Washington | A controversial machine marketed as the world’s first commercial quantum computer that Google and NASA bought in 2013 resoundingly has beaten a conventional computer in a series of tests, researchers at Google say.
Google said it has proof that this machine really can use quantum physics to work through a type of math that is crucial to artificial intelligence much faster than a conventional computer.
Governments and leading computing companies such as Microsoft, IBM, and Google are trying to develop what are called quantum computers because using the weirdness of quantum mechanics to represent data could unlock immense data crunching powers.
It is a truly disruptive technology that could change how we do everything, said Deepak Biswas, director of exploration technology at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in California.
Computing giants believe quantum computers could make their artificial intelligence software much more powerful and unlock scientific leaps in areas like materials science, according to MIT Technology Review.
NASA hopes quantum computers could help schedule rocket launches and simulate future missions and spacecraft. The computer is installed at NASA’s Ames Research Centre and operates on data using a superconducting chip called a quantum annealer.
A quantum annealer is hard-coded with an algorithm suited to what are called ‘optimisation problems,’ which are common in machine-learning and artificial-intelligence software. They bought the machine in 2013 from Canadian startup D-Wave systems, which is marketed as the world’s first commercial quantum computer.
However, D-Wave’s chips are controversial among quantum physicists. Researchers have been unable to conclusively prove that the devices can tap into quantum physics to beat out conventional computers. The researchers set up a series of races between the D-Wave computer against a conventional computer with a single processor.
For a specific, carefully crafted proof-of-concept problem we achieve a 100-million-fold speed-up, said Hartmut Neven, leader of Google’s Quantum AI Lab in Los Angeles.
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