Seven Bits About Quantum Computing
Though quantum computers have yet to become reality, there are a number of basic facts one should understand: (1) Quantum computers will not be replacing classical computers. (2) Solving 2^100 could be done in one operation with a quantum computer. (3) Classical systems will be augmented with a quantum computing co-processor; creating a hybrid-system. (4) 50-qubits (stable ones) is considered the tipping point where quantum will finally reign supreme over classical in that a quantum computer with 50 or more stable qubits is expected to be able to produce results to problems classical systems are incapable of ever producing. (5) Stability. 50 qubits are useless if they are not stable; referred to as “coherent”. (6) Quantum software is, as of yet, largely un-explored. (7) Error-correction of qubits is needed to be able to carry a computation through to the end… Thanks to Nick Heath’s work in TechRepublic. July 27, 2018.
Using Qubits to Counter Qubit Errors…
…without generating more errors or collapsing “the entire enterprise.” July 26, 2018.
Killer App: Chemistry Modeled
University of Sydney physicists exploring uses of quantum computers in modeling chemical bonds have achieved another first. Using 4 qubits from a 20 qubit systems, the team simulated hydrogen and lithium hydride. Use of the molecular hydrogen and lithium hydride were ideal as they are well-understood. This provided a test-case for quantum computing and chemical simulation. July 25, 2018.
Encryption Is In Danger; What About Hashing?
“The goal of a good hash function is to make it extremely difficult for attackers to find ways of generating inputs that hash to the same value…” Quantum computing is certainly a veritable threat to encryption. But what about its sister cryptographic apparatus, the hash? Arguably as important as encryption, the hash provides vital services to verifying data integrity. How much of a threat is quantum computing to this function? July 25, 2018.
Ytterbium: Rare Earth; Make QC Networks Commonplace?
French and Swiss research teams have tested varying amplitude and direction of magnetic fields around atoms of the rare earth element, Ytterbium. The teams have found a “magic point” which permits a thousand-fold increase in coherence. Such a discovery helps move along the concept of building quantum computing networks with the aid of quantum repeaters. High-coherence (longevity) is needed to ensure signals sent are alive for the entire distance to the receiver, or the next repeater as the case may be. July 24, 2018.
The Qubit Report
“What is DARPA really requesting?” The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Services Office (DSO) recently released a request for information (RFI), DARPA-SN-18-68, “Quantum Computing Applications with State of the Art Capabilities”. The DSO looks back to Richard Feynman’s discussion on solving science’s hard problems through quantum computing. A hard problem DARPA has identified is the speed of learning, or lack thereof, in machine learning, or ML. In the DARPA RFI, four challenges were identified:
Challenge 1: “Fundamental limits to quantum computing.”
Challenge 2: Hybrid approaches to machine learning; particularly approaches which allow rapid development of a quantum-classical computing hybrid performing ML functions with significant speed improvement.
Challenge 3: “Interfacing quantum sensors with quantum computing resources.”
Challenge 4: “Quantum computing-inspired algorithms and processes applicable to classical computers.”
So what is DARPA really asking for?
It appears Challenge 1 and Challenge 3 ask basic quantum computing capabilities questions. It is Challenge 2 and Challenge 4 where DARPA asks for the immediate, near-term fill to enhance machine learning and artificial intelligence. DARPA is looking for machine leaning approaches which are available now or soon. To do so entails heavy reliance on classical computing as quantum computing has not quite arrived.
The request for information asks for data regarding the development of quantum computing algorithms (referred to as ‘subroutines’) using minimal resources. Key gaps are: The number of qubits needed per amount of machine learning speed increase; is a cross-domain solution between the quantum system and the classical system in existence or does one require development; and, will the classical systems and quantum systems be able to translate computations between one another. Challenge 4 looks at determining what off-shoots from quantum computing research have been brought into the classical computing world. From our research, there has not been an overt indication of “QC inspired” classical computing solutions developed and implemented. This is not to state it has not been happening; it just may well be inherent in the scientific research conducted to date. DARPA does ask if there are efforts to identify QC inspired algorithms, and if so, what those efforts look like: “Are better classical architectures” being developed from quantum computing research?
The bottom line, in our estimation, is that DARPA is looking to meld nascent quantum computers with robust classical systems for the purpose of machine learning; implementable in the shortest period of time ergo, now.
Does this fit solving one of Feynman’s hard problems of science with quantum computing?
Qubit (July 24, 2018)
Because Quantum is Coming
Quantum-Secure Encryption in Your Smartphone
A team affiliated with the University of Bristol has devised a tiny (1 mm square) random number generator which generates numbers at 2.8 Gbps speeds using silicon photonics technology found in semiconductor fabrication methods. This rate of photon generation and its inherent randomness coupled with a “very low” power consumption give this QRNG potential to secure encryption at the mobile-device level. July 24, 2018.
Quantum Sensing and Error-Correction
Decoherence is a grind on the effort to move quantum computing forward. Efforts to overcome decoherence, the loss of a coherent state, is a field of much research. Scientists at MIT have published a method to help resolve part of the issue which is a failing to correct the dominant noise type in quantum sensors. Their method exploits spatial correlations involving qubits and tailors the error-corrections to the “noise” vice temporal correlations between signal properties and noise. Full report and discussion is available, below. July 23, 2018.
Theory of Quantum Computation, Communication and Cryptography (TQC)
The Aussie’s have much to be proud of when it comes to quantum computing research efforts. Microsoft, Google, and IBM each have vested interest in Australia’s centers for quantum science. Last week, the annual Theory of Quantum Computation, Communication and Cryptography (TQC) Conference was held, coupled with the Quantum Software and Quantum Machine Learning international workshops. But the conference is not all that should make Australia proud in their effort on the quantum computing front. July 23, 2018.
Canada’s Anti-Stealth Aircraft Radar; Quantum-enabled
Canada’s Department of National Defence’s All Domain Situational Awareness S&T program is putting up a substantial financial investment to develop a stealth aircraft detecting radar using quantum physics. The anti-stealth quantum radar will alert of the approach of a stealth aircraft without giving the aircraft notice it has been detected. It is hoped the cutting edge system will help fill the coming radar station gap along Canada’s northern border expected circa 2025. July 23, 2018.
Google’s Cirq and OpenFermion-Cirq
Google is gearing up to make Bristlecone available as a cloud computing platform. Bristlecone, Google’s nascent quantum computing platform, will be programmable with Cirq and OpenFermion-Cirq. Cirq, Google’s newly released open-source developer platform, permits quantum algorithm development without requiring a background in quantum physics. It’s twin, OpenFermion-Cirq is tailored to creating chemistry applications; a space likely to be used with quantum computing’s first wave of efforts. July 20, 2018.
China’s Quantum Computing Efforts in Testimony to U.S. House.
Testimony delivered to the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence leaves the winner of the “decades long marathon to develop a fully functional quantum computer” up in the air. Other testimony stated active research is being conducted on “quantum radar, imaging, and navigation technologies” by the Chinese defense industry. Further details are found in this research piece. July 19, 2018.
Argument: QC Will Not Destabilize International Security
This work argues quantum computing will not destabilize our world. Two foundational points are made: “Uncertainty [is] an important cause of war” and “institutions [are] an important source of information”. Though requiring some time to read and digest, the argument put forth in this working paper is worth the time for those whose mindset is strategic. July 17, 2018.
Australia: Controlling Qubits on Silicon
Australia, in collaboration with U.S.A.’s Purdue University, surged forward with controlling qubits individually on silicon chips. The ability to control qubits singly is seen paramount to moving ahead in making quantum computing a reality. Additional positive findings were error-reductions in the system due to the ability to control qubits individually when in proximity to each other. This brings quantum computing one step closer to complex computations involving entangled states. July 17, 2018.
China’s Entangling Photons to Detect Stealth Aircraft
Go back two years to September, 2016, and China’s Electronics Technology Group Corporation’s 14th Institute announced completion of a quantum radar, albeit with a short range of 60 miles (100 km). A microwave beam is used to entangle photons with an optical “idler beam”. The microwave beam is sent from the radar, strikes the stealth target, and returns to the radar site. At the site, the microwave photons are compared with the idler beam photons. Hence, not using radio waves which stealth aircraft are designed to thwart, the photons are capable of providing the position of the stealth aircraft. From this, direction, speed, and other data may be gleaned. It is surmised the radar may be part of the sensor-suite to be carried aboard China’s sub-space airship, Yuanmeng (see image). July 13, 2018.
Double-Encryption Mitigates Quantum Threat?
Quantum is coming. When is up for debate. If tomorrow a nation-state announced it had a quantum computer breaking encryption in mere minutes or seconds, would your data be secure? There are ways to mitigate the threat now, before it actually arrives. Crypto-agility is a relatively new term which implies the ability to rapidly change the encryption algorithm being used to encrypt data, be it the data is in motion or at rest. Double-encryption is another method. Employing post-quantum cryptographic algorithms is still, another. July 16, 2018.
A Big Concern: Ugly Threat from Quantum
Though the threats from quantum computing are being construed in many different ways, this quote sums up one of the greatest: “Hackers, with many of them supported by nation-states, are actively skimming and stealing encrypted data right now, even though it would take them thousands of years to crack it with current technology.” And they’re storing it so when it can be decrypted [hacked], it will be. July 12, 2018.
Quantum Computing and YOUR Job…
Quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data are all part of the transformative technologies blossoming today. Some call these “disruptive technologies”. Though they may look disruptive at first, history shows technology takes time to change the way we humans operate. Classical computing hit the home and workplace during the 1980’s and into the 1990’s. But before productivity increased with this prolific technology, there was a drop in productivity at the introduction. Fall back to the outset of electricity and the steam engine. The steam engine came about to pump water out of coal mines; electricity lit an office. Adapting these inventions took years before they transformed society. So, will quantum computing, AI, and Big Data, amongst others, take YOUR job? Interesting and thought provoking piece by David Donaldson. July 12, 2018.
Big Blue Down Under Awarded A$1 Billion
International Business Machines (IBM), also known as “Big Blue”, has been awarded nearly $750 million U.S. dollars by the Australian government. Quantum computing is ear-marked in the spending. Australia anticipates bringing artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and blockchain into the government’s fold. The quest is to be one of the top digital governments within the next ten years. This deal serves to reduce cost while speeding up the arrival of the Australian government’s digital transformation. July 10, 2018.
The Joint Quantum Institute and the University of Maryland have created a transistor that is activated by photon interactions. Enabled by a semiconductor chip, the device is the first single-photon transistor. Astonishingly small, it is quite capable. Millions of these transistors could reside within the space of a grain of salt. Yet, the device is able to process nearly 10 billion qubits per second. The device shows promise in advancing quantum computers. July 7, 2018.
Quantum Computation and Quantum Algorithms
Educating ourselves in the fundamentals of quantum computing [or the theory of it] is paramount to understanding even the simplest of quantum topics. This series has two parts: Part 1 breaks down ‘quantum weirdness’ into its constituent parts ~ qubits, spin…Part 2 delves into quantum algorithms from quantum-safe cryptography across Shor’s algorithm to the prospects of machine learning being combined with quantum computing. July 7, 2018.
Diamonds as Repeaters for Q Networks…
Difficulty in maintaining the quantum state of subatomic particles is a major challenge in developing quantum computers. Princeton researchers have managed to maintain quantum data through use of diamonds infused with two carbon atoms per every silicon atom. These ‘flawed’ diamonds ‘could serve as quantum repeaters for networks based on qubits’ just as current networking systems have repeaters to keep signals strong between sender and receiver. Through collaboration with industry, the researchers created electrically neutral, flawed diamonds. The silicon vacancy, as it is called, is capable of transmitting quantum state via photons while storing it using electrons. Both aspects are necessary to create entangled qubits which are needed to create verifiably secure communication channels (cybersecurity). Well-written piece at the below link. July 6, 2018.
6 Photons x 3 Degrees of Freedom = 18 Qubits of Entanglement
Renowned researcher, Pan Jianwei, lead a team of physicists from the University of Science and Technology of China with others from Alibaba’s Quantum Computing Laboratory. The research demonstrated entanglement of 6 photons, creating 18 qubits. The entanglements exploited three degrees of freedom encompassing their polarization, orbital angular momentum, and path. This nearly doubles the previous record of 10 entangled qubits. July 5, 2018.
Sweden Joins the Quantum Race
In ten years’ time, Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology (Wallenberg Center for Quantum Technology) anticipates having constructed a 100 qubit quantum computer. Today’s estimates are that around 50 qubits are needed to surpass supercomputing capabilities. The Chalmer’s research team being put together will also focus on superconducting qubits and methods to control and link the finicky subatomic particles. A necessity to developing a quantum computer. The $1B investment will employ 15 team members who will also team with industry. Already, Jeppesen, in the aviation industry, and Astrazeneca, a drug manufacturer, have begun collaboration with Chalmers. All stand to gain from the realization of a quantum computer. July 6, 2018.
Quantum Learning Machine?
Simulating qubits is no small challenge. Atos’ recent work in modeling noise in quantum systems has allowed simulation of a 41 qubit machine. The anticipated studies with the new device will enable testing of quantum algorithms with artificial intelligence applications. There’s already buyers for the Atos QLM, including the U.S. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, France, and now Austria. July 5, 2018.
“Electron Quantum Optics”
The University of Adelaide is reporting the ability to fire one billion electrons per second using quantum mechanics; repeatedly. This is a major step to “reliable, continuous, and consistent” electron flow using quantum mechanics, a ‘must have’ for quantum computing. Clicking image takes you to schematic’s abstract. July 4, 2018.
U.S. Department of Energy Funding More Quantum Programs.
The U.S. Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, announced new Energy Frontier Research Centers. In particular, the EFRC at University of California, Berkley, will receive funding for the Center for Novel Pathways to Quantum Coherence in Materials. Focus of the center’s quantum studies will be toward the underlying coherence phenomena found in quantum physics. The coherence problem, rather, the problem of de-coherence, plagues advancement of quantum computing. It is hoped new approaches will be developed which enable palatable coherence or sidestep the issue altogether. From July 3, 2018, Ten Second Takes…
Going Practical. Personal Quantum Random Number Generator.
Spinoff technology from quantum computing research has produced what is hoped to be a game-changer in cryptographic key security. Quantum Base, a spinoff company from Lancaster University’s Quantum Technology Centre, believe they have solved the problem of true random number generation; made it scalable, and reduced its size such that it can fit in any tech device. Results in many of the random number generators in use for cryptographic keys are predictable be it due to quirks in the algorithm used to vulnerabilities in the device producing the pseudo random number. Studies with quantum tunneling in semiconductors, specifically, RTDs – resonant tunneling diodes – has enabled true quantum random number generation at room temperature. Cryptographic keys utilizing true random numbers may now be produced, say, in your smartphone to secure your data. The applications are many. July 3, 2018.
Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office is purportedly setting aside $80M (U.S.) for quantum computing research and development. The Israeli’s intend to join the elite group of nations capable of producing quantum computing systems. The preponderance of funding is ear-marked for the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. It is hoped the investment for developing Israel’s quantum systems will be on par with Israeli investment in cyberspace. Several of the world leaders in quantum technology – Microsoft, Intel, and IBM – are teaming with Israel’s centers of technology to assist the research. July 3, 2018.
Fresh Reminder…A Quantum Computing Primer
With the flurry of activity in the quantum computing world of late, The Qubit Report believes it’s time to take a step back. Time to remind ourselves — or just learn — what quantum computing is about fundamentally. Superposition, entanglement, fragility, and “no cloning”, are foundational to quantum computing. See this primer from Intel…July 1, 2018.