All kinds of things are hooked up to the Internet these days, but Jerry Chow's computer stands out. Chilled by liquid helium, his superconducting processor uses quantum physics to circumvent rules of everyday reality that limit the power of conventional computers. Chow manages IBM's quantum computing group at the company's Thomas J. Watson research center in Yorktown Heights, New York. The team launched a website today with an interface that lets outside programmers and researchers test algorithms on the new chip. Chow says he wants to get them ready for the undetermined point in the future when this exotic kind of cloud computer is ready for practical use.
By employing quantum-compatible machine learning techniques, they developed a method of extracting a rare Higgs boson signal from copious noise data. Higgs is the particle that was predicted to imbue elementary particles with mass and was discovered at the Large Hadron Collider in 2012. The new quantum machine learning method is found to perform well even with small datasets, unlike the standard counterparts. Despite the central role of physics in quantum computing, until now, no problem of interest for physics researchers has been resolved by quantum computing techniques. In this new work, the researchers successfully extracted meaningful information about Higgs particles by programming a quantum annealer--a type of quantum computer capable of only running optimization tasks--to sort through particle-measurement data littered with errors.
A Canadian firm has courted controversy with its claim to have built a practical quantum computer, a feat thought to be decades away. Now, independent researchers are trying to understand whether it really can tap the strange world of quantum physics. For the modest sum of $15m (£9m), a start-up near Vancouver will sell you a black box the size of a garden shed with its logo emblazoned on the side in white neon. What if I told you the contents of the box were kept colder than the temperature of interstellar space? How about this: The box contains a machine that can solve some of the thorniest mathematical problems and could revolutionise computing.
The company, which was named a World Eocnomic Forum Technology Pioneer in 2018, is working with customers in the health chemicals, material science and financial services industries. It raised $45 million in funding in November of last year and counts Fujitsu, Accenture and Allianz among its strategic investors. Quantum computing promises to allow computers to run thousands of times faster, enabling new applications that deliver things like more sophisticated molecular simulations for drug development, models of trafic patterns for optimizing transportation or richer artificial intelligence. However, major limitations must still be overcome. Computer scientists are still struggling to build a quantum computer with more than a handful of qubits.