With a tip of the hat to our Big on Data bro George Anadiotis, this week, we're breaking from our usual routine of the here and now to look at what's coming next. Mention the words quantum computing, and your first impression is that we're probably going to be spouting science fiction.
So what is quantum computing? It harnesses the physics of subatomic particles to provide a different way to store data and solve problems compared to conventional computers. Specifically, it totally turns the world of conventional binary computing on its side because quantum computing bits, or qubits, can represent multiple states at once, rather than just 0 or 1. The result is that quantum computers could solve certain HPC-like problems more efficiently.
Oh and by the way, did we mention that quantum computers must run at 4 degrees Kelvin? That's 4 degrees above absolute zero, far colder than interstellar space.
It's tempting to dismiss quantum computers as the computing equivalent of Warp Speed out of Star Trek. Then again, it was barely a few months ago where we saw SAS founder James Goodnight talking to Alexa to gin up a SAS analytics run in much the same way that Captain James T. Kirk spoke to his computers.
So why are we having this conversation?
Our attention was piqued by a chain of events over the past month. IBM first convened an analyst call around an upcoming article in the scientific journal Nature showing how a quantum computing modeling problem for complex molecular behavior would be documented in a Jupyter notebook. (If you want to get technical, it was about how to derive the lowest energy state of a molecule of beryllium hydride.)
Then Satya Nadella assembled a panel of Microsoft researchers to conclude his Ignite conference keynote with a session on pure theoretical physics that sailed straight over the heads of the business analyst and developer audience. Fortunately, the IBM call was way more plain spoken, addressing how quantum computers could be applied to common business problems, and where the technology stands today.
Turns out, quantum computers represent advances that would look familiar to veterans of big data analytics where you could query all of the data, not just a sample. It would also look familiar to those working with graph computing where you could factor the complexity of many-to-many relationships that would otherwise require endless joins with relational data models.
Quantum computing lends itself to any optimization problem where the combination of what-ifs, and all the permutations associated with them, would simply overwhelm a conventional binary computer. That lends itself to a large trove of mundane business and operational problems that are surprisingly familiar.
For instance, if you try to optimize a supply chain, chances are, you are narrowing down the problem to tackle the dozen most likely scenarios. With the resources of quantum computing, you could widen and deepen the analysis to virtually all possible scenarios. The same goes with tangible business challenges like managing financial risk when you have a complex tangle of interlocking trading systems across the globe. Or imagine, during drug testing, that a clinical research team could model all the potential interactions of a new drug with virtually the entire basket of medications that a specific patient cohort would be likely also be taking? And from there, could true personalized medicine be far behind?
But quantum computing development is still embryonic. A small Canadian startup, D Wave Systems, is selling units on a limited basis today. IBM is offering machines from of a half dozen 5 - 17 qubits in the cloud while Google is developing architectures that could scale up to 49. So it's not surprising that quantum still hits the wall with classes of problems that require complex, iterative processing (which, by the way, is what Spark excels at).
A good example of the type of problem that for now is just out of reach is encryption/decryption. As the algorithms grow more complex, it means factoring larger and larger prime numbers. Turns out, the interactions between qubits (which is called quantum entanglement) could short-cut such problems by taking the square root of the number of entries, and reducing the number of steps accordingly. The bottleneck is memory; such computations would require storing of state or interim results, much like a Spark or MapReduce problem. The problem is that, while development of compute chips is underway, nobody yet knows what true quantum memory would look like.
That would imply that for some problems, a division of labor where quantum factors the permutations while conventional scale-out systems handle the iterative processing might be an interim (or long-term) step.
There are a surprisingly sizable number of organizations currently pursuing quantum computing. Right now, most of the action is basic government-funded R&D, although some reports estimate VC investment over the past three years amounting to roughly $150 million. On one hand, it would be easy to get overly optimistic on near-term prospects for development given the rate at which technologies as varied as smart mobile devices, Internet of things, big data analytics, and cloud computing have blossomed from practically nothing a decade ago.
But the barriers to adoption of quantum are both physical and intellectual.
There is the physical need to super-cool machines that, in eras past, would have posed huge obstacles. But the cloud will likely do for quantum machines what they are already starting to do for GPUs: provide the economics for scale-out.
That leaves several more formidable hurdles. The physics of scale out still require basic rather than applied research - we still need to figure out how to scale such a large, fragile system. But the toughest challenge is likely to be intellectual, as it will likely require a different way of thinking to conceptualize a quantum computing problem. That suggests that the onramp to quantum will likely prove more gradual compared to the breakout technologies of the last decade.
See the article here:
What will you actually use quantum computing for? | ZDNet
- Quantum computing leaps ahead in 2019 with new power and speed - CNET - December 12th, 2019
- Quantum computing could be the next big security breakthrough - ITProPortal - December 12th, 2019
- Quantum Computers Are the Ultimate Paper Tiger - The National Interest Online - December 12th, 2019
- D-Wave partners with NEC to build hybrid HPC and quantum apps - TechCrunch - December 12th, 2019
- Security leaders fear that quantum computing developments will outpace security technologies - Continuity Central - December 12th, 2019
- D-Wave Announces Promotion of Dr. Alan Baratz to CEO - HPCwire - December 12th, 2019
- Recent Research: Quantum Computing Market with Future Prospects, Key Players SWOT Analysis and Forecast To 2029 - Sound On Sound Fest - December 12th, 2019
- Tiptoe before quantum leap into the future - TimesLIVE - December 8th, 2019
- This Week in Tech: What on Earth Is a Quantum Computer? - The New York Times - December 7th, 2019
- Quantum Computers Are About to Forever Change Car Navigation - autoevolution - December 7th, 2019
- Global Quantum Computing Market Expected to Deliver Dynamic Progression until 2028| D-Wave Systems, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, 1QB Information... - December 7th, 2019
- Amazon is now offering quantum computing as a service with Braket for AWS - The Verge - December 2nd, 2019
- ColdQuanta's Latest Ultracold Technology Heads to the International Space Station - Business Wire - December 2nd, 2019
- Researchers Discover New Way to Split and Sum Photons with Silicon - UT News | The University of Texas at Austin - December 2nd, 2019
- Archer Materials invited to chair quantum computing session at London conference - Proactive Investors Australia - December 2nd, 2019
- Archer Materials to chair Quantum Computing session at London Quantum.Tech Conference in 2020 - Proactive Investors Australia - November 30th, 2019
- The Future of Computing could be Magnetic - Robert Lea - Medium - November 30th, 2019
- Innovate, and grow - Economic Times - November 30th, 2019
- Tech news: The quantum internet is on the way - IOL - November 22nd, 2019
- Device Puts Photons in the Fast Lane - Optics & Photonics News - November 22nd, 2019
- Race is on to build quantum-proof encryption - Financial Times - November 21st, 2019
- Atos partners with Zapata to deliver complete quantum computing solution to the enterprise - Quantaneo, the Quantum Computing Source - November 20th, 2019
- NTT offers researchers $1 million salaries in bid to lure top talent in cryptography, quantum computing - The Japan Times - November 20th, 2019
- Information overload: The promise and risk of quantum computing - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists - November 17th, 2019
- D-Wave sticks with its approach to quantum computing - TechCrunch - November 17th, 2019
- The Quantum Computing Threat to American Security - The Wall Street Journal - November 17th, 2019
- Dell Technologies on democratising 5G and the future of quantum computing - ZDNet - November 17th, 2019
- How Serious Is the Threat of Quantum Computing to Crypto? - Finance Magnates - November 17th, 2019
- Superconducting quantum computing - Wikipedia - October 6th, 2019
- Quantum computing | MIT News - October 6th, 2019
- How Do Quantum Computers Work? - sciencealert.com - October 2nd, 2019
- What is Quantum Computing? - Definition from Techopedia - October 2nd, 2019
- How Quantum Computers Work | HowStuffWorks - September 5th, 2019
- Quantum computing could change everything, and IBM is ... - May 15th, 2019
- Quantum Computing - Intel - April 29th, 2019
- IBM expands universities in its quantum computing research ... - April 25th, 2019
- Quantum computing is a marathon not a sprint | VentureBeat - April 22nd, 2019
- The CIO's Guide to Quantum Computing - Smarter With Gartner - April 19th, 2019
- This Startup Just Raised $21 Million To Bring Quantum ... - April 18th, 2019
- What is Quantum Computing ? Top 18 Quantum Computing ... - April 6th, 2019
- The promise of quantum computing - businessinsider.com - March 27th, 2019
- Quantum computing is coming: Heres why we need to get our ... - March 23rd, 2019
- Quantum computing will break your encryption in a few ... - March 21st, 2019
- Microsoft has formed a coalition to promote quantum computing ... - March 19th, 2019
- Quantum computing for everyone | Michael Nielsen - March 12th, 2019
- Ask a Techspert: What is quantum computing? - blog.google - March 6th, 2019
- IBM hits quantum computing milestone, may see 'Quantum ... - March 6th, 2019
- Its Time You Learned About Quantum Computing | WIRED - March 6th, 2019
- Microsofts quantum computing network takes a giant leap ... - March 2nd, 2019
- When Will Quantum Computing Have Real Commercial Value ... - February 25th, 2019
- The Case Against Quantum Computing - IEEE Spectrum - February 22nd, 2019
- How Does Quantum Computing Work? - ExtremeTech - January 31st, 2019
- Quantum technology - Wikipedia - January 23rd, 2019
- CES 2019: IBM's Q System One Is the Rock Star Quantum ... - January 13th, 2019
- Quantum Computing | The MIT Press - January 11th, 2019
- IBM thinks outside of the lab, puts quantum computer in a box - January 11th, 2019
- IBM unveils its first commercial quantum computer - January 9th, 2019
- A new type of quantum computer has smashed every record ... - December 21st, 2018
- China bet big on quantum computing. Now the US races to ... - October 26th, 2018
- US takes first step toward a quantum computing workforce ... - September 17th, 2018
- China bet big on quantum computing. Now the ... - money.cnn.com - September 17th, 2018
- The reality of quantum computing could be just three years ... - September 12th, 2018
- The quantum computing race the US cant afford to lose - September 3rd, 2018
- Quantum Computing | USRA - August 30th, 2018
- What Is Quantum Computing? The Complete WIRED Guide | WIRED - August 22nd, 2018
- Quantum Computing Market Research Report- Forecast 2022 | MRFR - August 1st, 2018
- Two Quantum Computing Bills Are Coming To Congress - July 5th, 2018
- Senate bills would make quantum computing a priority - June 10th, 2018
- What is quantum computing? - Definition from WhatIs.com - February 5th, 2018
- The Era of Quantum Computing Is Here. Outlook: Cloudy ... - January 26th, 2018
- IBM puts its quantum computer to work in relaxing, nerdy ASMR ... - January 8th, 2018
- Quantum computing is going to change the world. Here's what ... - January 8th, 2018
- Is Quantum Computing an Existential Threat to Blockchain ... - December 25th, 2017
- What is Quantum Computing? | SAP News Center - December 23rd, 2017
- Quantum Computing Explained | What is Quantum Computing? - December 21st, 2017
- New silicon structure opens the gate to quantum computers - December 14th, 2017
- Microsoft offers developers a preview of its quantum ... - December 12th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Is the Next Big Security Risk | WIRED - December 8th, 2017
- Yale Professors Race Google and IBM to the First Quantum ... - November 16th, 2017
- IBM's processor pushes quantum computing ... - engadget.com - November 16th, 2017