory correctly, then any of the NP-Complete problems would most likely be solvable in polynomial time using quantum computers. A couple of the problems have more obvious military uses than others; for example, the knapsack problem would allow for the optimization of logistics and it looks like there is already a quantum algorithm of knapsack problem. [sciencelinks.jp]

Re:It's about time (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25554767)

You don't remember your theory correctly. Most QM researchers believe that NP complete problems -cannot- be solved in polynomial time, using a QM computer. I think that particular paper is now considered dubious, to put it mildly.

The real open problem that might be accessible to a QM computer is graph isomorphism.

Re:It's about time (1)

darkstar949 (697933) | more than 5 years ago | (#25557145)

Alright, I went and did a bit more reading on the subject and it looks like you are right. However, it seems that I was thinking about some of the papers that use quantum computers as an oracle machine that would allow for polynomial time solutions. But those papers start to trend outside of my knowledge base - anyone have recommendations on papers and books in this area?

Re:It's about time (1)

WhiteHorse-The Origi (1147665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565417)

Yes, any NP-Complete problem can be solved on a quantum computer by Grover's algorithm with a quadratic speed-up. I dunno why they're asking for help when they could just go get a list NP systems and start solving those...

Yeah They Want To... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551719)

Break current encryption in linear time and disintegrate people. The first one is pretty obvious from the specs, the second one is just something the Army has always wanted to do.

I'm more interested in its promise for simulation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552389)

I think cracking codes is one of the least meaningful purposes quantum computers will have. Simulation of quantum systems, for basic research as well as for engineering, will make a much bigger impact. Yet people always seem to focus on the promise it holds for code-cracking. I think most people just don't appreciate how important quantum mechanics has been in creating the technologies that are all around us in the modern world. Being able to more 'naturally' simulate these systems that rely on quantum phenomena could potentially open up whole new fields of study.

Uhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25553355)

If a black hole forms over my house, it was the CIA.

Public Service Announcement from the Army (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25553471)

Although we here in Your Army are constantly exploring new ways to make your job as a soldier better, safer and more effective, there might still be times when you'll be expected to push a bayonet through another person's heart while looking right at them. Just like your father or grandfather might have had to. We call that "tradition", and it's really hard to hide that behind technological bling in green paint.

We now return you to the regularly scheduled election. Good night.

That means.... (1)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 5 years ago | (#25555459)

That means they have a working quantum computer and need additional code to throw at it.

So in about 10 to 15 years we will start seeing quantum computers available for the masses.

COOL!

Reversible Logic Synthesis (1)

kEnder242 (262421) | more than 5 years ago | (#25560627)

Here's a good book on Quantum computing [amazon.com] (November 5, 2003)
All about what you can and can't do with quantum computing (and how to implement it)
If you don't want to wade through everything, skip to Chapter 11 [google.com]

There is a Quantum Computer that can do this... (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 5 years ago | (#25562517)

...And there isn't a Quantum Computer that can do this computing.

Both the existence and non-existence on the state of the application can be pre-supposed, but the recognition of the answer is going to take a larger computer -- which cannot reveal its solution, otherwise the existing, non-existing Quantum Computer will collapse.

The Quantum Computer will be really great, at recognizing a face and returning an answer immediately, from a database of 50 million. The answer will be; "Yes." Then a traditional computer will search through the database, to find which one got the right answer. If the answer is "No" -- well, you don't have to search the database. So a Quantum Computer will save you 50% of the time (on average) by NOT doing things for which you don't have an answer.

This is a fake solicitation (1)

WhiteHorse-The Origi (1147665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565485)

These DoD proposals are all fake. They have friends that have already done the research and now they're publishing a fake solicitation because they're required to, by law. After a fake bidding process, the money will be awarded to their buddies who have already completed the research and they'll use the money to do their next research project, which will be funded retroactively with another fake solicitation like this one.
I've seen thousands of these over the years and the truth is that any proposal you submit will either be swept under the rug or stolen and repackaged. Period!
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