Headline, November 23 2023/ ''' QUANTUM STUDENTS QUANDARY '''




2014 : A TEAM INCLUDING MATTHIIAS TROYER, an internationally respected professor of computational physics at ETH Zurich, attempted to clarify things with a report based on an extensive series of tests pitting Google's -

D-Wave Two against classical computers solving randomly chosen problems. Verdict? To quote from the study : 

'' We find no evidence of quantum speedup when the entire data set is considered and obtain inconclusive results when comparing subsets of instances on an instance by instance basis.'' This has, not surprisingly, generally been interpreted as a conspicuous failure for D-Wave.

But where quantum computing is concerned, there always seems to be room for disagreement. Hartmut Neven, the director of engineering who runs Google's quantum computing project, argues that the tests weren't a failure at all -

That in one class of problem, the D-Wave Two outperformed the classical computers in a way that suggests quantum effects were in play. '' There you see essentially what we were after,'' he says.

''There you see an exponentially widening gap between simulated annealing and quantum annealing ...... That's great news, but so far nobody has paid attention to it.'' Meanwhile, two other papers published in January make the case that a] D-Wave's chip does demonstrate entanglement and b] the test used the wrong kind of problem and was therefore meaningless anyway.

For now pretty much everybody at least agrees that it's impressive that a chip as radically new as D-Wave's could even achieve parity with conventional hardware.

The attitude in D-Wave's C cuite toward all this back and forth is, unsurprisingly, dismissive. 

'' The people that really understand what we're doing aren't skeptical,'' says Brownell. Rose is equally calm about it; all that wrestling must have left him with a thick skin. 

''Unfortunately,'' he says, ''like all discourse on the internet, it tends to be driven by a small number of people that are both vocal and not necessarily the most informed.'' He's content to let the products prove themselves or not.

'' It's fine,'' he says. '' It's good. Science progresses by rocking the ship. Things like this are a necessary component of forward progress.''

ARE D-WAVE'S MACHINES QUANTUM COMPUTERS? Fortunately this is one of those scenarios where an answer will in fact become apparent at some point in the next five or so years, as D-Wave punches out a couple more generations of computers and better benchmarking techniques evolve and we either do see a significant quantum speeding or we don't.

The company has a lot of ground to cover between now and then, not just in hardware but on the software side too. Generations of programmers have had decades to create a rich software ecosystem around classical microprocessors in order to wring the maximum possible amount of usefulness out of them.

But an adiabatic quantum computer is a totally new proposition. '' You just don't program them the way you program other things,'' says William `Macready, D-Wave's VP of software engineering. ''It's not about writing recipes or procedures. It's more about kind of describing, What does it mean to be an answer? And doing that in the right way and letting the hardware figure it out.''

For now the answer is itself suspended, aptly enough, in a state of superposition, somewhere between  yes and no. If the machines can do anything like what D-Wave is predicting, they won't leave many fields untouched.

'' I think we'll look back on the first time a quantum computer outperformed classical computing as a historic milestone,'' Brownell says. '' It's a little grand, but we're kind of like Intel and Microsoft in 1977, at the dawn of a new computing era.''

But D-Wave won't have the field to itself forever. IBM has its own quantum-computing group, Microsoft has two. There are dozens of academic laboratories busily pushing the envelope, all in pursuit of the computational equivalent of splitting the atom.

While he's got only 20 qubits now, Monroe points out that the trends are good : that's up from two bits 20 years ago and four bits 10 years ago. 

'' Soon we will cross the boundary where there's no way to model what's happening using regular computers,'' he says, '' and that will be exciting.''

With respectful dedication to the Global Founder Framers of !WOW! and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See You all prepare for Great Global  Elections : wssciw.blogspot.com and    Twitter X !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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