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Test: Quantum Or Not, Controversial Computer No Faster Than Normal

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the you're-doing-it-wrong dept.

Technology 119

sciencehabit writes The D-Wave computer, marketed as a groundbreaking quantum machine that runs circles around conventional computers, solves problems no faster than an ordinary rival, a new test shows. Some researchers call the test of the controversial device, described in Science, the fairest comparison yet. "...to test D-Wave’s machine, Matthias Troyer, a physicist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, and colleagues didn't just race it against an ordinary computer. Instead, they measured how the time needed to solve a problem increases with the problem's size. That's key because the whole idea behind quantum computing is that the time will grow much more slowly for a quantum computer than for an ordinary one. In particular, a full-fledged 'universal' quantum computer should be able to factor huge numbers ever faster than an ordinary computer as the size of the numbers grow." D-Wave argues that the computations used in the study were too easy to show what its novel chips can do.

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The real question in my mind (4, Interesting)

TFoo (678732) | about 5 months ago | (#47277795)

Is this a case where D-Wave was fraudulently trying to pass something off as quantum when they knew it wasn't, or did they really and truly not know. How could they not know?

Re:The real question in my mind (2, Interesting)

Pinhedd (1661735) | about 5 months ago | (#47277847)

No, it's simply a case of pitting a very immature technology against one that's very mature.

Re:The real question in my mind (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about 5 months ago | (#47277893)

No. They are trying to measure the growth of the problem. So its not important which one is absolutely faster, but which one takes relatively more time as the problem becomes more difficult.

The conventional computer should take exponentially longer as the problem becomes mroe difficult. The quantum one should not.

In this test, both took exponentially longer. So either the d-wave doesn't work, or as the manufacturer has claimed, the problems were not setup to demonstrate the class of problems where the d-wave will show better performance relative to problem complexity growth than a conventional computer.

Seems odd to me though that they can't provide easily verified sample problem spaces where their device works better than a conventional PC as the problem gets 'bigger'.

Re:The real question in my mind (3, Informative)

Garfong (1815272) | about 5 months ago | (#47277997)

In this test, both took exponentially longer. So either the d-wave doesn't work, or as the manufacturer has claimed, the problems were not setup to demonstrate the class of problems where the d-wave will show better performance relative to problem complexity growth than a conventional computer.

Or the maximum problem size handled by the machine is too small so see the sub-exponential growth. Complexity theory deals with performance on very large data sets, and, if I remember correctly, the D-wave machine is limited to a small problem size (max a hundred or so qbits)

Re:The real question in my mind (4, Insightful)

radish (98371) | about 5 months ago | (#47278391)

Which in turn would mean that for the problem space it's capable of operating within it's no faster than a normal computer. Which reduces down to "it's no faster than a normal computer".

Re:The real question in my mind (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 5 months ago | (#47278831)

Which reduces down to "it's no faster than a normal computer".

I'm not sure I get this argument. The guys selling this stuff have said for a while that their device is fast enough at quantum annealing to be useful for learning to program quantum computers, and that when their manufacturing ramps up they'll have many more qubits, and I think the implication is that the speed doesn't scale linearly. They were telling the Googles and the Lockheeds, 'look you need to invest in our product and services so you can be ready in the quantum computing space when the better hardware emerges'.

That it's not absolutely faster than a conventional computer at this point is interesting, academically, but not terribly relevant to their sales pitch, unless we can show that the problem at hand fits inside their limited qubit space and the types of algorithms its supposed to be able to handle at this point, and still does not do what's expected of it.

Also: did a tiny Canadian computer company produce a computer that's as fast (within the problem space) as a modern Xeon on their slim budget? That would almost seem revolutionary - AMD can't even do that with GlobalFoundary's fab on their side.

Maybe it is a scam, but this kind of analysis seems somewhat orthogonal to their claims. By all means, pop one open and find the i7 inside, and there won't be any question, but that's not really where we are today.

What kind of "ordinary computer"? (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 5 months ago | (#47278971)

An ordinary $1000 i7 laptop or Xeon server? Or an ordinary $10million mainframe (if you can still spend that much for a mainframe)?

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279041)

I'm not sure I get this argument. The guys selling this stuff have said for a while that their device is fast enough at quantum annealing to be useful for learning to program quantum computers, and that when their manufacturing ramps up they'll have many more qubits, and I think the implication is that the speed doesn't scale linearly. They were telling the Googles and the Lockheeds, 'look you need to invest in our product and services so you can be ready in the quantum computing space when the better hardware emerges'.

Where do you get this interpretation from? I do not see anything like that on their website. I have, however, seen them publish spurious performance comparisons, which seems like an odd choice if their intent is solely to provide a test system. If they are fully aware that their system cannot outperform even a cheap traditional computer, perhaps they should stop making performance claims. Of course then the only thing they have to sell is the unverified claim that their machine is actually doing quantum annealing.

Also: did a tiny Canadian computer company produce a computer that's as fast (within the problem space) as a modern Xeon on their slim budget? That would almost seem revolutionary - AMD can't even do that with GlobalFoundary's fab on their side.

They made a computer that costs ten thousand times as much as a mid-range desktop and is on par with such a computer for a very narrow class of problems. Do you think it's amazing every time a company fabs a DSP to solve some specific problem?

Maybe it is a scam, but this kind of analysis seems somewhat orthogonal to their claims. By all means, pop one open and find the i7 inside, and there won't be any question, but that's not really where we are today.

Write me a check for ten million dollars and I'll get started presently -- I'll even cover my own cost of living!

Re: The real question in my mind (2)

loufoque (1400831) | about 5 months ago | (#47279231)

Even with ten million you can't make a processor better than a i7.

Re: The real question in my mind (2)

Shimbo (100005) | about 5 months ago | (#47279727)

If he had 10 million dollars, he wouldn't need to.

Re: The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47280339)

citation needed?

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 5 months ago | (#47279713)

Well, the "ramping up" will not happen, because they cannot do it. And producing something like a Xeon is easy if you do not have tight space and energy constraints.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 5 months ago | (#47279761)

well they still haven't provided an actual use for a computer they are selling for an actual use.

if you think they're not selling it for actual use as better than traditional computing, just go to their fucking website and see.

and afaik, it's not disclosed now what the auxiliary computers running the quantum annealing chip do. point being, we're not allowed to take it open and look at everything that happens AND it has plenty of oldschool computing power attached to it.

Re:The real question in my mind (4, Informative)

HappyPsycho (1724746) | about 5 months ago | (#47278569)

GP is actually correct. This is not even a full quantum computer.

"The D-Wave machine is not a universal quantum computer, however, but a more limited "quantum annealer."", which according to wikipedia seems to mean some sort of global minimum finder (given how to find all the local minimum solutions, find the lowest one).

With a mere 512 quibits available on the D-Wave device I'm more than willing to believe they may be still in the area of small inputs where an O(n) algorithm can still beat an O(log n) algorithm (e.g. http://cse.csusb.edu/dick/cs20... [csusb.edu] )

What problems are Quantum Annealers good for? (4, Interesting)

billstewart (78916) | about 5 months ago | (#47278999)

That's been the big question with D-Wave all along. What does it really do, how does it really work, what's it good for, is it real?

Everybody knows what a universal quantum computer is good for - running Shor's algorithm to do factoring and totally wrecking public-key cryptography, plus whatever other problems people care about in the real world. But general-purpose quantum computers so far can't keep enough qbits entangled together to factor numbers bigger than 21 = 3x7, and if anybody's figured out how to do significantly bigger than that, they're keeping it Really Well Hidden (either because they're a government, or because a government will want them to do stuff, or because a government will want them killed.)

Meanwhile, D-Wave has 512 qbits that they claim they'll be able to do something with, and maybe it'll have a chance of being cool or useful. And maybe if you kick in enough megabucks to get a non-disclosure agreement, you'll be able to get some information beyond vague quantumy handwaving. They are the only game in town, after all.

What problems are Quantum Annealers good for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279581)

As noted, the D-Wave was never sold as being for anything except quantum annealing. Slashdot and the rest of the tech rags, of course, were only too happy to call it a "quantum computer". Just because "everybody knows" what a universal quantum computer is good for doesn't make it one.

Its sole purpose is optimization, and specifically optimization problems that are amenable to quantum annealing. Furthermore, it can only really be useful on problems that are amenable to quantum annealing but not to other optimization methods (simulated annealing and friends). So it's absolutely feasible that it doesn't outperform a conventional processor on problems that aren't hard enough to be problematic for simulated annealing.

Whether the class of problems that can be solved by QA but not SA actually contains anything useful (or anything at all) is another matter altogether, of course.

Re:What problems are Quantum Annealers good for? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279775)

Except there have been quantum annealing algorithms for classical computers for some time now, and if the chip can't show any signs of being better at doing so, it isn't justifying the costs even for research purposes. If they could demonstrate some improved scaling, that might be good for getting investment in further development, PR for the company, and for pure research purposes. But it wouldn't be of much use, even as something to try out for programming purposes when the algorithms, even quantum in nature, can be run on classical computers for much cheaper. After all, any quantum algorithm can run on a classical computer, the only difference being that it scales a lot worse on a classical computer versus a proper quantum implementation.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279023)

"The conventional computer should take exponentially longer as the problem becomes mroe difficult."

Do you mean "as the problem becomes more difficult linearly?" You haven't qualified one side of the equation.

My understand is that if the problem difficulty increases exponentially, traditional computers do the same, but quantum computers should only increase linearly. Or, if the problem increases linearly, quantum solves it in log(n).

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279201)

That would be wonderful, but it's only true for certain problems (e.g. the classic Shor's Algorithm for prime factorization). In complexity theory terms, it is believed that BQP does not contain NP [wikipedia.org] . Grover's algorithm effectively halves your problem size when solving an NP problem on a quantum computer. Which is huge. But it's still exponential. This is very important because it means post-quantum cryptography [wikipedia.org] is possible by choosing the right algorithms and using large enough keys.

Re:The real question in my mind (2)

liquidsin (398151) | about 5 months ago | (#47279189)

not sure how easily verified these would be, but this page [dwavesys.com] gives a list of things they claim it's a better fit than conventional methods.

Re:The real question in my mind (2)

timholman (71886) | about 5 months ago | (#47281075)

Seems odd to me though that they can't provide easily verified sample problem spaces where their device works better than a conventional PC as the problem gets 'bigger'.

This "failure to do the obvious thing", i.e. the designers not providing their own sample problem spaces to validate their own design, is one of the warning signs of pseudoscience.

It is equally troubling if they state "Hey, you didn't run the right test" as a post hoc excuse, while failing to specify just what the right test was beforehand. They are shifting the burden of proof to others - another warning sign of pseudoscience.

There are many, many historical cases of otherwise reputable scientists and engineers falling into a pseudoscientific mindset. It should not be ruled out here.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47277943)

no convincing evidence of quantum entanglement yet in that device

Re:The real question in my mind (2)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 5 months ago | (#47278347)

I've been pretty sure it's a scam for some time now. They have yet to demonstrate anything quantum about it at all, nor can they produce problems that it solves faster than a conventional computer. This is not the first time.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | about 5 months ago | (#47278921)

Researchers have been able to experimentally prove the existence of quantum entanglement in a quantum annealing processor which is supposedly a subset of the design that D-Wave employs

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1401.3500... [arxiv.org]

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 5 months ago | (#47279311)

I didn't say quantum computing was a scam, but D-Wave appear to be either that or a failed project.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279749)

I didn't say quantum computing was a scam, but D-Wave appear to be either that or a failed project.

Still, even without the speedup in this test, D-Wave is still going toe-to-toe with some of the most powerful conventional computing clusters in the world. It would be interesting to know the cost of the conventional computers it is being compared to.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47281145)

Still, even without the speedup in this test, D-Wave is still going toe-to-toe with some of the most powerful conventional computing clusters in the world. It would be interesting to know the cost of the conventional computers it is being compared to.

Except it isn't going toe-to-toe with even desktop computers with half-way decent implementations of the algorithms on the desktop computer.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47282949)

Still, even without the speedup in this test, D-Wave is still going toe-to-toe with some of the most powerful conventional computing clusters in the world. It would be interesting to know the cost of the conventional computers it is being compared to.

Except it isn't going toe-to-toe with even desktop computers with half-way decent implementations of the algorithms on the desktop computer.

According to The Verge article on the test we are discussing here it was compared to very powerful conventional computing clusters.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47284955)

A simulation discussed in the paper checks that the D-wave device is acting as expected for a quantum device, including when it fails to find a solution and has decoherence issues. The charts show that compared to a single classical cpu for just the problem algorithm and there is not much more than a factor of ten increase in price, and at larger problem size the speed up rolls off and gets less than a factor of 10 improvement as the classical computer scales better.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

Pinhedd (1661735) | about 5 months ago | (#47281721)

No, you said that they haven't yet demonstrated anything quantum about it, and I provided you with a link proving otherwise.

It may not be more useful, compact, or flexible than an existing well known and well optimized method of completing the same task, but neither were early electromechanical machines or some of the earliest digital computers.

In order to qualify it as a failed project or a scam you'd need to clearly demonstrate that it doesn't do what it claims to do, not that it doesn't do it as well as you expected. Give it a few years and a few more iterations, if it shows no meaningful improvement then that claim can be revisited.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47282889)

clearly demonstrate that it doesn't do what it claims to do, not that it doesn't do it as well as you expected.

They keep claiming the present product is faster than a classical computer and actually useful. I'm all for continuing development of quantum computing and realize that early research, proof of principle devices are going to be impractical and much slower and/or expensive than established tech. But the company is overhyping it by claiming it is faster than conventional computers now, and keep trying to move the goal posts without backpedaling on that claim whenever researchers find it isn't faster. In this case, if the scaling doesn't work out, it can be damning on a more fundamental level. There is still the possibility the scaling changes at large scales, but it isn't helping when the company just says "You're trying the wrong problem." (especially when the paper doesn't solve a very specific problem and just looks at the time it takes to settle to a state).

Re:The real question in my mind (4, Informative)

quax (19371) | about 5 months ago | (#47279071)

Do you know how to use a search engine?

Are you aware of scholar.google.com [slashdot.org] ?

It's really not hard to find papers like this [nature.com] or this [aps.org] .

And yes, the Matthias Troyer who co-authored the first paper is the same guy who conducted the performance study that the /. blurb references.

That D-Wave performs quantum annealing can be regarded as settled. The only question that remains is how useful this may be.

Eight years ago everybody (myself included) thought D-Wave was a scam or just crazy. As new facts emerge smart people (such as Matthias) adjust their judgment.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 5 months ago | (#47279717)

Indeed. It is a get-rich-quick scheme, nothing else. The idiots seem to be plenty though.

Re: The real question in my mind (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278417)

I do think DWave honestly believes their ideas will work so you would not be able to prove fraud. Also it is very hard for another technolgy to catch up with existing tech when that techngy is still doubling about every two years.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 5 months ago | (#47279711)

Indeed. A technology that will remain immature though, because it has no potential except for short-term fraud.

Re:The real question in my mind (2)

Pinhedd (1661735) | about 5 months ago | (#47281659)

Not necessarily.

Using quantum annealing to solve non-linear multivariate optimization problems is theoretically faster than using traditional turing computation. It definitely needs more development to overcome a normal workstation or supercomputer, but it will most likely happen eventually.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 5 months ago | (#47283615)

In which case you'd think somebody could come up with a non-linear multivariate optimization problem to prove its superiority. (Being able to solve those things efficiently would be cool.) I'm a bit of an empiricist: if somebody can come up with good evidence that the D-Wave can solve one of those with lower asymptotic complexity than a properly programmed supercomputer, I can be convinced.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47282415)

John Henry always beats the steam drill.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 5 months ago | (#47277849)

Ok crew, coffee break is over, back to the Drawing Board.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 5 months ago | (#47278517)

The drawing board. I always thought the quickest computer was one that contained the most specific cores to handle specific types of calculations and specific operations. We seem to have slowed down in that regard, getting more cores but not specific operation cores, also getting more functions inside the CPU itself rather than scattered all over the motherboard, with data having to travel huge distances.

Re:The real question in my mind (2)

Shajenko42 (627901) | about 5 months ago | (#47277851)

Well, they would have to open the box to find out...

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | about 5 months ago | (#47278621)

That'd be a hoot: they'd open the box only to find a dead cat inside, answering that question...

Re:The real question in my mind (2, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#47277983)

Wow. So quantum, very scam, much dollars.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278199)

Isn't everything "quantum" just a scam?

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278273)

Isn't everything "quantum" just a scam?

No quantum mechanics is very very real and very very strange. It's so poorly understood by the public that it's easily used by scammers and crackpots to beguile the audience.

Re:The real question in my mind (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278309)

Isn't everything "quantum" just a scam?

No quantum mechanics is very very real and very very strange. It's so poorly understood by the public that it's easily used by scammers and crackpots to beguile the audience.

You tell'em brother. No one is going to bad mouth my Nukacola Quantum. Being able to see in the dark and this third arm is perfectly normal.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

Garridan (597129) | about 5 months ago | (#47278891)

Quantum mechanics is not strange. Humans are simply stupid.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278943)

Humans are not stupid, simply trained on the wrong dataset

Re:The real question in my mind (2)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 5 months ago | (#47278663)

Gosh, I hope not, otherwise what are all those tunnel diodes doing in my 50 year old scope? Come to think of it, without quantum effects, you can't even get a vacuum tube to work...

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 5 months ago | (#47279017)

Vacuum tubes weren't particularly quantum, as long as you don't count "electron acting like a charged particle" as quantum and are dealing with large enough currents that you don't care about counting the precise timing of individual ones. Basic electrical forces do the job fine.

Transistors may be doing quantum stuff, and tunnel diodes are the classic quantum thing.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 5 months ago | (#47279371)

Correct me if I am wrong, but you can't explain how dark heaters work without the idea of quantized packets of energy, or indeed understand the various sources of noise in tubes.

Or just the good old phototube.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279431)

The electrons leaving the cathode is very quant-ish indeed.

Re:The real question in my mind (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 5 months ago | (#47279455)

The electron emission part is a quantum effect. It can't be explained in purely classical terms. Fortunately the end result can be reduced down to a couple of handy equations simple enough for non-quantum-physicists to make use of the tubes.

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 5 months ago | (#47283623)

Vacuum tube? You can't figure out how an incandescent light bulb works without getting into quantum effects.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278249)

But it is provably quantum. It has been done so several times, one just recently and was posted on here in fact.
Doesn't mean it is a good one though.
You can do realtime raytracing on a computer 10 years ago. As long as you don't expect high resolution and FPS that is, it is trivial to do.

The test samples themselves could be small, or not ones that work well on the device at all.
It could even be that quantum computing IS no better than classical computing at all and the whole theory needs to be revised completely.
Just read it, the test they did in it sounds not very good at all. It is like generating a billion random numbers and using that to benchmark a programming language. (something for fun, but not useful. Fun fact, JavaScript is insanely faster than Python and PHP in that test last I tried it. Webworkers are awesome)

Quite frankly if there are large organizations that are capable of working with it, I'd trust them over this.
And this is Google and Lockheed we are speaking about as well. 2 hugely respected companies in their fields. (well, I say "respected" with Google, more hated now but a necessary evil)

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278381)

"But it is provably quantum."

[Citation needed]

Re:The real question in my mind (5, Funny)

marciot (598356) | about 5 months ago | (#47278313)

How could they not know?

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: If they knew for a fact their claims were fraudulent, they would not know what their claims were. Since they in fact know that they are claiming to have a quantum computer, they cannot know whether the claim is fraudulent or not.

Re:The real question in my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47280739)

So the D-Wave computer might just contain either a dead cat or an angry cat?

Re:The real question in my mind (2)

quax (19371) | about 5 months ago | (#47279033)

The machine is not faster than conventional machines at this point. [wavewatching.net]

But Troyer et. al. actually confirmed that the D-Wave machine is performing quantum annealing as advertised. [nature.com]

In order to perform on the same level they used a highly optimized solver [wavewatching.net] , not off-the-shelf optimizer software that the D-Wave machine outperforms handily [nytimes.com] .

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 5 months ago | (#47279707)

They knew. But they had idiots at Google, the NSA and others offer them a lot of money, so what would they care?

Re:The real question in my mind (1)

ramorim (1257654) | about 5 months ago | (#47283593)

This remind me of the recent Turing Test competition...

They aren't designed to use the same algorithms. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277865)

You fucking morons.

Re:They aren't designed to use the same algorithms (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#47278459)

But the makers of the computer can't find a single problem it solves well. Why is that?

Re:They aren't designed to use the same algorithms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278947)

So invent some. I remember some bullshit about how they had all the equations if only a quantum computer existed...

Re:They aren't designed to use the same algorithms (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 months ago | (#47279695)

But the makers of the computer can't find a single problem it solves well. Why is that?

Aside from profit, why is that question even relevant? It took a century for the geocentric model to give more accurate results than the old heliocentric model. Here we appear to have quite a few independent observers who know quantum annealing when they see it, I am not one of them. Sure it could be a scam but so far I have seen zero evidence supporting that hypothesis.

Re: They aren't designed to use the same algorithm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279865)

You're mixing up your geos and helios.

Re:They aren't designed to use the same algorithms (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#47279935)

It took a century for the geocentric model to give more accurate results than the old heliocentric model.

But the "benefits" were immediate. The geocentric model was complicated and incomplete. The heliocentric was "better" day-1 for some things. But the accuracy was more a limit of the measurements at the time. It also took time for others to come on board. People were afraid that if they admitted the heliocentric model was better, they'd be sent to Hell.

Re:They aren't designed to use the same algorithms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47281821)

People were afraid that if they admitted the heliocentric model was better, they'd be sent to Hell.

This Galileo worship tripe again.

Copernicus had no trouble with the Catholic Church and had a better heliocentric model than anything Galileo came up with, before Galileo was born. The reason it didn't catch on was because there was no advantage in real life to either model. Except for a very small few scientists, no one paid close attention to the exact rate of movement of Jupiter over the years, nor did anyone have reason to. The typical population in that timeframe was really not concerned with the finer details of anything with less direct influence on earth than the sun and moon. Crops were important, weather was important, tides were often important, and for sailors, stars were important. Planets were a curiosity, and a detail that comes out to less than 0.003% variation in the least consistent of stars when you're using a sextant with 5% error is completely meaningless.

Doesn't mean it's not quantum (1, Insightful)

Ken_g6 (775014) | about 5 months ago | (#47278031)

This could mean that D-Wave isn't quantum. Or it could mean that quantum computing in general isn't faster than normal computing. I seem to recall some physicist making a bet that quantum computing would be proved equivalent to classical computing.

Experiment to determine the truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278303)

This could mean that D-Wave isn't quantum. Or it could mean that quantum computing in general isn't faster than normal computing. I seem to recall some physicist making a bet that quantum computing would be proved equivalent to classical computing.

I propose the following experiment.
1. Place a radioactive source, a detector and and this supposed quantum computer in a closed opaque box.
2. Attached to the computer are 2 vials. Vial 1 contains oily secretions of a serpent. Vial 2 contains bovine excrement.
3. After a certain time the computer will open one of the vials. If radiation is detected it will open vial 1. If not it will open vial 2.
4. Now sniff the box.

Re: Experiment to determine the truth (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 5 months ago | (#47278665)

But won't sniffing it invalidate the test?

Re:Experiment to determine the truth (1)

gargleblast (683147) | about 5 months ago | (#47278693)

If the computer could open a superposition of the two vials, it would go like shit off a greased shovel.

Re:Doesn't mean it's not quantum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278411)

it could mean that quantum computing in general isn't faster than normal computing.

It isn't. It is only advantageous for specific problem classes.

I seem to recall some physicist making a bet that quantum computing would be proved equivalent to classical computing.

It is known to be Turing-equivalent. If it were proven to be able to tackle problems a Turing machine can't it would be probably the major breakthrough of this century in computer science. The advantage is a quantum computer could do it faster, assuming someone gets it to actually work.

Re:Doesn't mean it's not quantum (1)

lazy genes (741633) | about 5 months ago | (#47278769)

I think its showing symptoms of real artificial intelligence by not solving the problems faster. What's in it for them if they do.

Re:Doesn't mean it's not quantum (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#47279529)

Or it could mean that quantum computing in general isn't faster than normal computing.

The D-Wave isn't "quantum computing in general."

Re:Doesn't mean it's not quantum (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 5 months ago | (#47279735)

Actually, the only real reason to do research in that direction is to verify some aspects of quantum theory. Quantum Computers (if possible) face extreme scalability challenges that are basically sure to prevent scaling to anything really useful. remember that QCs cannot do parallel computing with several machines, cannot do problem division and cannot do larger numbers of sequential steps.In short, they cannot do any of the things that allow conventional computers to scale.

Oh well.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278101)

Muslims still kill the innocent in the name of the flying spaghetti rag head Allah and his child molesting prophet Mohammad.
 
Fuck Mohammad!
Fuck Allah!
FUCK ISLAM!!!!

Hope you enjoyed the decade, Geordie. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278111)

I've been surprised time and again that D-Wave has kept afloat as long as it has. It *will* fail in the end, the only question is how much of that investment money Geordie Rose got safely stashed before the collapse. Their approach is fundamentally not quantum computing.

Re:Hope you enjoyed the decade, Geordie. (4, Informative)

quax (19371) | about 5 months ago | (#47279091)

It is not gate based universal quantum computing but special purpose quantum annealing [arxiv.org] .

If you accept this as a valid approach to quantum computing has certainly been the subject of much debate.

Re:Hope you enjoyed the decade, Geordie. (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 5 months ago | (#47279737)

There is a sucker born every minute...

Even completely obvious fraudsters like Rossi are still afloat. And don't even get me started on various cults and religions. People are stupid and want to believe what they are told.

Exploiting bug in Supermicro hardware (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278263)

At least 32,000 servers broadcast admin passwords in the clear, advisory warns

Exploiting bug in Supermicro hardware is as easy as connecting to port 49152.

http://arstechnica.com/securit... [arstechnica.com]

http://blog.cari.net/carisirt-... [cari.net]

https://isc.sans.edu/diary/New... [sans.edu]

er no shit sherlock! (1)

mtthwbrnd (1608651) | about 5 months ago | (#47278395)

" didn't just race it against an ordinary computer. Instead, they measured how the time needed to solve a problem increases with the problem's size. That's key "

That is algo design 101. Why has it taken so long for somebody to test it this way?

Re:er no shit sherlock! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278477)

Because the machine costs ten million dollars and the people selling it are obviously not going to publish information that portrays their machine in a bad light. Very few people have access to these, and those who do often have a vested interest in convincing people the machine is worthwhile.

Re:er no shit sherlock! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279063)

I really hope there's a -1 smartass mod

Re:er no shit sherlock! (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 5 months ago | (#47279739)

Because nobody in CS actually competent wants anything to do with this scam. This was done by a physicist, and they do not face the risk of being regarded as incompetent Computer Scientists when associating with this thing.

IANAL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278397)

This is when the lawsuits start flying. And we get to discovery and see what makes this computer and company tick.

That is unless the agencies and universities don't want to reveal themselves as being gulible by going to court.

So they've reinvented the analogue computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278447)

Well if its a system of switches/links between qbits, and you set it up and run it, then its an analogue computer on a chip.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog_computer

And if it's not showing any 'quantum entanglement effect' then its big selling point is lost, because otherwise you're simply dealing with an analogue computer.

Re:So they've reinvented the analogue computer (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 5 months ago | (#47279743)

Looks very much like it, indeed.

I have an idea (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 5 months ago | (#47278839)

Wait, I have an idea...they should overclock the quantum chip. By the way, that's twice as funny if you know how it works.

It's to D-Wave's advantage to be unproven (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278967)

As long as they have enough wealthy believers at this early stage to fund development, there's no need to ignite the pending explosion of competing startups with something as unwise as a publically proven quantum computer. If would-be competitors' investors are discouraged by D-Wave's apparent lack of proof, this is to D-Wave's strategic advantage.

Not that fast yet but true quantum annealing (2)

quax (19371) | about 5 months ago | (#47278981)

Originally I meant to bet with Matthias Troyer if the D-Wave machine was truly a quantum annealer. At the time Matthias wrote me:

""Actually, we can't bet anymore since I know the results that we're going to publish and we'll say yes to quantum :-). We should have done the bet a year ago."

So we decided to bet if the current crop of D-Wave machines can already beat conventional computing.

Obviously I lost that bet, but not by much. [wavewatching.net]

It will be interesting to see how the next chip generation will fare, there is still lots of room for higher qubit integration. In comparison to conventional CMOS the D-Wave chip structures are huge.

Conventional chip design doesn't have lots of room at the bottom any more. D-Wave on the other hand still has plenty of room at the bottom [wikipedia.org] .

That's why I will continue to bet on them.

 

Rather then feeding the trolls ... (4, Informative)

quax (19371) | about 5 months ago | (#47279121)

.... maybe the slahdot stub should have had a link to hear from the horse's mouth [www.ethz.ch] ?

In this interview Matthias Troyer puts his team's results into the correct context.

Re:Rather then feeding the trolls ... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 months ago | (#47279741)

Thanks for the link, I know SFA about this machine but I think the last bit in your link is well worth repeating...

"The D-Wave computer is the first quantum computer to be marketed by a private company. Why haven’t scientists working in this field in state-funded research labs succeeded in doing this yet?

The company needed more than USD 100 million to build this machine. An academic research group can’t muster this kind of money. When we write research proposals, our projects must be easier to predict in terms of potential success and not exposed to such a high level of risk. D-Wave built this machine although the outcome of the project was uncertain. As a researcher, you wouldn’t take that risk. But if it works, there are tremendous ramifications. It would be a huge breakthrough."

It didn't work = Science paper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279405)

So they tested a so-called quantum computer that doesn't work very well, and got a Science paper out of it. Color me unimpressed.

I think I've identified the fault (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 5 months ago | (#47279623)

They wired the computer into Deepak Chopra's quantum consciousness and all it produced was a stream of pseudoscientific gobbledegook.

from the man who conducted the experiment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47279759)

The manufacturer pitches its machine as the world’s first commercially available quantum computer. Critics initially considered this a nonsensical claim. Has the mood now turned?
The experts were sceptical at first, but the question now is no longer whether it’s bogus. The tests at Lockheed Martin and Google have shown that the machine works and uses quantum mechanics in the process. This is an accomplishment. But can quantum mechanics help solve optimisation problems? This is now the exciting, unanswered question.

So can D-Wave really be described as a quantum computer?
It’s more of a physics experiment, a prototype that solves specific problems using some quantum mechanics. The device is not a universal quantum computer that can do anything. But as a specialised device, it can be referred to as a quantum computer. It’s like the controls in a car, toaster or refrigerator that solve only one specific problem but can also be called computers.

Re:from the man who conducted the experiment (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 5 months ago | (#47279773)

dodging questions.
has an ass to cover with access to the thing.

now, is it any faster than a room temperature traditional analog computer in doing what it does?

Specialized programming hardware - limited uses (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47280277)

Alot of hype about these quantum computers, D-Wave in particular making claims.
Theres a limited class of problems that that type of computing is applicable to and thses things are not the equivalent of a general purpose computer.

Way too easy? Well let them supply a spectrum of appropriate quantum problems (and not just the subset their hardware's quantum like effect can handle) so that it can be properly demonstrated.

Obvious absurd observations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47280321)

Obviously, the D-wave performs differently when it is observed. If anything, this proves that it is a Quantum device.

Hmm. A "fair" comparison isn't the right test. (3, Informative)

hey! (33014) | about 5 months ago | (#47282625)

What we need to know about is the existence or non-existence of unfair comparisons, i.e., problems that favor the putatively "quantum" computer.

Since I don't expect a quantum computer to be faster at everything, then finding a bunch of solutions to problems that aren't any faster on the "quantum computer" doesn't prove anything, even if the problems look like the kind of problems you'd hope would be quantum-computery. There's not much more you can do than point to the absence of evidence when the burden of proof isn't on you.

The burden of proof is on the vendor here, and standard of "proof" is conceptually simple at least: demonstrate that for some task this device offers any practical advantage whatsoever over the best available conventional technology. That could be in absolute performance against the best available tech(e.g. ASICs and supercomputers), in relative performance over similarly priced systems, or in some practical measure other than performance, such as power consumption. Any clearly identifiable and verifiable advantage counts as positive proof the vendor has something worth paying attention to.

Of course even comparable performance by a novel architecture on some class of problems is interesting, because of the huge advantages a mature technology enjoys. Performance of a new design even in the same ballpark as a mature design suggests future improvements might be in the works. But it's only a suggestion.

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