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Scientists Dubious of Quantum Computing Claims

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the little-salt-with-your-quantum dept.

Science 107

Dollaz wrote with a link to the International Business Times, which questions the authenticity of D-Wave's Quantum computing. We discussed the 'Sudoku playing' computer yesterday, but scientists in the field have expressed a lot of distrust of the company's findings. The machine was not available for inspection during or after the demo, and even if the technology was working as intended there is some doubt that it can be scaled. The article points out that "notwithstanding lofty claims in the company's press release about creating the world's first commercial quantum computer, D-Wave Chief Executive Herb Martin emphasized that the machine is not a true quantum computer and is instead a kind of special-purpose machine that uses some quantum mechanics to solve problems." Good to see people in the field questioning 'breakthroughs'.

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107 comments

I Knew It! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18045392)

I knew something was up when it got stuck on a level four Sudoku.

And then when it coughed and 'had to take a smoke break.' I knew there was a reason no one could look at it.

Reply button missing (4, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046714)

Good to see people in the field questioning 'breakthroughs'.

This is an odd statement, because that's generally what people "in the field" do. The author says this as though it's unusual to see anybody questioning lofty claims. In fact, it's very common. The first slashdot article about this was met mostly with skepticism.

Note: Replying to this post, because I am not getting a "reply" button for the story itself. Anybody else experiencing this bug?

Re:Reply button missing (3, Informative)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046876)

There's a Reply link in the floating thingy.

Re:Reply button missing (1)

zsau (266209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18049334)

Re:Reply button missing (Score:5, Informative)
There's a Reply link in the floating thingy. [sic]

Mod modding +1 funny.

Re:Reply button missing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18046936)

Let me put it this way, Dave. The D-Wave series is the most reliable computer ever made. No D-Wave computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.

Stick that in your Sudoku and smoke it.

Re:Reply button missing (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046984)

The author says this as though it's unusual to see anybody questioning lofty claims.

That wasn't the author, that was Zonk. In a summary, anything not in blockquote tags was written by the posting "editor". Apart from that, I agree, that's the way it's supposed to work - someone makes a claim, experts in the field scrutinise and challenge it. The claim is either upheld, or refuted. That's science. Duh.

Lofty Goals (1)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18048754)

A lofty goal would be that I intend to climb a 20,000 foot peak. An idiotic assertion would be that I am a new kind of being able to climb such peaks at my leisure.

A quantum computer is a new sort of being.

The only possible explanation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18048840)

...is that those "people in the field" are obviously shills for Big Energy trying to deny the truth. I wonder how many pieces of silver they were paid to bury the fact that- [BANG!]

Maybe it'll work. Maybe it won't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18045402)

They won't be able to tell until they try.

Well DUH (4, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045408)

The machine was not available for inspection during or after the demo, ...

Yes ... that's how a quantum mechanical system works -- you look at it, you change it. I can imagine these guys in peer review, "Look, this double-slit [wikipedia.org] experiment of yours is really interesting and all, but we can't publish your results unless you record the photons going through EACH slot, on EACH time, otherwise, how do we know you're faking it?"

I kid, I kid. I think...

Re:Well DUH (5, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045540)

That's the real problem. Until they look, the computer is in a superpositon of being and not being a quantum processor. They're afraid to look, lest its probability field collapse into an eigenstate of "just marketing hype."

Re:Well DUH (1)

wetfeetl33t (935949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045684)

Do you mean to say there is some uncertainty?

Re:Well DUH (3, Informative)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046150)

Don't confuse the uncertainty of quantum collapse with the uncertainty of the Uncertainty Principle. They are two different concepts. The uncertainty principle derives from a mathematical truth (it would be true even if the world was not governed by quantum physics), whereas the uncertainty associated with wavefunction collapse is a true quantum effect unrelated to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

(The Uncertainty Principle is a consequence of the fact that momentum and position are dual-spaces of each other -- similar "uncertainty" principles arise, for the same reasons, in more mundane fields such as signal processing)

Re:Well DUH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18047306)

The uncertainty principle is a consequence of the operators used to find the expressions for momentum, energy and any other observable in quantum mechanics. If you find the momentum of a particle then it is expressed as a sum of functions for the position of that particle (Superposition). If you then take the standard deviation of the momentum of that particle the result is a function inversely proportional to how well you know the position.
You will see the same effect for any pair of noncommuting operators.
Here is the relevant wikipedia article The Uncertanity Principle[wikipedia.org]

Re:Well DUH (1)

ynososiduts (1064782) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045738)

It's the Schrödinger quantum procesor!

Re:Well DUH (5, Funny)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046416)

One ptototype Schrödinger box for sale - cat may or may not be included.

Re:Well DUH (3, Funny)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 7 years ago | (#18047862)

One ptototype Schrödinger box for sale - cat may or may not be included.

If it's a Schrödinger box then the cat's included all right... the open issue is that you may or may not be having burgers for lunch.

Re:Well DUH (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18050166)

"One ptototype Schrödinger box for sale - cat may or may not be included."

I think "Pick a box" may actually have been the first quantum game show, wadya reckeon?

Re:brilliant (1)

noigmn (929935) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046324)

That is one of the most classic posts I've seen. You got some help from the post before in getting to the idea. But still...it's brilliant!

Maybe I don't understand... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046992)

...but looking once collapses it, but you can look again and it'll collapse a different way, right? For instance, electrons -- look once and it's in one place, look again and it's somewhere else.

So, can't they just put together "just marketing hype", then turn their backs, close their eyes, and shoot the marketers who actually understand the hype, so it'll uncollapse into a probability field again, then turn around and have a chance of it being finished?

You know, kind of like how the finite probability drive was used to construct the infinite improbability drive...

Re:Maybe I don't understand... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18048474)

Once you 'collapse' it (which I assume you have taken from the statement that observing a quantity collapses its wave function) future observations will all yield the same result. The probability function becomes zero for every value but the observed.

for instance, if the probability function was a gaussian distribution, You could think of "collapse" as reducing the width until it became a delta function. [wolfram.com]

Re:Well DUH (5, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045690)

There is a universe somewhere in which you did not make that joke. And some luckier copy of me gets to live in that universe.

Re:Well DUH (1)

sctaylorcan (1003944) | more than 7 years ago | (#18049208)

There is a universe somewhere in which you did not make that joke. And some luckier copy of me gets to live in that universe.

There is a further universe somewhere in which the GP post was modded funny instead of insightful. Some luckier copies of all of us live there. Oh, and some more insightful moderators too :)

Thats my problem with the press release, too: (3, Informative)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045424)

"instead a kind of special-purpose machine that uses some quantum mechanics to solve problems."

Well, _any_ mosfet based transitor uses quantum mechanics to solve problems (you get real problems explaining band-formation and the influence of substrate doting classically). That statement is trimmed down to be as slippery as possible.

Re:Thats my problem with the press release, too: (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045786)

I said this computer was snake oil when I saw it and I stand by this.
Here is my take on their quantum computer,

They have a device which contains a collection of cells of liquidy stuff.
They start each cell out at a different temperature to represent the different states in the input array.
They then drop the temperature further and see where the collective group ends up.
Wave height or combined temperature or something other measurable (measuring though interrupts the cells hence making another measurement invalid).

For each calculation you have to carefully configure the cell parameters to the inputs and stabilise the environment.
You then begin cooling in a very balanced rate.

Another take would be like having a round bowl and placing balls around the edge (at different heights to reflect inputs) then letting them go at the same time and watching where a single target ball placed in the centre ends up (after bouncing around for a while).

Both these rely on quantum elements as does your example and they can all be considered quantum computers in a sense but you can only perform one single specific type of calculation on them.

I doubt we will ever see a computer that can see into the future and guess what result you want to any equation just by feeding it data.
Each problem requires a formula and different utilisation of data and I believe we hold most hope in computing power with simple massively parallel processors (as similar are currently being considered by Intel and Amd).

My recent quantum analysis reveals (1)

Todamont (1034534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18049294)

that God DOES play dice, and she prefers 7 or 11 combos, with hard 8's approximately 1.618% of the time. Solid state physics is just her way of gaming us.

We could tell you if it works... (-1, Redundant)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045446)

...we could tell you if it works, but then we'd have to decide whether or not we killed this cat.

How to verify their claims? (2, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045450)

How would you?

I'm legitimately curious. Such a device has never been built, how do these guys prove they have one? They say themselves they aren't certain if it's quantum-ing up the sudoku.

Re:How to verify their claims? (3, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045652)

Such a device has never been built, how do these guys prove they have one?
As Scott Aaronson said [scottaaronson.com] , they could prove it by producing the prime factors of a 463-digit composite number.

Re:How to verify their claims? (4, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046294)

I think Aaronson has unfortunately done only half his homework. A 16 qit computer can't solve that problem (not fast anyway).

Re:How to verify their claims? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18047584)

prime_factors(10^462) = (2*5)^462

There, my quantum computer did that. Do I win?

Re:How to verify their claims? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 7 years ago | (#18048072)

They prove it by showing that its not just something more normal. We know what we know, if this is what they say then it, then it is something we don't know. That would be the beginning of proof.

As someone once said... (1)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 7 years ago | (#18049030)

"if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Uncertainty? (5, Funny)

Quila (201335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045486)

He said all the evidence the company has indicates that the device is performing quantum computations, but he acknowledged there is some uncertainty.

Time to check the cat.

Re:Uncertainty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18048482)

Time to check the cat.
Why risk killing the world's only Sudoku solving cat? Or the midget they have in there feeding him the special quantum cat food?

He kind of has a point... (2, Insightful)

Talgrath (1061686) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045490)

He kind of has a point in that, even if it isn't a "true" quantum computer and it simply uses some quantum processes, it doesn't matter a whole lot to the people interested in buying it. They're more interested in the power to do stuff they can't right now. That being said, the fact that they aren't willing to show the machine to scientists makes me question whether this machine actually uses quantum processes.

puzzles (1)

neurostar (578917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045552)

They're more interested in the power to do stuff they can't right now.

They should get the Sudoku books with the easier puzzles!

Re:He kind of has a point... (4, Interesting)

Sam Nitzberg (242911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046496)

Direct test for a quantum computer:
Solve any problem polynomially reducable to SAT/3-SAT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boolean_satisfiabili ty_problem)
without the use of heuristic algorithms. Further, show it being done in polynomial-time with respect to the problem size.

Naturally, the machine and program would also have to be subject to inspection to show that it wasn't just spitting out a canned response to a problem already worked on and answered by a team of supercomputers elsewhere....

Fortunately, checking the result won't take too long. The check should be calculable on a conventional computer in polynomial-time.

Re:He kind of has a point... (3, Interesting)

cpeikert (9457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18048460)

Solve any problem polynomially reducable to SAT/3-SAT

You have your reducibility direction mixed up: even really easy problems (like sorting, or outputting "2") are reducible to SAT. It's the hard problems that SAT reduces to.

Not that this matters, because quantum computing is very unlikely to be able to solve NP-complete problems. It does seem to help with very structured problems like factoring, though. No, factoring is (almost definitely) not NP-complete.

Further, show it being done in polynomial-time with respect to the problem size.

Polynomial-time is an asymptotic notion. It can't be verified for a particular problem size (or finite set of problem sizes). It is purely an analytical concept, not an experimental/testable one.

TOTALLY WRONG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18050008)

That post is totally and completely wrong. Quantum computers as commonly discussed have nothing to do with np-complete problems. But worse, solving a SAT problem does not prove anything about the efficiency of the solver, most SAT problems are solvable extremely quickly using dynamic programming. Proving that a particular SAT problem is 'hard' to solve would require a proof that P=NP, which has never been done. All that can be done by demonstration alone is solving a large set of previously unsolved SAT problems which would indicate that the device has utility, proving it can solve np-complete efficiently would require..a proof! And, since this device has only 16 qubits, it can never actually demonstrate anything deep about np-complete problems.

Re:He kind of has a point... (4, Informative)

TMacPhail (519256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046692)

I went to the Vancouver demo of this yesterday and it is pretty clear why they couldn't have it available for inspection at an event like this. It is located in a specially shielded room in their lab to reduce signal noise with a cooling system that cools a portion of the computer down to 4mK (extremely close to absolute zero).

Besides, even if I or anyone else there was able to inspect it, do you really think that we could look at it and say "hey, I don't see any quantum effects"

I like this quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18045496)

"Until we see more actual measurements, it's hard to know whether they succeeded or not," said Phil Kuekes, a computer architect in the Quantum Science Research Group at Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP Labs.

Well duh! Measuring it actually changes whether it succeeded or not.

Uncertainty? (4, Funny)

nonpareility (822891) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045512)

He said all the evidence the company has indicates that the device is performing quantum computations, but he acknowledged there is some uncertainty.
Sounds like a joke that flew over the reporter's head.

Good blog responses (4, Interesting)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045570)

Quantum computing researcher Scott Aaronson wrote some good anti-hype pieces about the D-Wave PR here [scottaaronson.com] and here [scottaaronson.com] , focusing on their incorrect marketing claims to be able to solve NP-complete problems in polynomial time. The first link also has an update with comments from Lawrence Ip of Google, who clarifies what the D-Wave people are really claiming.

They didn't do what they said they did (4, Insightful)

QEDog (610238) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046372)

There are several things to note about the announcement. First, the emphasis was on selling that this computer can solve NP-Complete problems, something that it is, to say the least, not right. An adiabatic quantum computer, such as the one they claim they had, cannot "solve" NP-complete problems. It can at most give a quadratic improvement, at most. They didn't even showed that the did this. Solving a particular instance of an NP-complete problem (such as the 9x9 sudoku) does NOT mean that you can solve an NP-comp problem. Either they lied, or there were intenionally using language that was not very precise to give the wrong impression. So the things that they said they can do cannot be done.

What did they do? Nobody knows. They were very careful to evade the important question: what did they actually accomplish? They never mentioned qubit decoherence times, fidelity, nothing. These are things they can claim without compromising the trade secrets. They gave a lot of emphasis to saying that the computer is part a classical computer, and part a quantum computer, something that nobody really cares about. What is important is to spell out exactly what was the part of the problem the quantum computer solved.

The CTO has a blog, and he sounds very competent in it. I'm guessing that he just had a lot or pressure from the investors to show *something*. It was just a big show to get some Venture Capitals. Pretty graphics and tech demos are cool for getting fans for videogame consoles and getting VC only, not so much as to make scientific claims.

Re:They didn't do what they said they did (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046630)

I thought that NP-Complete problems can be generalised to one-another, so if a solution can be found for one NP-Complete problem then it can be generalised for all. Doesn't this mean that other NP-Complete problems can be generalised to Sudoku?

Re:They didn't do what they said they did (1)

1984 (56406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046896)

It's that a given limited Sudoku doesn't demonstrate the ability to solve an arbitrarily large Sudoku in finite time, not that Sudoku as a problem isn't equivalent to other problems computationally.

Misconceptions about NP-Completeness (4, Interesting)

et764 (837202) | more than 7 years ago | (#18048222)

Depending on what you mean by "solve," I think you are a little mistaken on what it means for a problem to be NP-Complete. NP-Complete problems are actually relatively easy to solve. For example, take 3SAT, were you have a bunch of boolean variables, x[1] through x[n], and then a bunch of string of clauses ANDed together, as in (x[1] OR x[2] OR NOT x[3]) AND (x[24] OR NOT x[37] OR x[42]) ... To solve 3SAT you just have to tell me whether there exists some combination of variables such that the expression is true. You can just enumerate all 2^n possible combinations of variable assignments and see if any of them work out to be true. The problem is, it doesn't take very large values of n before it will take you longer than the time civilization has been around to try all the combinations. 3SAT is easy to solve, if you just want an answer. What's still an open question is whether we can come up with an algorithm that can solve it efficiently, where efficiently means in O(n^k) time for some k, rather than O(2^n).

For a problem that actually can't be solved, try the Halting Problem.

Now, the cool thing about NP-Complete problems is that any other problem that's known to be in NP (meaning we can solve them, just some instances will take a ridiculous amount of time to do so) can be efficiently transormed, meaning transformed in polynomial time, into an NP-Complete problem. This means if you can really solve general instances of Sudoku in polynomial time, you can take an instance of the 3SAT problem, efficiently transform it into an instance of Sudoku, then efficiently solve the Sudoku problem and then transform the answer into a solution to the 3SAT problem. If they have really built such a machine, this is a big deal.

Arr! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18045588)

Oh Zonk. You with your 'scare quotes' and 'peer review' and 'skepticism.'

Marketing department at work... (2, Interesting)

viking2000 (954894) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045594)

Let me guess: It is a regular computer that solves a regular problem the regular way. One function needed is a number generator.

You could pick any device that returns different numbers at different times. It could be a microphone, a geiger counter, a clock og a quantum device

Now pick the quantum device, and call the whole device a "Quantum computer"

This is normal in marketing departments. The only unusual thing here is that they got the engineering department to go with them.

Maybe, but... (4, Insightful)

Flimzy (657419) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045612)

Maybe it's not a true quantum "computer", but is that bad? The first electronic "problem solving machines" weren't true computers, either. That doesn't mean that this "custom" quantum machine isn't a useful step in the right direction...

Re:Maybe, but... (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 7 years ago | (#18048620)



If you write that you have a quantum computer it is bad if you have none.

If you dont claim it it does not matter.

If you stampede as the companies founder in his blog over the "gate model" and implicitly claim that the rest of the community does not get it right because they are trying complicated things to get qubits working, while you use a quick and dirty "simple" approach (which in QC usually can never work), the level of authenticity which the community demands from your Experiments *will be higher* than normal.

One should separate two things: DWave probalby has something interesting, very technological, to demonstrate that, as soon as the problems in superconducting QC are solved, the possibility to implement it is close. This keeps their patents monetary value high enogh to be interesting for investors. From the scientific viewpoint the interpretation which they make public is as I said (see likns to comments below) does not make their quantum computer very authentic.

What they write could be translated to: Vacuum impedance? Sorry we use AQC and ignore it. Two level fluctuators in the Barriers of the commercially available Josephson junctions/Capacitors? We ignore them. Spectroscopic data to prove Quantum effects? This is for groups who try to get Qubits working. For us the whole picture is more important.

As I said (see comments in the links): Before I make my opinion about the system I'd like to see a detailed publication on it, and I am - contrary to some other people in the community - willing to settle my mind only then about it (although this would probably be different if I would have to write proposals which are in direct concurrence with DWave.).

I do want to repeat myself, so I just post links to comments I wrote on the ealier news:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=222540&cid=180 26304 [slashdot.org]

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=221306&cid=179 34696 [slashdot.org]

Re:Maybe, but... (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18049880)

Define a "true" computer

You realise that a computer was originally the name given to a person who worked out the mathematics of a set problem. There used to be rooms full of "computers", scratching away with pencils on paper. So really, any problem solving device is a true computer. And by that definition, an electronic problem solving machine is a true computer. So, what do *you* mean by "true" computer ?

They're just jealous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18045668)

It's like I always say: "science" is the enemy of capitalism. It's the same way with this global warming hysteria.

Dubious Scientists (1)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045710)

I've never liked the use of dubious to denote a state of mind. If this is correct

The claims were dubious...
what the heck is this supposed to mean?

The scientists were dubious...
Merriam-Webster approves the use, but I would avoid it. How about "Scientists Skeptical of Quantum Computing Claims"?

Hey, if you're not anal retentive, you have no business being a programmer.

Re:Dubious Scientists (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046176)

Seems as though it's one of those wonderful English portmanteaus. The OED has no problems with it being used to refer to the claims themselves and the scientists' views of those claims. At least it's not a nonstandard English flutzpah.

Re:Dubious Scientists (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046214)

At least it's not a nonstandard English flutzpah.

      In fact, it's a perfectly cromulent word.

Future Slashdot Editors? (1)

joecm (16636) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045774)

Good to see people in the field questioning 'breakthroughs'.
Maybe they can moonlight as slashdot editors. Or maybe not. :)

I've been saying for ages it's a scam (4, Interesting)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045790)

It's the electronic equivalent of using soap bubbles to solve the traveling salesman problem. For simple problems you really can use soap bubbles because soap bubbles like to form minimal surfaces. This 'quantum' computer does something similar - it uses a form of annealing to find the minimum of some function with the energy representing the function you're trying to minimise. Cool the system and you find what that minimum energy is. But soap bubbles don't scale.

So the first part of the scam is this: even if this device wasn't a quantum device at all it would still work to some extent because when you allow systems to cool they fall into lower energy states. If the 'quantum' aspect of things works then it might find that state faster, but without careful monitoring there's no way of telling if the 'quantumness' had anything to do with what it did. In fact, for large systems we know that it won't be very 'quantum' at all because it will interact with its environment and decohere. But it's a perfect strategy for designing a machine that you can claim is quantum, when it isn't. It stinks of scam.

Secondly: suppose you want to solve a challenging problem with this device. For example you want to search some space for a miniumum of some sort. For this machine to be effective the state space must be pretty large or else you could use a regular classical computer. Consider a billion state problem (quite small really for combinatorial problems). You have to be able to get a system to settle into the minimum energy state despite the fact that there are a billion states nearby all of which have almost the same energy. Just the tiniest input of energy and it'll jump up from that minimum. There is absolutely no way that they can search a large enough state space and still have the minimum energy state sufficiently far from other states.

BTW This device is quite different from what is conventionally meant by a 'quantum computer', it's more like a quantum, analog computer.

Real and useful 'digital' quantum computers are a long way off. I expect that the size of quantum computers will grow by a bit or so per year at the most. (When I say 'bit' I mean total memory, not the size of the bus.)

Re:I've been saying for ages it's a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18047736)

Thanks for your post.

It's the electronic equivalent of using soap bubbles to solve the traveling salesman problem.

...it's more like a quantum, analog computer.

I've had the same thoughts, but I've been too lazy to formulate them into a post. I wouldn't have done it as well as you have, either.

Unless your points are convincingly refuted I agree it looks like a scam, or a least a vast overstatement of what has been achieved.

Sudoku (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045824)

I thought they already had a conventional algorithm that could solve Sudoku without utilizing quantum effects?

I'm very skeptical about the whole concept of utilizing quantum effects to solve problems. It's an interesting idea, utilizing the structure of the universe to tell us what we want to know, but it may not be at all practical. Nature doesn't seem to have utilized the method, and since it evolves molecule-sized structures it ought to be in the position to do so.

I think that, when we're done playing with the concepts, we'll discover that qubits tend to interfere with each other, and that there's a horrible limit to how much can be achieved in quantum computing.

Re:Sudoku (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18045916)

A normal computer can solve A Sudoku puzzle.

A QM computer solves every sudoku puzzle was, every sudoku puzzle that is, and every sudoku puzzle that could be. All at the same time. You then have to discard every puzzle that isn't the puzzle you want the QM to solve to arrive at the answer.

Re:Sudoku (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18046410)

That doesn't seem right. If you hardcode a specific sudoku, how can the QM computer generalize from that what a general sudoku puzzle would be? To generalize even further, why didn't you say that a QM computer answers every possible question all at the same time, you then discard the answers you were not looking for?

Re:Sudoku (2, Interesting)

austior (1063772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045982)

I thought they already had a conventional algorithm that could solve Sudoku without utilizing quantum effects?
Quantum computers can only solve problems that conventional algorithms can solve. Potentially, they could solve them faster.

Nature doesn't seem to have utilized the method
There are a lot of useful things nature hasn't discovered, like wheels (macro sized) and transistors. The nervous system doesn't take advantage of ANY molecular scale computation, so how could it build a quantum computer?

Re:Sudoku (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18047002)

Depends how you define a wheel. Wheel with axel connected to drive mechanism? No. But tumbleweed can roll for hundreds of miles. And the neurons in your brain amplify small electrical signals into larger ones. Just like a transistor. (though, the mechanism is vastly different)

Re:Sudoku (1)

BillX (307153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18047036)

You're right. I have two friends who have written Sudoku solvers for the hell of it. One in Java, one in (gack!) Matlab. I don't think it's a good demo application of a quantum computer, unless it's a fake quantum computer created by the marketing department. ("It has Transistors, which use QM effects! Take that, FTC!")

it better work (2, Funny)

friedman101 (618627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045856)

I, for one, really hope quantum computing works out. If we can harness the powers of quantum physics into a microchip maybe someday I'll be able to run aero glass.

Article makes things seems worse (2, Interesting)

aditi (707829) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045914)

Scientists are skeptical because it hasn't been submitted for peer review. Yes, but that's true for any new scientific discovery. It's not entirely fair to spin that into "this quantum computer might not really work".
Also, while the article claims it might not be a "true quantum computer", it never really says how that's different from a "computer that uses quantum mechanics to solve certain problems", and given its audience, can't possibly expect its readers to know. To me, this just sounds like journalists looking for something to hype about.

Re:Article makes things seems worse (1)

Hannibal12 (1065174) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046924)

The basic article was also picked up by the CBC today. I was at the Vancouver show and left it very sceptical. Right now, I am more than prepared to wait for the independent peer review to determine precise what D Wave has developed and what precisely it can do.

Scientists Dubious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18045928)

Hey, if the scientists are dubious about this, do what other have done. Just start calling them holocaust deniers, that'll keep people from speaking up and cut off the debate. It worked for Global Warming, it'll work for this.

So, is this the right place.... (3, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18045978)

Is this the right place to plug my animated JavaScript sudoku solver [fennecfoxen.org] ? Guaranteed 100% Non-Vaporware! Inspect it all you like!

:)

drama queen media doing its thing again (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046010)

The media is always trying to spice things up. Statements like "we are attempting to build a quantum computer" and "we ran 100 tests and had 1 good result, which could've been chance" get warped into "quamtum computer built" and "quantum computer shows promise, produces results". The media as a whole isn't biased left or right, but they are biased towards sensationalism. There doesn't seem to be any easy way to introduce a little more restraint and fact checking into their reporting that doesn't just make things worse. Just live with it like we've been doing. Helps if honest scientists do better at handling the media, but there's so much reward for sensational results it's hard to resist the temptations. The media could help with more scepticism, but they too have temptations. As for the dishonest scientists, well, that's just more sensational news when they're found out. File it away with Cold Fusion, miraculous Stem Cell research, and Perpetual Motion.

Re:drama queen media doing its thing again (1)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18046504)

Sorry to rain on your damn-the-media parade, but these exact claims were made by the company, presentations and all. In this case the media really wasn't hyping anything, the examples D-wave showed during their presentation however did seem more like a PR-stunt than scientific research. Could be wrong though, IANAQCS.


Anything for the VC.

I guess your only allowed to question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18046354)

what hasn't been decided by consensus eh?

bad science? (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 7 years ago | (#18047062)

Good to see people in the field questioning 'breakthroughs'.
Well, have there been any peer reviewed papers published in journals with good reputation? If not, we have here the number one sign of bogus science [chronicle.com] : The discoverer pitches his claim directly to the media and questioning is the only reasonable attitude. For me, they lost it when they announced that the presentation was going to be remote, that the actual machine would not be in the room where the presentation was held. Yeah, so you haven't actually got one, have you? Cheers and see ya.

Uncertainty (1)

Physician (861339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18047738)

They aren't sure if the computer is really utilizing quantum mechanics. Whenever they study the computer, they end up changing it. *bada bum!* Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Gee, You Think? (1)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 7 years ago | (#18048294)

It said right in the Wired "news" article that video was given from a remote site with the lame excuse that it too fragile to move on. Anyone with half a clue knows what that means. Wired should have never reported it as news and Slashdot should never have linked it as an article. It's not news when someone doesn't not present the machine, it's just bullshit. Have some editorial discretion, please.

Re:Gee, You Think? (2, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18049424)

Well, the thing is, a _real_ quantum computer would also be to fragile to move. Thats a reality in ultra-low-temperature equipment of the needed sensitivity.

And still, even if they were on-site, if they wanted to cheat, how would you check that its really the QC that does the calculations? Even if there is a cable going into it, who says the real data didnt elsewhere? Or somebody put a laptop somewhere inside the QC?

There is simply no way to verify the claim without taking the whole assembly apart, which of course would be impossible on a single prototype.

(just saying. I dont believe their claims either, but your argument isnt as good as you think it is)

They didn't hire me so they must know something (4, Interesting)

Jay 78 (1065226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18048416)

I actually interviewed with these guys a few months back. I can tell you I was quite impressed with the facility and they came off as very bright. I also got a tour of the facility so I'll share what I know. The chip core is stored in a large tank roughly 2m tall and cooled to very very near absolute zero. That is then held inside what is in essence a very large faraday cage. All the refrigeration and electronic equipment is kept outside with only passive sensors allowed in the room wherever possible. Apparently electrical noise and stray heat has been a huge hurdle. From what I understood they saw themselves as building chips that would be housed on site and used remotely so it doesn't surprise me that they didn't have a setup that was available for public viewing. The company culture was essentially work till you drop and hope the stock options make you rich.
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