Quantum Computing Becoming A Reality – Leading To Quantum Cloud Hosting
D-Wave, a company that made the controversial claim that they have built the first world’s first quantum computer, got a big boost recently when researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) announced that they have confirmed that the machine is not utilizing “simulated annealing,” which was the leading theory of how the machine worked according to detractors who insisted that the computer could not possibly be a true quantum computer.
Quantum computing has been something of the holy grail of computing since it was first proposed in 1985 by British theoretical physicist David Deutsch. Unlike a classical computer which processes data on a transistor with a “bit” that can be “on” or “off” to yield the series of “1s” or “0s” used to create binary code – a quantum computer would operate according to the strange principles of quantum mechanics which counter-intuitively allow data to exist in two states at once known as a “qubit” rather than a bit. In essence, a qubit can be a “0” and a “1” simultaneously under a rule known as the superposition principle of quantum mechanics. So, if a qubit can store a “0” and “1” simultaneously, and you add another qubit, they can hold four values at the same time: 00, 01, 10, and 11. As more qubits are added to the string, you end up with a computer that is exponentially more powerful than anything achievable with a conventional computer.
In theory quantum computers would solve combinatorial optimization problems. The classic example is figuring out the most efficient route for a traveling salesman going to multiple destinations. There’s no mathematical shortcut that conventional computers can take to solve combinatorial optimization problems. They are forced to run all possible combinations and determine the best path after all the calculation are complete. The problem with this approach is that the number of combinations rises exponentially with the number of variables. If there are six destinations, there are 64 possible combinations, 8 destinations have a total of 40,320 combinations, and with 20 destinations, the number explodes to 1,048,576 combinations.
D-Waves quantum computer is designed to handle as many as 512 variables, which results in a number of combinations that are outside the realm of possibility for any computer bound to the rules of classical physics, as the number of combinations is reportedly larger than the number of atoms in the universe, though we’re taking the scientist’s word for that, we haven’t counted them all ourselves.
According to its maker, the D-Wave machine contains 512 superconducting circuits, each a tiny loop of flowing current. These are cooled to almost absolute zero, so they enter a quantum state where the current flows both clockwise and counterclockwise at the same time. When you feed the machine a task, it uses a set of algorithms to map a calculation across these qubits and then executes that calculation. What emerges after the temperature is raised is the solution. If it sounds a bit like magic, it’s due to the very strange properties at play in quantum mechanics, though it has immense real world applications.
Lockheed Martin gave D-Wave a sample problem to solve, a bug in its F-16 software that had taken a team of their best engineers on classical computers months to track down, and the D-wave machine allegedly located it much more quickly. So quickly in fact that Lockheed Martin bought a D-Wave machine with a price range reported to be 15 million dollars.
Until recently, outsiders presumed the D-Wave machine was using a traditional computational process known as “simulated annealing” which in layman’s terms involves tunneling through data and attempting to predict the most likely outcomes. Now a peer reviewed scientific journal article titled Experimental Signature of Programmable Quantum Annealing has now been published in the well-respected academic journal Nature Communications and seems to completely disprove that assumption. Stopping short of proclaiming the D-Wave a true quantum computer, the paper does prove it is not using simulated annealing and moves the machine one step closer to full recognition.
The applications for this technology are nearly limitless. In addition to the aforementioned route planning, they include things like image recognition, genome sequence analysis, protein folding, scheduling, and risk analysis of the sort that high frequency stock traders rely on. So far defense contractor Lockheed Martin in partnership with USC and Google in partnership with NASA have bought D-wave machines.
D-Wave is also planning to launch a “Quantum Cloud,” in addition to selling it’s computers outright. With this service massive amounts of data will flow, providing near-instant solutions to remote computers, without the customer having to purchase or maintain the complicated and expensive super-cooled machines.
On the brink of a whole new kind of digital revolution, NationalNet will continue to keep pace with each technological advance, and stands ready for the onslaught of data that will necessarily accompany each advancement of the Fully Managed Hosting, providing our clients and their customers with the efficient bandwidth and data transfer speed that have made NationalNet the leader in modern hosting solutions presently and a forward thinking collocation partner for all of your hosting service needs.