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Hybrid Technology Could Bring 'Quantum Information Systems'

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the small-advances dept.

Supercomputing 55

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Purdue say the merging of plasmonics and nanophotonics is promising the emergence of new 'quantum information systems' far more powerful than today's computers. Plasmons are quasiparticles that combine electrons and photons. And by using them in place of the simple electrons of today's computers, they could overcome limitations in the operational speed of conventional integrated circuits. The technology hinges on using single photons for switching and routing in computers that would harness the exotic principles of quantum mechanics.'"

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Optical Computers != Quantum Computers (1)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883130)

Get us real optical computers first. Then maybe we can talk about using quantum computing on them. But the first step alone would be a huge improvement.

Re:Optical Computers != Quantum Computers (2)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883386)

Optical computer - yes there were articles about these in Scientific American in the early 80s - anyone got the reference? Even older I am sure. And holography was going to replace magnetic memory of all sorts. I think there is an article about flying cars in that issue. Oh and one day we'd all have portable phones as small as Star Trek communicators...

Re:Optical Computers != Quantum Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883426)

I thought we already had that, at least as small as the Original Series communicators that is.

Re:Optical Computers != Quantum Computers (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883460)

1 out of 4 isnt bad for predictions.

Re:Optical Computers != Quantum Computers (1)

tjlaxs (1872422) | more than 2 years ago | (#37891718)

Considering holography as a medium is in the news from time to time, it's almost 2/4.

Re:Optical Computers != Quantum Computers (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884238)

Forget the whole computer, just a nice fat light pipe between the CPU and RAM, maybe a second between the PCIe and CPU but but great, thanks loads. Nowadays it seems like no matter how much RAM you stuff keeping the CPU and GPU fed ends up being the problem. SSDs for the OS can kill a lot of the HDD problem but in the end it all comes down to feeding the chips and a nice light pipe between the chips and RAM would probably make today's PCs feel like a 386 trying to run Win98.

Re:Optical Computers != Quantum Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884608)

Holography is going to replace memory, since it is the next step after blue ray...

And these won't be optical computers since it would be hybrid technologies between using electrons and photons... Optical computers would only use photons (pure photo-transistors) and are said to be consuming too much energy regarding the current electronics technologies...

Re:Optical Computers != Quantum Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883908)

One thing is certain, we all be dead before a affordable desktop optical or quantum chip is mass marketed.

Re:Optical Computers != Quantum Computers (1)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884526)

Optical computer is not a mandatory step toward the quantum computer. There is no need to serialize anything here, anyway, I don't believe they will listen at you.

Yea, could be (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883140)

whatever, call me when it is

Quantum (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883188)

the Quantum is a system for use switching or like that. but i know one other thing its also Quintum its use for IP Phone and ATM credit card.and its use for analog phone which is use with 24 patch panel.and its working to much good.http://www.jobsincareer.com/research-job/time-to-choose-whats-most-important/

A favor, please (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883286)

Plan me a hypothetical 18 semester credits in Quantum Information Systems so I can get a BSBA in it.

Re:A favor, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884236)

But remember, before you can even consider applying for an entry level job you'll need at least 5 years experience.

I'm a genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883400)

I just read a slashdot summary and it wasn't saturated with acronyms that have several completely different meanings depending on your field of expertise.

Mr. Smarty Pants
mr.smarty.org(inization)

Re:I'm a genius (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37889824)

I just read a slashdot summary and it wasn't saturated with acronyms that have several completely different meanings depending on your field of expertise.

Well, I noticed a lot of use of the term "quantum", which has radically different meanings to different people. In this case, I see strong evidence that they were using the Marketing meaning of "quantum", i.e., something vaguely defined but mysterious and powerful that will impress the marks^Wcustomers when you throw it into your ad copy.

They couldn't have been using the physicists' meaning of "quantum"; it's been decades since you could understand how a computer's solid-state components worked without understanding quantum mechanics. TFA is pushing "quantum" as something new, so they must mean something different by that buzz word.

It definitely reads as a buzz word, with lots of hype over something that's vague and fuzzy (but powerful, y'know).

Coming Soon (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883408)

Quantum C. You never know what the variables may hold.

Re:Coming Soon (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883750)

Some old wisdom could be re-used:
"Variables won't, constants aren't."

Re:Coming Soon (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892744)

So, like normal C then.

HR job description (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883470)

At least five year's experience in plasmonics and nanophotonics.

Quantum Computing Baffles Me (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883496)

How do you program randomness?

If you think you have to warp your head to work with non-traditional languages like Erlang, wait until you have to deal with the next generation of technology.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883570)

Going for +1 Insightful ? I guess the computer science-y moderators will think it's deep, but those of us in real professions where we build and invent new things think it's adorable you are beginning to explore outside of your programming language sandbox.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883640)

Well, as always, it's harder than it looks because people are so bad at explaining things well.

Actually, it's all about statistics and likelinesses. And as you might know, those are well-know topics for mathematicians.

I think it's pretty weird that our computers are thinking all black and white, when that is never ever the case, except for the effects of quantization.
Say you want to calculate something. In quantum computing, you would get not one result, but all of them in an overlaying state. (Like a distribution curve.) You might say that that is pretty useless, no?
Well, no, since the functions you would want to feed the result to would just as well accept such values, allowing you to continue with them as if they were normal values. (Of course you should still be aware of the differences, as they can be both harmful and useful.)

That's how I imagine one would work with such systems.
If you want to pick a specific exact value at the end, just pick the most likely one. It will always be the correct one. (And indeed in reality, since everything is controlled by quantum physics anyway, the result you get from your deterministic computer today, is just as much only a automatic pick (because it is being observed) of the most likely result. It's just that with quantum computers, you get more than just that, as you can still pull out information about the distribution and such stuff, giving you even better detail when needed..)

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883676)

I think that that was the clearest description of quantum computing, you should edit the Wikipedia page.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884402)

"Well, no, since the functions you would want to feed the result to would just as well accept such values, allowing you to continue with them as if they were normal values. (Of course you should still be aware of the differences, as they can be both harmful and useful.)"

What is this, i don't even

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (2)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884938)

Okay, let's try to simplify it even more. Quantum computers have gates just like ordinary computers. There's a difference, though: instead of acting only on a single value, they act on a whole bundle of them at once (that's the probability distribution). You can in effect calculate a function on many inputs at once, but you can't reach behind the curtain and pick all the answers (or any answer you want) from the result. When you do ask the computer to reveal an answer, you get a random answer from the entire bundle according to its probability. The clever part about quantum algorithm design is then to first alter the input bundle in the way you want, then selectively amplify the answer that you're interested in so you'll get it very often and get other answers rarely if at all.

More or less. I Am Not A Quantum Physicist, grain of salt, etcetera.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37886412)

My lack of mod points shames me. Please accept my gratitude in return.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894780)

2+2=4, 9 times out of 10?

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (1)

TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 2 years ago | (#37942776)

your first post made no sense, there in what i copied, but this response /was/ nice to read. A better explanation of "clever part" is desirable!

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883648)

How do you program randomness?

If you think you have to warp your head to work with non-traditional languages like Erlang, wait until you have to deal with the next generation of technology.

Quantum computing just needs to reach a certain error threshold, something like 1 in 50,000 or 1 in 100,000. At that point error-correction algorithms can correct for the rest.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (3, Informative)

byornski (1022169) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883678)

The whole point in quantum computing is that it is not random but completely deterministic through the wavefunction. Only the measurements of quantum states are "random" and this is because you are forcing the system to take one of a few discrete values. Through multiple measurements, we can pin down the expectation (average) value of the observable which should be constant for constant inputs on a certain calculation.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884314)

Actually for most algorithms you don't need statistics, because you can easily check if your solution is the correct one (e.g. prime factorization: Just multiply the numbers you got, and see if the original number results). If it is, you're ready, if not, you run the program again. The trick is to get into a state where the correct answer is very likely to occur. Or at least significantly more likely than by pure guessing.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37889108)

The whole point in quantum computing is that it is not random but completely deterministic through the wavefunction.

This is an odd thing to say, as the wave function is inherently a probability function. "Completely deterministic" gives the wrong idea.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (1)

byornski (1022169) | more than 2 years ago | (#37889150)

For a given starting state, the ending state is determined by the operations in the quantum computer. It is only in trying to measure the resulting qubits that the probability interpretation comes into it.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 2 years ago | (#37889304)

That "ending state" is a probability function. No hidden variables.

Re:Quantum Computing Baffles Me (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885220)

You can always use error correcting codes to reduce the randomness.

Plasmons rule! (1)

leftie (667677) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883836)

Simple electrons teH sUk!

Nothing to see here, move along (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37883960)

I am getting really tired of the "quantum computing" BS. They have basically nothing, and promise the world. By now this is almost an ordinary scam.

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884092)

The research isn't a scam, just as fusion research isn't a scam. It becomes a scam only when people claim to have working models. Otherwise, it is at worst fraud. And generally, just failure. However, the potential is really there. Any competent scientist will tell you we are quite some ways away from working quantum computers. TV shows and magazines like "Scientific" America like you to think they are close (gets you excited and buying whatever they're selling), but all the real science knows that we have quite some ways to go yet.

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (2)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884110)

Or very well may never get there. And even if we get there, it is by far not that much batter to what we have now. Quite a few hard problems stay hard, even with working quantum computers. And yes, I have talked to an expert in the field.

The "almost a scam" is claiming great potential n order to get grant money. This is just dishonest.

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37884250)

Exactly true. Someone trolling for research money move along nothing to see...

I will get more excited when I see 'intel announcing chip to contain...' and 'asus to have MBs to support new chipset'...

THEN we can start getting excited....

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37886900)

Exactly true. Someone trolling for research money move along nothing to see...

I will get more excited when I see 'intel announcing chip to contain...' and 'asus to have MBs to support new chipset'...

THEN we can start getting excited....

Couldn't agree more, fuck basic scientific research, we want gadgets.

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37885702)

Just like all those "private space" outfits, and especially the more outlandish Space Nutter claims like space-based solar. Where is the equivalent Slash skepticism there?

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37886422)

You seem to be handling it.

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37886790)

The promising the world bit seems to be more pop-sci and people who think quantum computers are a replacement for general purpose computers. The researchers I've talked to working on quantum computers were pretty well aware and out-spoken about there being a rather limited number of algorithms that quantum computers are useful for.

And they have something, they have various quantities of working qubits and have implemented some of the algorithms on a small scale, even on a small chip instead of a large optics table. Quantum computers might end up being not mass producible, but that wouldn't mean they would have no use, just like the old giant, room sized computers of yore.

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37889024)

"Quantum Computing" - the new 'Duke Nukem Forever' meme

Re:Nothing to see here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894312)

Quantum computing is not a scam. It is, however, a technology beyond the limits of what we are currently capable of achieving. It will be decades before we have a worthwhile quantum computer. And anyone who knows anything about this will agree with me. However, it is not a scam or even a waste of money to pursue this research. Every year we learn an immense amount about how to control quantum systems and this will lead to an enormous amount of technological advance in the coming decades. Even if we never achieve a quantum computer, the money invested in the field will pay huge dividends in all sorts of parallel, related technologies that are spun off from the central goal of quantum computing. It is difficult to enumerate the possibilities of this research for a couple of reasons. First off, many of the possibilities have yet to be predicted. Second, you would need a strong background in quantum mechanics to understand the conversation, which the typical slashdot reader is not going to have. But I guarantee that learning how to control quantum systems will be a huge revolution in our technological prowess.

I guess I might be a bit biased, since I my phd work was on quantum computing. But it also means I know a lot about it.

plasmonics, nanophotonics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37883982)

Next up, gravitics and positronics? Is this a SciFi story?

technobabble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37885130)

quasiparticles? plasmons? electron + photon? what the hell!
will those help inverting the polarisation of plasma converters too? O.o

I quit physics forever; god can run the show for all I care.

Exotic principles of Quantum Mechanics (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885614)

That's a cute catchphrase at the end of the summary, but it means even less than usual as quantum buzz words go. Most non-physicists have a little, somewhat fuzzy idea about Heisenberg's uncertainty, and conjure up this idea where everything in QM is spooky weird juju, but what does it mean in a case like this?
              Photons don't have that sort of situation when it comes to uncertainty. A Photon has a fixed velocity, known to incredible accuracy, and if that part of QM applied simplistically, it would mean we had no idea of where a photon was, ever. Instead, measuring a photon's location by absorbing it simply eliminates the photon, it doesn't mean we are suddenly fuzzy for 'quantum reasons' about how fast it was moving until then. How fast a photon moves in a medium besides vacuum isn't really part of QM spookyness either, and even the particle/wave duality model is pre Quantum theory stuff - classical physics. Yeah, the best explanation for why light works that way comes from QM, but that it works that way is an idea developed way before QM came along. (In fact, the apparent particle/wave duality was what pushed Planck to develop his math around the turn of the 20th century. That got the name of Quantum theory, but it was mostly pretty straightforward to the physicists of the time. The 'spookystuff' got added in over the next 30 years or so with Dirac, Heisenberg, and others applying their touches to build the whole edifice that is QM). The same 'uncertainty about position' math that can make the behavior of a something like a Bose/Einstein condensate seem incredibly freaky in QM terms, here translates out to defining the wavelength or frequency, which can be a very precisely known quantity (for example for a laser), and which doesn't create a lot of verbal paradoxes, or imply anything about spooky action at a distance, half-dead/half-alive cats, or time travel.
        Adding more optical aspects to a quantum computer design may well be useful, but it isn't likely to up the 'overall weirdness level'. Certainly, optical links between the computing elements, as some here have speculated, won't. Just because the computational core may be working with quibits doesn't mean the north and south busses are suddenly going to pick up extra quantum goodness if they are optical.

         

Re:Exotic principles of Quantum Mechanics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37886712)

We precisely know the velocity of a photon, but not its momentum. The basic Heisenberg uncertainty principle is in terms of momentum and position, not velocity and position. And you can measure aspects of a photon without absorbing it, for example using Compton scatter in a scintillator, where the photon bounces off an electron, only transferring some of its energy before going on.

Re:Exotic principles of Quantum Mechanics (1)

Hythlodaeus (411441) | more than 2 years ago | (#37907298)

We always know the speed of a photon, but velocity is a vector. As for the article, it went through way too much journalist filtering to say anything about the science.

ignorance is a bliss huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37885628)

i have never seen such ignorance to such an advanced technology in /.

What's the hold up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37886306)

They have these theories about these things existing in 2 states at once, but they have no demonstration of this fact. They say it's hard to get the thing stable, it's techncially hard to manipulate photons, or whatever excuse they have, But they have this theory. So what is this theory based on? If there is emperical proof that these things can exist and compute from all state simultaneously, then use that. Otherwise it seems like all this talk is about "we hope we can build something that shows our QM theories are right, but so far, we don't have anything working that demonstrates those QM theories, so... yea... but we're pretty sure QM is right..."

Re:What's the hold up? (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37891812)

semiconductors.

you posted to slashdot, therefore QM works.

thank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37890232)

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