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Why do companies buy D-Wave quantum computers?

Lithography mask for quantum computer with D-wave.
Quantum computers are probably the most misunderstood by emerging technologies, which makes sense, because their foundations rely on the most difficult. to understand the concepts of physics. This has led to people making some funny assertions, as if they are giving you "God-like powers" and that they are "an imminent threat."

Neither is it true ̵

1; the main applications for quantum computers are at least a few decades away, and the great fear that quantum algorithms will miss out on popular encryption strategies is probably several decades. However, experts say we have entered a new era of quantum computers and companies have begun to place commercial products. IBM has recently announced a device that is available to a commercial audience, and other companies such as Google, Rigetti and IonQ will now or soon be offering access to cloud-based quantum processors. Meanwhile, NASA, Lockheed Martin, and Los Alamos National Lab have already purchased thousands of cubic quantum computers for about 10 million to 15 million dollars from a smaller and more recent company, which we sometimes overlook, called D-Wave. You may wonder why people will buy such an expensive device when technology is at an early stage.

"Most of them are still research and experimental," said Bo Ewald, president of D-Wave International, for Gizmodo. "No production apps yet."

So why use one of these computers? We have put this issue to researchers using D-Wave computers at Lockheed Martin, Los Alamos National Lab, Volkswagen and elsewhere. In short, D-Wave computers are in their early days, but these organizations hope to use them to solve problems such as forecasting choices, routing taxis in congestion, or selecting important background noise data. They want to begin to approach these puzzles of quantum computing thinking as early as possible. No one yet claims to have found the killer application that will bring quantum computing power to the masses. And while D-Wave demonstrates that it can really simulate quantum mechanics, other machines can perform similar tasks faster. But if these researchers continue to refine their ideas, they will be ready for the day when any future D-Wave machine or any other quantum computer can deliver real benefits. Quantum computers, in general, are computers that use "cubic" or quantum bits instead of ordinary bits to make their calculations. The bits can accept zero or one, like a magnet that may point either north or south. Qubits have to take zero and one value when their calculations are completed, but during calculations they can take values ​​at first glance between them, interacting with other cubes through mathematics of subatomic particles – each cubite is rather a series of inverting magnets from strips. , The algorithm defines the final value, which may be one or several combinations of these zeros and units. Some combinations of zeros and ones are more likely, and others are banned based on this quantum math.

"I was thinking that instead of talking about it, let's try some problems to test it."

Most quantum-tech companies such as Google, Rigetti, IBM and IonQ – but not D-Wave – aim for quantum computers on the neck model. This means that the cubes are set in circuits like regular bits, and they get instructions on how to interact with each other in the form of "gates", individual quantum-mechanical operations. D-Wave is instead a "quantum anion". Imagine again those magnets represented in D-Wave as circuits of a superconducting conductor through which the current can move clockwise or vice versa. Now all the magnets are turned into an external electric and magnetic field. Ultimately, everyone will be reconciled with some preference, the lowest energy orientation. They are useful for a smaller and specific set of calculations.

There is a quantum aspect to it. If the combined magnets find an energy configuration that is nearly as low as possible, but for which some barriers prevent them from reaching the actual lowest state, the classic computer can stop the algorithm there. But in the quantum computer, the cubes can still turn into a state of the lowest energy. This is called "quantum tunneling". This is the equivalent of a marble in a jar at a table that decides that it will rather be on the floor, and is only possible in the quantum area. The machine actually performs many counting and counting calculations per second, continuously improving things until it comes out with the lowest possible energy responses.

The machine itself looks more or less like a supercomputer – a large black box with a size closet that holds the small chip in the cold. Like a supercomputer, those who would like to have access to D-Wave are connected to the processor via a connection from their own computer that will have software used to power the D-Wave instructions and receive outputs

built-in computers with 128, 512, 1000 and now 2048 cubes. They are prone to errors, and cubes can easily break into ordinary bits. There is a lot of controversy around them, mainly by people who think that D-Wave is resizing its device – and nowadays people are less impressed with the number of cubes than their controllability or whether they can remain quantum for a long time without to degrade. Computers can only perform calculations that can be translated into the example of inverting the magnetic field above. There is evidence, but not undisputable proof that these computers can defeat the classical computers that are trying to solve such problems. D-Wave cubes can very easily lose their quantum behavior due to interference from the outside environment.

But even with these warnings, many companies and researchers have shown interest. Maria Spiropulu, a physicist from the Large Hadron Collider and CalTech, used Lockheed Martin's D-Wave, stored in CalTech, to identify the bisexual bosons in the data on the Large Hadron Collider. She and her team even created a D-Wave device simulation that others can use to see if their problem is worth trying to solve a real D wave.

"The interest in me was whether I could get new solutions that I would not get from other machines, or get to the neighborhood with a quicker decision," says Spiroupoulou. "I thought instead of talking about it, let's try some problems to try it out." as predicted whether there is sand or clay underground. Senior Data Scientist Max Henderson, at the launch of QxBranch, used D-Wave to re-model the 2016 election. David Sahner, chief scientist at Starter, called EigenMed, hopes to deliver better health outcomes by using D-Wave to predict what health problems he may have but does not know. Volkswagen researchers are trying to optimize road traffic and have recently used the D-Wave computer to solve a chemical problem, something people are already doing on IBM's quantum computers.

All of these problems have something in common: many issues related to two options, such as "diabetes or not," "whether the earth is made of clay or sand," whether it will vote for Democrats or Republicans, or " on this path or not. "element of chance. Each of these two choices is converted into a cubite or set of cubes, then the magnetic field is applied, and D-Wave finds the most probable solution. There are classical methods that can solve similar problems, but these researchers are looking for ways to pinpoint their problems specifically to D-Wave's architecture, hoping to be prepared for the potential of the forthcoming quantum computer revolution.

Again, these are ideas for proof of the concept. These researchers just want to know if a strange D-Wave physics, probabilistic cubes and the ability to solve optimization problems can be useful one day. Typically, these companies do not use D-Wave computers, but experiment with quantum systems from IBM and other companies.

This is something scientists in Los Alamos do: test high-performance computers. "This is an important but modest part of our entire high-performance computing strategy," said John Sarao, deputy director of science, technology and engineering at Los Alamos. "This is technology that looks interesting, that the quantum role plays a role and is accessible to people who want to try things out. For us, this is enough to say that it deserves the study as part of a wider, comprehensive advanced computer strategy.

And in many cases people will find that D-Wave will not help them solve their problems. This is also important. Sarah said: "Understanding what's possible, whether you find a killer application or find it does not meet the requirements – these are positive results."

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