Quantum computers: Meet my new computer. Different than the old computer…

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Photo by Cat Crawford from Pexels

In theory, quantum computers can do anything that a classical computer can. In practice, however, the quantumness in a quantum computer makes it nearly impossible to efficiently run some of the most important classical algorithms.

The traditional grade-school method for multiplication requires n^2 steps, where n is the number of digits of the numbers you’re multiplying. For millennia, mathematicians believed there wasn’t a more efficient approach.

But in 1960 mathematician Anatoly Karatsuba found a faster way. His method involved splitting long numbers into shorter numbers. To multiply two eight-digit numbers, for example, you would first split each into two four-digit numbers, then split each of these into two-digit numbers. You then do some operations on all the two-digit numbers and reconstitute the results into a final product. For multiplication involving large numbers, the Karatsuba method takes far fewer steps than the grade-school method.

When a classical computer runs the Karatsuba method, it deletes information as it goes. For example, after it reconstitutes the two-digit numbers into four-digit numbers, it forgets the two-digit numbers. All it cares about is the four-digit numbers themselves. But quantum computers can’t shed (forget) information.

Quantum computers perform calculations by manipulating “qubits” which are entangled with one another. This entanglement is what gives quantum computers their massive power, but it is the same property that makes (made) it impossible for them to run some algorithms which classical computers can execute with ease. It was only until some years ago that Craig Gidney, a software engineer at Google AI Quantum in Santa Barbara, California, described a quantum version of the Karatsuba algorithm. (1)

Think. Forget. Move on. Think again…

Know everything.

And you will need to forget.

Forget so that you can learn.

So that you know it all.

The path to light, passes through alleys of darkness.

And trusting the light can only lead to darkness, when the Sun sets down.

You need the Moon.

For it is only there, that you can see your eyes reflected…

Upon the silvery calm lake…

Sun breathing fire.

Light reflected on the Moon…

Cold light reflected on water…

Light passing through your eyes.

In the dead of the night,

You realize that you knew the Sun.

Stand still enough…

And you will listen to the cosmos being born…

Quantum computers. Environment. Memories. Stability. (through change)

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Before the dream of quantum computing is realized, a number of inherent problems must first be solved. One of these is the ability to maintain a stable memory system that overcomes the intrinsic instability of the basic unit of information in quantum computing – the quantum bit or “qubit”. To address this problem, Physicists working at the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) claim to have created breakthrough circuitry that continuously self-checks for inaccuracies to consistently maintain the error-free status of the quantum memory.

Vulnerability to environmentally-induced error – such as cosmic ray events or simply an unknown collapse of quantum coherence, for example – means that the information contained in a qubit is easily lost. And because of the nature of of quantum entanglement required to encode the qubit in the first place, any attempt to replicate the information will also immediately destabilize it. (1)

The environment changes constantly. And yet we believe that memory is based on a stable environment we are certain it exists. We try to be Gods in the cosmos. By altering the nature of the cosmos. We are afraid of change and yet change is what keeps everything unaltered. Everything possible. Everything different. Where else can that be possible, if not in an ever stable cosmos? Try to make things stop changing and you will put the universe in motion.

Stop and look around.

The world is spinning.

Try to stop it.

And everything will fall apart…

Quantum communications. Ship’s containers. Universe unity. Buttons.

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Physics says that if two particles are entangled on a quantum level, they are permanently linked — a change in one particle will instantaneously affect the other one, no matter the distance between them. That’s something that could be fantastic for quickly transporting information across vast distances … but only if we can figure out how to use it.

Scientists (and corporations) are already building working computers that rely on quantum entanglement. Now one of the biggest challenges for quantum computing is distance. Unlike our current computing networks, which swiftly move information across thousands of miles via super-speedy cables, quantum computing doesn’t have the same reach yet. The longest distance over which information has been transferred via a quantum network is just 300 kilometers, which might someday be enough for conveying information around a city or region, but not really enough for international quantum computing–especially across an ocean.

Now, scientists think they might have found a decidedly old-fashioned way to solve the ocean problem. The solution is already in use at ports around the world: the humble container ship. Scientists writing in a paper posted to arXiv.org have proposed using shipping containers to transport critical parts of a computing network from one side of the ocean to the other. The container ships will function kind of like a Pony Express, but instead of carrying messages, the cargo will be slightly different: they’ll be moving quantum objects. (1)

We are all travelling.
We send things travelling.
We think of other people travelling.
We have all left a hair or a button somewhere…

We are all interconnected with others.
We are all interconnected with everything.
Don’t look up for that button.
It makes you One with the Cosmos.

Damn!

I lost another one!

Quantum computers, solutions, secrets…

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D-Wave’s supposed quantum computers have attracted plenty of skepticism alongside some serious interest from huge corporations such as Google and Lockheed Martin. Now recent testing has shown that D-Wave’s machine can indeed beat standard computers head-to-head in solving certain problems.

The D-Wave computer performed up to 3600 times faster than a high-performance machine running IBM software while solving an optimization problem, according to the New York Times. D-Wave’s machine only proved slightly faster than the standard computing on two other optimization problem tests, but the results still seem encouraging for the company’s future prospects. (and there still exists the problem to make sure these are INDEED quantum computers, actually using quantum entanglement) (1, 2, 3, 4)

In any case, we are getting closer and closer to that hillarious moment where we will ask the super-computer “What is the secret of Life?” and it will answer “42”… In just 0.5 seconds! 🙂