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Study Doubts Quantum Computer Speed

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the it's-better-we-promise dept.

Science 105

Alain Williams writes "The BBC reports that a new academic study has raised doubts about the performance of a commercial quantum computer in certain circumstances. In some tests devised by a team of researchers, the commercial quantum computer has performed no faster than a standard desktop machine. 'The study has been submitted to a journal, but has not yet completed the peer review process to verify the findings. And D-Wave told BBC News the tests set by the scientists were not the kinds of problems where quantum computers offered any advantage over classical types.'"

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But it's QUANTUM! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012681)

It has to be faster, right?

Re:But it's QUANTUM! (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 8 months ago | (#46013201)

But it's QUANTUM!

So's my dishwasher powder.

Re: But it's QUANTUM! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46013279)

peer review does not verify findings.

Re: But it's QUANTUM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46014513)

peer review does not verify findings.

Exactly. Peer review can catch obvious errors, bad logic, bad presentation, and to a certain degree plagiarism. But just because something is published, it doesn't need to be right. It just means it's not so obviously wrong that the reviewer caught it (and not all reviewers are good, either).

Re: But it's QUANTUM! (4, Interesting)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | about 8 months ago | (#46015083)

Reviewers often are working in similar spaces too. I had a paper that failed review the first couple times because the reviewer wanted more data on a particular area of the project. It didn't affect the main idea of the paper or in any way directly contribute to our argument. The reviewer needed some charts generated because he was working on a similar project and it would help for him to have some other paper that he could reference to get started/justify his paper. So not only low paid work sometimes low paid work for someone who you didn't even know was your boss :)

Re:But it's QUANTUM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46014467)

Just like digital improves the quality of everything.

Re:But it's QUANTUM! (4, Funny)

CapOblivious2010 (1731402) | about 8 months ago | (#46019321)

Just like digital improves the quality of everything.

Except music, if you're an audiophile who prefers vinyl.

I don't care one way or the other about the audio, but I'm a true hipster videophile, and I insist on watching everything on VHS. It's hard to describe, but VHS gives a warmer, softer, smoother picture without all those annoying dots distracting you from the filmmaker's true vision.

Re: But it's QUANTUM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46020867)

VHS on CRT uses the NTSC color space, while LCD laptops use the sRGB color space (which can only show half as many colors). It's probably the color gamut.

Messages Missed (3, Insightful)

HetMes (1074585) | about 8 months ago | (#46012683)

A qbit computer already matches conventional computers in speed? I'm impressed!

Re:Messages Missed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012745)

Nope. It's not like quantum computers 'pass normal computers' in their development in terms of performance. They should, even in the first working non-lab prototypes, be much much faster in certain tasks. (tasks I couldn't explain, mind you).

do not know if you measure it (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012689)

it may be faster , slower or both

Re:do not know if you measure it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012857)

That's why DWaves Pseudo-Quantum-Computer contains Heisenberg compensators.

Re:do not know if you measure it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012895)

No, it's all of those at the same time.

Re: do not know if you measure it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46014013)

It is faster. And slower. And the s ame speed until you open the box and see if the cat is dead.

Uhh... wait a tic... am I mixing my quantim metaphors?

Re:do not know if you measure it (2)

gmhowell (26755) | about 8 months ago | (#46020563)

Moot point: once you measure it, you've changed the results. Obviously, all measurements are invalid.

In other news... (2, Insightful)

Saei (3133199) | about 8 months ago | (#46012695)

Prototype engine fails to win Formula One race.

Re:In other news... (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 8 months ago | (#46012797)

Prototype engine fails to win Formula One race.

D-Wave machine is hardly a prototype.

Re:In other news... (2)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 8 months ago | (#46012827)

I believe there are still arguments raging over whether its really a quantum computer at all.

Re: In other news... (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 8 months ago | (#46013009)

This is obviously a case of the observer influencing the outcome of the test.

Re: In other news... (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 8 months ago | (#46013085)

This is obviously a case of the observer influencing the outcome of the test.

Adjusts "Hiesenburg Compensators" hows that :)

Re:In other news... (3, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 8 months ago | (#46013005)

It also hasn't been established that the D-Wave is at all a quantum computer. They've refused to say how it works in that regard, and there has been no proof that any quantum entanglements even take place inside the box.

The thing about d-wave...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46013047)

.....is that it's a hoax created to draw out chinese spies

Re:In other news... (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 8 months ago | (#46012819)

In more accurate news, Formula One car proves sucky at handling the monthly grocery shop...

Re:In other news... (1)

jxander (2605655) | about 8 months ago | (#46014707)

Exactly what I heard. Especially with how badly the headline and first line contradict.

Study Doubts Quantum Computer Speed
raised doubts about the performance of a commercial quantum computer in certain circumstances

The headline makes it seem like someone is doubting the feasibility of quantum computing. Instead, someone is simply questioning it's practical applicability in "certain" circumstances. I already doubt the feasibility of my personal computer in "certain" circumstances. Like on the john... the sink is simply too far away for my mouse to stay ergonomic.

Re:In other news... (2, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#46013125)

you shitting me?

"prototype" engines won f1 all the fucking time when f1 was still cool as fuck and the cars were pretty much all prototypes.

d-wave on the other hand is a company taking millions for their product - which is a black box they say is good at doing something but refuse to tell why or how - and loads of government money is pouring into it.

try calling mb or whoever is actually building f1 engines still and try to buy their current race engine.

now try calling d-wave and try to buy whatever it is that they try to hock you.. it's for sale and it is a production machine.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46013795)

That is how Americans usually do business

Re:In other news... (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 8 months ago | (#46014025)

"prototype" engines won f1 all the fucking time when f1 was still cool as fuck and the cars were pretty much all prototypes.

They still are prototypes.

Re:In other news... (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 8 months ago | (#46015625)

There is a difference between “prototype”, which implies a experiential design that might be refined and moved into production someday and “custom, bespoke”, where one takes true and tried engineering principles and push them to the extremes.

F1 today tends to fall into the latter category today. For example, the bodies use a lot of carbon fiber. The reason we don’t see a lot of carbon fiber into today’s production car is not because of engineering concerns (we know it works) but because of cost.

D-Wave falls into the first category. Does this particular implantation work? Can it be refined to work better? Or does a different approach to quantum computing need to be tried?

Re:In other news... (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 8 months ago | (#46015659)

Granted, but motorsport doesn't make that distinction ;)

Re:In other news... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#46014763)

More like prototype racing engine beaten by Mom's old minivan.

Of course... (1, Flamebait)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 8 months ago | (#46012711)

Of course... The performance doesn't line up with the claims, so the testing methodology is flawed.

Maybe you could take a moment to enlighten us so that we can put to bed the debate as to whether your product actually is a quantum computer.

Re:Of course... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012725)

Well if you test a microscope's ability to crack nuts, you may find that it is out-performed by legacy hammers in certain cases, too.

Re:Of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012825)

Well if you test a microscope's ability to crack nuts, you may find that it is out-performed by legacy hammers in certain cases, too.

The statement that the test was of a type that isn't suitable for quantum computing comes from D-Wave, I wouldn't take it at face value.

Re: Of course... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46014059)

Having dropped such an instrument on my nuts, I can confirm it is at least as efficient as a hammer.

Re:Of course... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#46014835)

OTOH, if you test a microscope at a wide variety of tasks related to magnification and the best it ever manages is just slightly better than the $10 readers you bought at the drug store, you might begin questioning if it even is a microscope.

Re:Of course... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#46012785)

The performance doesn't line up with the claims, so the testing methodology is flawed.

Yeah, kinda what I was thinking.

Either tell us some of the things this can do faster, or we're going to have to assume this is smoke and mirrors.

If it is a real thing, there must be specific types of problems which can be identified where it is faster, and where that can be demonstrated as being significantly faster.

But if there aren't any of those, one does need to question if their claims are true.

Re:Of course... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 8 months ago | (#46012881)

But it's a quantum computer; it's both faster and slower at the same time!

Re:Of course... (4, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#46012951)

But it's a quantum computer; it's both faster and slower at the same time!

Maybe it's quantum marketing, and is therefore both true and false at the same time.

Which would make it indistinguishable from all other marketing.

Re:Of course... (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#46014605)

Quantum superpositions of true and false have the possibility of collapsing to the "true" state when closely observed --- not generally the case with "all other marketing," which tends to follow a classical hidden variable approach (i.e. they were lying all the time, you just didn't know where to look).

Re:Of course... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#46016393)

Quantum superpositions of true and false have the possibility of collapsing to the "true" state when closely observed

Marketing superpositions of true and false have the possibility of collapsing to the "true" state when closely observed as well.

Mostly that's by accident, or through the subtle inclusion of a single objective fact.

Re:Of course... (4, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | about 8 months ago | (#46012885)

DWave don't have to "enlighten us": the statistical tests that distinguish quantum and classical annealing are in the public domain and they've been open about which of those tests they think the machine should pass. The trouble is that it's hard to run those tests cleanly, which is what the study is about:

Here we show how to define and measure quantum speedup in various scenarios, and how to avoid pitfalls that might mask or fake quantum speedup.

Re:Of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46014045)

Exactly! If the testing isn't showing the results there are three options, the testing is flawed, the computer isn't a quantum computer in the sense everyone understands, or our understanding of quantum computers is incorrect.

I'm going to pick number two and say that this isn't a true quantum computer and it's results being lack luster prove it.

Re:Of course... (1)

q.kontinuum (676242) | about 8 months ago | (#46014529)

The device is definitely faster at draining your cash balance. Or, if we are lucky, the cash-balance of e.g. NSA/CIA.

Not news (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012719)

the tests set by the scientists were not the kinds of problems where quantum computers offered any advantage over classical types.

So... why is this here?

Re:Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46014135)

because the article is about a quantum computer which is pretty freaking geeky. Also the news is that the first commercial quantum computer might not even be a quantum computer. The debate is if D-Wave is incorrect in how their hardware works or if the testing methodology is wrong. This is the stuff that should be on the site every time it comes up.

Worthless BBC article (3, Insightful)

GauteL (29207) | about 8 months ago | (#46012773)

Since I haven't read the actual paper, I'll give the researchers the benefit of the doubt. But the BBC reporting is terrible. What I got from the story is that a study has demonstrated that this Quantum computer isn't better at everything. Well, duh! Everyone who has even very casually followed Quantum computing knows that they are a new class of computing which can solve a limited set of problems very quickly. I'm really not much wiser after reading this story.

Re:Worthless BBC article (3, Informative)

myowntrueself (607117) | about 8 months ago | (#46012837)

Since I haven't read the actual paper, I'll give the researchers the benefit of the doubt. But the BBC reporting is terrible. What I got from the story is that a study has demonstrated that this Quantum computer isn't better at everything. Well, duh! Everyone who has even very casually followed Quantum computing knows that they are a new class of computing which can solve a limited set of problems very quickly. I'm really not much wiser after reading this story.

What I got from it is that quantum computing researchers devised some tests for it and that it performed about as well as a desktop computer. I would *imagine* that quantum computing researchers at NASA and Google wouldn't just throw an unsuitable set of tests at it. I *imagine* that they know as much about the D-Wave computer as anyone outside D-Wave know about it and devised tests to, you know, *test* it.

I could be wrong, maybe Google and NASA quantum computing researchers know shit about quantum computing and threw totally unsuitable tests at it.

Re: Worthless BBC article (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 8 months ago | (#46013057)

It is 15 million dollars, split between two hyper-giant organizations on a gamble that it will improve their effectiveness. For organizations that spend billions on computers per year, combined with a desire to remain at the forefront of research and development, that seems like a safe purchase under the "hedging your bets" category.

Re: Worthless BBC article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46016147)

I dont know about Google, but NASA certainly does not spend billions on computers per year.

Re:Worthless BBC article (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46013161)

Maybe you know shit about reading comprehension. Google and NASA are DW2 customers; the researchers in question are at ETH Zurich.

Re: Worthless BBC article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46016263)

The first author is from ETH, but there are also researchers from Google, as well as USC, UCSB, and Microsoft on the paper.

Re:Worthless BBC article (2)

fishicist (777318) | about 8 months ago | (#46013319)

Skip the BBC article and go straight to the arXiv preprint [arxiv.org] .
Quote from the abstract:

Our results for one particular benchmark do not rule out the possibility of speedup for other classes of problems and illustrate that quantum speedup is elusive and can depend on the question posed.

The study asks a very specific question and acknowledge its limited scope.

Re:Worthless BBC article (1, Informative)

globaljustin (574257) | about 8 months ago | (#46015073)

I'll agree that

the BBC reporting is terrible

but it's not 'worthless'...you have to hack through it b/c they aim for the dumbest, most non-tech reader they can imagine...then dumb it down more...but the info is there

you don't need to just "give the researchers the benefit of the doubt"...that's foolish

"Quantum" computing is hype & the research saying it exists is flawed.

This is big news for some people. For me, I split time between the biz world & academia so this matters to me for many reasons.

One example: Research standards vs Hype. Standards for research are abyssmal, taken as a whole across the disciplines. So many times we see coorelation=causation falacies in news about 'new scientific research' like this BBC article.

Quantum Computing is part of that hype & TFA explains some research that confirms that statement!

Re:Worthless BBC article (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 8 months ago | (#46021253)

I probably shouldn't reply to this crackpottery, but since it's modded informative...

"Quantum" computing is hype & the research saying it exists is flawed.

Nuh-huh. The basic principles of quantum computing directly follow from quantum mechanics and have been demonstrated in impractical systems for numbers of Qubits that are too low to be of practical use. Quantum computing is real; saying that it isn't is equivalent to stating that modern physics is all wrong. Quantum computing is not what is being disputed here, it's D-wave's claim that the machine they sell for $$$$ actually relies on quantum effects to produce its results. A claim I've been pretty skeptical of myself even before the publication of the findings reported in TFA.

Re:Worthless BBC article (1)

DMiax (915735) | about 8 months ago | (#46016375)

What the preprint shows is that random instances of the kind of problems solved by the d-wave device are solved faster on a modern GPU, on average. This means if you have an optimization problem of that kind you are still better off trying the classical computer first. If you have a problem of a different kind d-wave won't work at all. What one might hope is that there is a clearly defined sub-class of problems where the machine is consistently faster.

this story never seems to be correct. (5, Informative)

nimbius (983462) | about 8 months ago | (#46012775)

the D-Wave, once we wade through the marketing schtick and look at the technical specifications is a quantum annealer. its not designed to solve a calculation but rather to put us close...it does this from the global minimum of a given objective function over a given set of candidate solutions (candidate states), by a process using quantum fluctuations.

im not trolling over semantics though! annealers are extremely important to solving very difficult mathematic equations, and in many examples quantum annealing has been vastly superior to traditional computational methods. We should do machines like the D-Wave better justice though. Compare it instead to a traditional annealer.

Re:this story never seems to be correct. (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 8 months ago | (#46012915)

Compare it instead to a traditional annealer.

Correct me if I misunderstood, but doesn't calculation effectively produce solutions at least on a similar level of precission as annealing?

Re:this story never seems to be correct. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46013205)

Given enough time, yes. The idea is you use it for a class of problems where you basically walk a huge phase space in search of a minimum. Annealing puts you in a (hopefully) better starting point, so it takes less time to find the true minimum (or it hopefully gets the search restarted from a better point if one is stuck in a local minimum). If D-Wave can do this more efficiently than a classical annealing procedure then it's better at optimizing the starting point of the search. Once the solution is reached, the precision should be the same regardless of the procedure one used.

Re:this story never seems to be correct. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46014093)

Compare it instead to a traditional annealer.

If you read the arxiv preprint, this is what they do - compare it with a traditional simulated annealing approach.

Re:this story never seems to be correct. (4, Informative)

femtobyte (710429) | about 8 months ago | (#46014651)

D-Wave has yet to demonstrate, in the open literature, that their quantum annealing is faster than classical computing annealing methods using considerably cheaper hardware. Early "look how fast we are" comparisons involved comparing against really terrible algorithms on classical hardware --- independent researchers were able to beat D-Wave when not using intentionally crippled approaches.

Re:this story never seems to be correct. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46016587)

Exactly. It's a classic story in R&D:

- Invent a promising new technology based on some groundbreaking principle.
- Announce commercial availability 'real soon now'.
- Initial implementations turn out to be equal or worse to proven implementations based on the 'classic' technology.

-> Now the company has to dial up the PR to 11 in order to stay afloat while the boys in the lab create version 2.0 that actually delivers..

Same thing happens with drug discovery all the time: A brand new drug, targeting some innovative pathway or cellular mechanism is put into phase 2 / 3 trials, and lo and behold, it has close to the same efficacy as the decades-old generic it'll be competing with.

Re:this story never seems to be correct. (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#46016137)

They are. That's the problem, the computation using the dwave for annealing isn't going any faster than the one using the conventional approach on a desktop PC.

svchost.exe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012779)

not even quantum mechanics can help here...

Dwave snake oil? (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 8 months ago | (#46012839)

I had to chuckle at the thought that the D Wave is nothing more than a desktop hidden inside a large case full of magic quantum gizmos. Kinda like those free energy machines with hidden motors and batteries inside them. The article even reads like a free energy hoax:
"The comparison found no evidence D-Wave's $15m (£9.1m) computer was exploiting quantum mechanics to calculate faster than a regular machine."
"And D-Wave told BBC News the tests set by the scientists were not the kinds of problems where quantum computers offered any advantage over classical types."
"Thus, Canada-based D-Wave Systems drew scepticism when, in 2011, they started selling their machines, which appeared to use a non-mainstream method known as adiabatic quantum computing."

But on a more serious note, I would take this supposed quantum computing performance setback with a grain of salt. We haven't even scratched the surface and barely have any real hardware to work with. I would wait until more research and hardware is available before making such bold statements relating to quantum computing performance.

Re:Dwave snake oil? (1)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about 8 months ago | (#46016127)

I had to chuckle at the thought that the D Wave is nothing more than a desktop hidden inside a large case full of magic quantum gizmos.

I hear the D-Wave folks also have been developing a new Retro Encabulator [youtube.com] .

Re:Dwave snake oil? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#46016183)

Actually it is the claim that it performs useful quantum computation that I take with a grain of salt.

"has not yet completed the peer review process" (1)

Kongming (448396) | about 8 months ago | (#46012845)

...then why are we reading about it now? Is it really such an important and decisive finding that we can't wait a few months until it at least gains at least that level of credibility?

Re:"has not yet completed the peer review process" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012945)

There are a set of problems that a linear. They depend upon the results before them. No amount of parallel computing will change that problem. You can make *new* algs that will do that task in parallel sometimes. Parallel is where quantum computing really shined. As you could in theory have a beaker of goo and it 'does stuff'. The reality is much more like a standard computer laid out on a board and waiting for memory to show up.

This is not really news to anyone who put some thought into it. It has the *potential* to be stupidly parallel. Which means alg's already bent to be parallel will work very well. If something depends on a previous result you are instantly back into batch behavior. I suspect though setup time will become a major factor in getting these things to produce results.

Some people seem to be surprised by this result.

Re:"has not yet completed the peer review process" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46013283)

Are you talking about the paper or about the "quantum computer"?

Because they were observing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46012875)

The commercial quantum computer has performed no faster than a standard desktop machine because the benchmark test was being observed by a team of researchers. Had they not have looked at it, the results would have been different.

Re: Because they were observing (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 8 months ago | (#46013103)

Of if they weren't actually observing, they were probably thinking about observing.

Well (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 8 months ago | (#46013067)

And D-Wave told BBC News the tests set by the scientists were not the kinds of problems where quantum computers offered any advantage over classical types

From the abstract:

We illustrate our discussion with data from a randomized benchmark test on a D-Wave Two device with up to 503 qubits.

What is a randomized benchmark test? What is randomized? The algorithm itself? Then I guess that's not a good test.
And was D-Wave not involved in the study?

Re:Well (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 8 months ago | (#46014777)

It's obviously referring to randomly chosen problem instances, which are then approximately-solved by both the D-wave device and a state-of-the-art classical algorithm. Don't be a fool.

And why should D-wave be involved in the study? Is Intel involved in every benchmark test of x86 hardware? That would be very suspicious indeed.

Re:Well (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about 8 months ago | (#46015827)

I don't know, but you'd think D-Wave could maybe suggest, even vaguely, a single problem which it can solve faster than a conventional computer costing a fraction as much, no? I mean just _one_ problem where it really shines.

idiotic (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 8 months ago | (#46013075)

"tests set by the scientists were not the kinds of problems where quantum computers offered any advantage over classical types"
My cell phone isn't very good at editing 1080p videos or hosting Exchange 2013 and my toaster isn't good at cooking eggs either. The headline should read "quantum computer not good at calculations they weren't designed to do." What a useless story.

Re:idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46013241)

If it was even a quantum computer that would help. It's a total fraud.

Not news (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 8 months ago | (#46013123)

It's long been known that quantum computing offers speed-ups only on certain problems. Thing is, many of those problems are of immense practical import (like factoring large numbers).

Re:Not news (1)

abies (607076) | about 8 months ago | (#46013299)

And thing is that this D-wave gizmo seems to be useless for these important problems.

I assure you that if they would show factorization of very big numbers in instant time, nobody would doubt them, but instead line up with checkbooks.

So far, as far as I'm aware, they have failed to show ANY kind of important problem which can be solved by their machine in time orders of magnitude faster than comparable size hardware (not to mention, comparable _cost_ hardware).

Re:Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46014165)

Is factoring a prime number such an important problem?
D-Wave can be used for all sorts of optimization problems, like image recognition, traveling sales man, etc.

The real quantum computer that are made by universities are able to factor really quickly. But it can only factor really small numbers, that will fit in a small lookup table in ram, which is faster than those real quatum computer universities make. Also the quantum computers universities make can only factor numbers, it is not a universal computer.

You first have to wait until quantum computers are large enough to be faster at classical computers at certain problems.

According to Google for their image recognition algorithm the D-Wave 500 qubit computer performs as well as a small data center of classical computers. So right now they are on-par. We will have to wait and see if the D-Wave 1000 qubit computer will outpace a data center of classical computers in calculations/price.

Re:Not news (2)

amorsen (7485) | about 8 months ago | (#46014347)

Is factoring a prime number such an important problem?

I do that in constant time, actually. Or log(N) if I have to print the result.

Re:Not news (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46014063)

It's long been known that quantum computing offers speed-ups only on certain problems. Thing is, many of those problems are of immense practical import (like factoring large numbers).

Factoring large numbers would get a lot less important if it weren't computationally wasteful to do it. The main practical application of them is cryptography where the whole point is having a problem who's solution can be verified quickly but takes preposterous amounts of time to compute.

If it became trivial to factor large numbers no one would use crypto schemes based on factoring large numbers and the technology would have rendered itself obsolete. (unless of coarse it can also do something else that's more intrinsically practical)

Flawed experiment?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46013169)

Is it the test that is flawed or is the actual program? How do we know they have created the most advantageous program for quantum computing and not simply using some basic program that fails to capture it's potential use?

What I hate with quantum computers (1)

geogob (569250) | about 8 months ago | (#46013477)

As soon as you know how fast it is, you have no Idea where it is and lose all the gained time searching for it.

D-Wave machine Quantum computer (4, Informative)

Zyrill (700263) | about 8 months ago | (#46013721)

The d-Wave machine supposedly operates under the principles of an adiabatic quantum computer. There is a considerable controversy in the field regarding what machines of that type can and cannot do. But even d-Wave itself does not claim that the machine can solve NP-complete problems in polynomial type, see also the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] . So this article is actually not news but olds. And it is obvious that the author has not a iota of understanding of the distinction of a fully fledged quantum computer and the d-Wave machine.

Re:D-Wave machine Quantum computer (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 8 months ago | (#46015227)

> under the principles of an adiabatic quantum computer

That's not true -- most of the nerds involved have type II diabetes.

Re:D-Wave machine Quantum computer (1)

Doomsought (3407379) | about 8 months ago | (#46017461)

Even calling the D-wave a computer is a bit of a stretch. Its an experiment on a computer chip.

Re:D-Wave machine Quantum computer (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 8 months ago | (#46017841)

Is the thing actually Turing complete (in the practical sense)?

Re: D-Wave machine Quantum computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46020159)

It is not.

Peer review pending... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46014333)

"The study has been submitted to a journal, but has not yet completed the peer review process to verify the findings."

Why are we reading this? Couldn't we simply wait for peer review?

Re:Peer review pending... (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 8 months ago | (#46016755)

Yes, we should. But we don't have reporters anymore, we have polemicists. Apologies to the few scientific reporters that still have honor.

New Resource Testing (1)

vortex2.71 (802986) | about 8 months ago | (#46014531)

People need to realize that this is not the government waste/quantum computing expose it is made out to be in this article. Whenever the supercomputing community comes out with a new resource, we test it and find the best algorithms for that resource. We have a long history of different algorithms working better for different resources. Take for instance, the transition from the Cray vector processors, to commodity Intel processors, then back to vector processors with the Earth Simulator, then back to Intel, then Cell processors, then CPUs. All of these required significant tweaking of our algorithms, which can take 5-10 years for the real work-horse codes to accomplish. In this case, the low hanging fruit lies in encryption, but other algorithms will find a niche in the quantum computing sector.

Have I misunderstood something (1)

f3rret (1776822) | about 8 months ago | (#46014813)

As I understand it, it's fairly common knowledge that a quantum computer wouldn't be that much faster than a normal computer in most cases. As I've heard it, there's only a few applications where a quantum computer would be significantly faster, the main one being the math required to crack RSA and other asymmetric encryption algorithms.

It could probably mine bitcoins stupidly fast too.

My independent study. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 8 months ago | (#46015377)

They could have saved themselves the trouble and just read the Wikipedia article. This has been known since at least 2007, according to one of the quotes there.

Re:My independent study. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46016135)

They could have saved themselves the trouble and just read the Wikipedia article. This has been known since at least 2007, according to one of the quotes there.

Many studies set out to nail down things that are widely suspected long before the definitive tests are made. Until you do your homework, your suspicions are just educated guesses, not science.

It's junk. (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | about 8 months ago | (#46015807)

Call us when there is a _single_ problem that D-Wave can solve faster than a computer costing 1/2 as much. In fact, 1/5th as much. Until then it's just sci-fi.

no fair!! (1)

Some_Llama (763766) | about 8 months ago | (#46016657)

I call bullshit!!

they obviously altered the performance of the computers by measuring their performance.

There are obviously two ways to look at this (4, Informative)

quax (19371) | about 8 months ago | (#46016697)

The Google Quantum AI lab puts this news into perspective [google.com] and I put my positive spin on it here [wavewatching.net] .

Having talked with one of the co-authors of the paper, he actually came away impressed at how far D-Wave has come in ten years. Although not yet far enough that I'd win my bet with him, that the D-Wave two could beat classical computing across the board.

So in short, yes, the BBC's reporting on quantum computing is atrocious. Not the first time either. [wavewatching.net]

Who needs peer review? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46017443)

Just publish it. If it's decent work, the media will know. /sarcasm

Too early, far too early (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46018541)

I don't mind the study authors trying to get a bead on this issue.

What I do mind is anyone, ANYONE thinking that actionable information can be achieved at this stage. Quantum computing is so new that, compared to classical computing, it's like we're in the late 1940's. Everything is still secret, the hardware engineers think that programming is "a minor problem", there is essentially no professional press or user groups, toolkits are years in the future yet, and the first public consciousness, still 5 years away, is that of a "giant brain".

In fact I'm in the business and I still don't know what D-Wave can actually supply to a paying customer. And I've read some of the available reports. What is it, really, that they offer? Some kind of a computational subsystem? Completely independent but primitive quantum computers? Hardware only? Some bundled development tools and sample code? Services? What?

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