Machine learning and quantum computing have their staggering levels of technology hype in common. But certain aspects of their mathematical foundations are also strikingly similar. In a paper in Nature, Havlíček et al.1 exploit this link to show how today's quantum computers can, in principle, be used to learn from data -- by mapping data into the space in which only quantum states exist. One of the first things one learns about quantum computers is that these machines are extremely difficult to simulate on a classical computer such as a desktop PC. In other words, classical computers cannot be used to obtain the results of a quantum computation.
A year ago this week, Chinese physicists launched the world's first quantum satellite. Unlike the dishes that deliver your Howard Stern and cricket tournaments, this 1,400-pound behemoth doesn't beam radio waves. Instead, the physicists designed it to send and receive bits of information encoded in delicate photons of infrared light. It's a test of a budding technology known as quantum communications, which experts say could be far more secure than any existing info relay system. They've kept the satellite busy.
That might not sound like much, but in the quantum computing arms race, several groups are edging past one another as they aim to eventually make a universal quantum computer. A group of researchers at the Joint Quantum Institute has created a quantum simulator using 53 quantum bits, or qubits. Earlier this month, IBM announced a 50-qubit prototype, though its capabilities are unclear. With this 53-qubit device, the researchers have done scientific simulations that don't seem to be possible
IBM continues to push its quantum computing efforts forward and today announced that it will soon make a 53-qubit quantum computer available to clients of its IBM Q Network. The new system, which is scheduled to go online in the middle of next month, will be the largest universal quantum computer available for external use yet. The new machine will be part of IBM's new Quantum Computation Center in New York State, which the company also announced today. The new center, which is essentially a data center for IBM's quantum machines, will also feature five 20-qubit machines, but that number will grow to 14 within the next month. IBM promises a 95% service availability for its quantum machines.