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  • richardmitnick 4:58 pm on November 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Quantum Circuits Company, Quantum Computing, , , Robert Schoelkopf is at the forefront of a worldwide effort to build the world’s first quantum computer,   

    From NYT: “Yale Professors Race Google and IBM to the First Quantum Computer” 

    New York Times

    The New York Times

    NOV. 13, 2017

    Prof. Robert Schoelkopf inside a lab at Yale University. Quantum Circuits, the start-up he has created with two of his fellow professors, is located just down the road. Credit Roger Kisby for The New York Times

    Robert Schoelkopf is at the forefront of a worldwide effort to build the world’s first quantum computer. Such a machine, if it can be built, would use the seemingly magical principles of quantum mechanics to solve problems today’s computers never could.

    Three giants of the tech world — Google, IBM, and Intel — are using a method pioneered by Mr. Schoelkopf, a Yale University professor, and a handful of other physicists as they race to build a machine that could significantly accelerate everything from drug discovery to artificial intelligence. So does a Silicon Valley start-up called Rigetti Computing. And though it has remained under the radar until now, those four quantum projects have another notable competitor: Robert Schoelkopf.

    After their research helped fuel the work of so many others, Mr. Schoelkopf and two other Yale professors have started their own quantum computing company, Quantum Circuits.

    Based just down the road from Yale in New Haven, Conn., and backed by $18 million in funding from the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and others, the start-up is another sign that quantum computing — for decades a distant dream of the world’s computer scientists — is edging closer to reality.

    “In the last few years, it has become apparent to us and others around the world that we know enough about this that we can build a working system,” Mr. Schoelkopf said. “This is a technology that we can begin to commercialize.”

    Quantum computing systems are difficult to understand because they do not behave like the everyday world we live in. But this counterintuitive behavior is what allows them to perform calculations at rate that would not be possible on a typical computer.

    Today’s computers store information as “bits,” with each transistor holding either a 1 or a 0. But thanks to something called the superposition principle — behavior exhibited by subatomic particles like electrons and photons, the fundamental particles of light — a quantum bit, or “qubit,” can store a 1 and a 0 at the same time. This means two qubits can hold four values at once. As you expand the number of qubits, the machine becomes exponentially more powerful.

    Todd Holmdahl, who oversees the quantum project at Microsoft, said he envisioned a quantum computer as something that could instantly find its way through a maze. “A typical computer will try one path and get blocked and then try another and another and another,” he said. “A quantum computer can try all paths at the same time.”

    The trouble is that storing information in a quantum system for more than a short amount of time is very difficult, and this short “coherence time” leads to errors in calculations. But over the past two decades, Mr. Schoelkopf and other physicists have worked to solve this problem using what are called superconducting circuits. They have built qubits from materials that exhibit quantum properties when cooled to extremely low temperatures.

    With this technique, they have shown that, every three years or so, they can improve coherence times by a factor of 10. This is known as Schoelkopf’s Law, a playful ode to Moore’s Law, the rule that says the number of transistors on computer chips will double every two years.

    Professor Schoelkopf, left, and Prof. Michel Devoret working on a device that can reach extremely low temperatures to allow a quantum computing device to function. Credit Roger Kisby for The New York Times

    “Schoelkopf’s Law started as a joke, but now we use it in many of our research papers,” said Isaac Chuang, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “No one expected this would be possible, but the improvement has been exponential.”

    These superconducting circuits have become the primary area of quantum computing research across the industry. One of Mr. Schoelkopf’s former students now leads the quantum computing program at IBM. The founder of Rigetti Computing studied with Michel Devoret, one of the other Yale professors behind Quantum Circuits.

    In recent months, after grabbing a team of top researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Google indicated it is on the verge of using this method to build a machine that can achieve “quantum supremacy” — when a quantum machine performs a task that would be impossible on your laptop or any other machine that obeys the laws of classical physics.

    There are other areas of research that show promise. Microsoft, for example, is betting on particles known as anyons. But superconducting circuits appear likely to be the first systems that will bear real fruit.

    The belief is that quantum machines will eventually analyze the interactions between physical molecules with a precision that is not possible today, something that could radically accelerate the development of new medications. Google and others also believe that these systems can significantly accelerate machine learning, the field of teaching computers to learn tasks on their own by analyzing data or experiments with certain behavior.

    A quantum computer could also be able to break the encryption algorithms that guard the world’s most sensitive corporate and government data. With so much at stake, it is no surprise that so many companies are betting on this technology, including start-ups like Quantum Circuits.

    The deck is stacked against the smaller players, because the big-name companies have so much more money to throw at the problem. But start-ups have their own advantages, even in such a complex and expensive area of research.

    “Small teams of exceptional people can do exceptional things,” said Bill Coughran, who helped oversee the creation of Google’s vast internet infrastructure and is now investing in Mr. Schoelkopf’s company as a partner at Sequoia. “I have yet to see large teams inside big companies doing anything tremendously innovative.”

    Though Quantum Circuits is using the same quantum method as its bigger competitors, Mr. Schoelkopf argued that his company has an edge because it is tackling the problem differently. Rather than building one large quantum machine, it is constructing a series of tiny machines that can be networked together. He said this will make it easier to correct errors in quantum calculations — one of the main difficulties in building one of these complex machines.

    But each of the big companies insist that they hold an advantage — and each is loudly trumpeting its progress, even if a working machine is still years away.

    Mr. Coughran said that he and Sequoia envision Quantum Circuits evolving into a company that can deliver quantum computing to any business or researcher that needs it. Another investor, Canaan’s Brendan Dickinson, said that if a company like this develops a viable quantum machine, it will become a prime acquisition target.

    “The promise of a large quantum computer is incredibly powerful,” Mr. Dickinson said. “It will solve problems we can’t even imagine right now.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 7:06 pm on November 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , IBM Just Announced an Insanely Powerful 50-Qubit Quantum Computer, Quantum Computing,   

    From Science Alert: “IBM Just Announced an Insanely Powerful 50-Qubit Quantum Computer” 


    Science Alert


    11 NOV 2017

    Published on Nov 10, 2017
    At the IEEE Industry Summit on the Future of Computing in Washington DC on Friday, IBM announced the development of a quantum computer capable of handling 50 qubits (quantum bits)….

    At the IEEE Industry Summit on the Future of Computing in Washington DC on Friday, IBM announced the development of a quantum computer capable of handling 50 qubits (quantum bits).

    This breakthrough puts IBM on the cutting edge of quantum computing research, as a 50-qubit machine is so far the largest and most powerful quantum computer ever built.

    Seen by experts as the future of advanced computing, a quantum computer performs rather differently compared to traditional computers. Instead of processing information using binary bits of 0s and 1s, a quantum computer uses qubits, which can simultaneously be a 0 and/or a 1.

    This is made possible by the quantum effects known as entanglement and superposition.

    Aside from their 50-qubit machine, IBM also has a 20-qubit quantum computing system that’s accessible to third-party users through their cloud computing platform.

    IBM managed to maintain the quantum state for both systems for a total of 90 microseconds. That may seem short – because it is – but it’s already a record feat in this growing industry, where one of the biggest challenges is sustaining the life of qubits.

    “We are really proud of this; it’s a big frickin’ deal,” IBM’s director for AI and quantum computing Dario Gil, who made Friday’s announcement, told the MIT Technology Review.

    A step closer

    IBM has been making significant advances in quantum computing ever since their researchers helped to create the field of quantum information processing. But they aren’t the only one in on the race to build working quantum computers.

    Google and Intel are also developing their own quantum computing systems, and San Francisco-based startup Rigetti wants to revolutionise the field.

    Meanwhile, Canadian quantum computing company D-Wave has already developed a couple of quantum computers which have been used by NASA and Google.

    A 50-qubit machine can perform extremely difficult computational tasks, but with Google suggesting that this many qubits could outclass the most powerful supercomputers, IBM’s machine isn’t yet ready for widespread, commercial, or personal use.

    Like all of today’s quantum computers, IBM’s 50- and 20-qubit systems still require highly specialised conditions to operate.

    Furthermore, as University of Maryland professor Andrew Childs pointed out to MIT Tech Review, IBM hasn’t yet published the details of their new machine in a peer-reviewed journal.

    “IBM’s team is fantastic and it’s clear they’re serious about this, but without looking at the details it’s hard to comment,” he said, adding that more qubits doesn’t necessarily translate to a leap in computational ability.

    “Those qubits might be noisy, and there could be issues with how well connected they are.”

    At the very least, this development is bringing us one step closer to a future where quantum computing transforms how we process information and helps us to solve many of the world’s most difficult problems.

    IBM is set on making their quantum computer work, and they’re expected to announce an upgrade to their quantum cloud software today. “We’re at world record pace. But we’ve got to make sure non-physicists can use this,” Gil told the MIT Tech Review.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 10:05 am on November 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A computer for completely new problems, , Basel researchers lead the field, , Collaboration with industrial partner IBM, Quantum Computing, ,   

    From U Basel: “The second revolution in quantum physics” 


    U Basel

    Dominik Zumbühl

    Dominik Zumbühl, U Basel

    Quantum physics promises to deliver revolutionary new technologies such as the quantum computer – with far-reaching consequences for the economy and society. For many years, the University of Basel has been playing a pioneering role in quantum research.

    Simple Atomic Quantum Memory Suitable for Semiconductor Quantum Dot Single Photons

    We have demonstrated a quantum memory in warm Rb vapor with on-demand storage and retrieval, based on electromagnetically induced transparency, and with an acceptance bandwidth of δf=0.66 GHz. This memory is suitable for single photons emitted by semiconductor quantum dots. In this regime, vapor cell memories offer an excellent compromise between storage efficiency, storage time, noise level, and experimental complexity, and atomic collisions have negligible influence on the optical coherences. These results were published in Physical Review Letters 119, 060502.

    In the first third of the 20th century, physicists such as Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, and Werner Heisenberg fundamentally changed the way we understand nature. With the development of quantum mechanics, a theory was emerging that would challenge human understanding and intuition. Its pioneers were simultaneously astonished and bewildered, and used thought experiments to try to illustrate the paradoxical consequences of the new theory. In the most famous example, Schrödinger describes a cat that, according to the laws of quantum physics, is alive and dead at the same time. However absurd ideas like this may seem, quantum theory is now seen as one of the greatest achievements in science and has revolutionized the way we see the world.

    Over the last 20 years or so, quantum physics has given rise to a second revolution. With a steady stream of new experiments, scientists have shown that we can use the crazy world of quantum physics to do useful things that would be impossible in classical physics.

    Today, highly sensitive quantum sensors allow us to measure magnetic fields faster and more accurately than ever before. In the near future, quantum physics could pave the way for secure communication channels. In the past, medical diagnostic devices such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners have been developed based on the laws of quantum physics.

    A computer for completely new problems

    Quantum physics offers breathtaking potential for innovation. Against this backdrop, physicists at the University of Basel are pursuing the vision of a computer that takes advantage of the laws of quantum mechanics.

    A quantum computer can perform a large number of computing operations in parallel. It is therefore incredibly fast and solves problems in a matter of hours that would take today’s supercomputers billions of years. Whereas the latest supercomputers contain a billion transistors, a quantum computer would contain a billion quantum bits (qubits). While classical bits can adopt only states of 0 or 1, qubits allow you to define more than just two states. In the future, their sheer computing power could allow us to answer questions we have not even dared to ask yet. It is conceivable, for example, that we will be able to create molecules and therefore materials with previously unknown properties: new types of pharmaceutical active substances, for example. Or superconductors for transporting electricity without loss at room temperature. Or chlorophyll-like substances that convert sunlight into useful energy. Until now, innovative substances tended to be discovered by chance. However, in the future, quantum computers could allow scientists to design materials with desirable properties in a targeted manner.

    The quantum computer is a highly promising innovation. Its realization is now the subject of work by leading researchers from Harvard to Tokyo. One promising implementation is based on an idea, formulated 20 years ago by the physicist Daniel Loss, that the angular momentum (spin) of individual electrons can be used as the smallest information carrier in a quantum computer. In laboratories around the world, qubits of this kind are considered the most promising candidates for building a quantum computer. The idea’s originator, Daniel Loss, works in Basel and devotes his time to developing a Basel qubit. Manufactured from a semiconducting material, this qubit is extremely small and fast. As silicon is a thoroughly tried-and-tested material for computer chips, silicon qubits offer key advantages over other qubit concepts. Developing a qubit is the overarching objective of Basel’s physics department, where 12 professors are channeling the expertise of their research teams into achieving this common goal.

    Basel researchers lead the field

    Let me state clearly the magnitude of the challenge: the Department of Physics at the University of Basel is not an industrial laboratory seeking to build a quantum computer in the next few months or years. Rather, we are carrying out research on the foundations of the quantum computer. Research of this kind is very time-consuming but has the potential to bring about genuine innovations. It is worth remembering that, after the transistor was discovered in 1947, it took half a century for personal computers and mobile phones to make their way into our everyday lives and to turn the world of work upside down. With regard to the quantum computer, the marathon has only just begun. Today, companies like Microsoft, Google, and Intel are pinning their hopes on the quantum computer as they realize that the increasing miniaturization of classical CMOS chips is reaching its limits. Basel’s ambition is to be among the front-runners.

    So far, we’ve been making great progress. In recent years, Basel’s physicists have secured eight of the prestigious grants from the European Research Council (ERC), with the last two going to our professors Jelena Klinovaja and Ilaria Zardo. This success demonstrates the excellence of our research portfolio. Many young researchers are attracted to the brilliance of the quantum research carried out in Basel. Operating since autumn 2016, the PhD school for “Quantum Computing and Quantum Technologies” currently brings together 20 doctoral researchers. In addition, generous support from the Georg H. Endress Foundation will allow us to set up a cross-border postdoc cluster in cooperation with the University of Freiburg from January 2018. As a result, there will be ten additional scientists working in the field of quantum computing. This initiative is modeled on foundations in the US that provide funding for postdocs at top centers of research.

    Collaboration with industrial partner IBM

    There are some critical decisions that we currently have to make in the field of quantum physics in order to further strengthen this strategic focus at the University of Basel. These include participation in the EU’s billion-euro flagship project on quantum technologies, which is planned to begin next year. At present, we are preparing an application for a National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) from the Swiss National Science Foundation with Basel as the leading house on the topic of scalable quantum computing.

    For this NCCR, we have chosen the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory as our main, coleading partner, together with other universities as partners. Our goal is to build silicon spin qubits. In 12 years, the ambitious target is to have a fully scalable logical qubit consisting of ca. 15 physical qubits. Although this is not yet a complete quantum computer, it does provide a copy-paste blueprint for a quantum chip.

    When the first concepts for a quantum computer emerged, they did so in Europe. With this as our starting point, we now have the opportunity to build the foundation of a new Silicon Valley. Research on the quantum computer is an investment in a future technology and therefore in Switzerland’s industrial base. Our laboratories are also currently home to a rising generation of experts who can understand, shape and disseminate this emergent technology. Only with their help can we succeed in turning the second revolution of quantum physics to the advantage of society as a whole.

    See the full article here .

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    The University of Basel fosters the development of critically thinking and tolerant individuals who are capable of taking initiative and taking on responsibility. It is the aim of the University to enable these individuals to deepen their knowledge and field-specific academic training and further education.

    Through research and teaching, the University imparts the insights past down over the ages in addition to producing new knowledge. It is guided by the principle of meaningfulness and purpose rather than feasibility.

    The University is aware of the duties arising from knowledge, fulfilling these duties through critical reflection and the services it provides. It takes its own position concerning problems facing society.

    The University realizes its aims by taking responsibility with respect to future generations, the society that supports them, the international academic community and the culture that is passed down from generation to generation.

  • richardmitnick 3:15 pm on November 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Quantum Computing   

    From CfA: “A New Kind of Quantum Computer” 

    Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    Center For Astrophysics

    November 3, 2017

    A photograph of Google’s 1000+ qubit computer chip under development. CfA scientists and their colleagues have proposed a new way to use photons of light instead of silicon chips as qubits, opening the door to new technologies. WIRED

    Quantum mechanics incorporates some very non-intuitive properties of matter. Quantum superposition, for example, allows an atom to be simultaneously in two different states with its spin axis pointed both up and down, or combinations in between. A computer that uses quantum mechanical manipulation of atoms or particles therefore has many more possible options than a conventional one that works with “zeros” and “ones” and has only two choices, called bits. A quantum computer’s memory uses instead what are called quantum bits – qubits – and each qubit can be in a superposition of these two states. As a result, theoretical physicists estimate a quantum computer with only about one hundred of these qubits could in principle exceed the computing power of the powerful current classical computers. Building a quantum computer is therefore one of the main technological goals in modern physics and astrophysics.

    CfA physicist Hannes Pichler, of the CfA’s Institute for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (ITAMP), and three colleagues have proposed a new way to build a quantum computer using just a single atom. Light quanta (photons) can be used as information carriers and act as qubits, but to use them in a quantum computer they must interact with each other. Under normal conditions, however, light does not interact with itself and so the challenge is to create correlations between them. The key idea of their new paper is to allow light photons from an atom to interact with their own mirror image reflections Photons that the atom emits are reflected by the mirror and can interact again with the atom but with a very slight time delay. That delay, the scientists show, results in the combined waveform of the photons being so complex that in principle any quantum computation can be achieved by simply measuring the emitted photons.

    The theoretical discovery is not only a conceptual breakthrough in quantum optics and information, it opens the door to new technology. In particular, the proposed single atom setup is appealing since it minimizes the resources needed and relies only on elements that have already been demonstrated in state-of the-art experiments.

    Science paper:
    Universal Photonic Quantum Computation via Time-Delayed Feedback, PNAS

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    The Center for Astrophysics combines the resources and research facilities of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under a single director to pursue studies of those basic physical processes that determine the nature and evolution of the universe. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1890. The Harvard College Observatory (HCO), founded in 1839, is a research institution of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, and provides facilities and substantial other support for teaching activities of the Department of Astronomy.

  • richardmitnick 11:50 am on November 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Excited states, Neural nets, , Quantum annealer, Quantum Computing   

    From Caltech: “Physics Boosts Artificial Intelligence Methods” 

    Caltech Logo


    Whitney Clavin
    (626) 395-1856

    Written by Mark H. Kim

    Higgs “di-photon” event candidate from Large Hadron Collider data collisions overlaid with a schematic of a wafer of quantum processors.
    Credit: LHC Image: CERN/CMS Experiment; Composite: M. Spiropulu (Caltech)

    Researchers from Caltech and the University of Southern California (USC) report the first application of quantum computing to a physics problem. 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. Caltech’s Maria Spiropulu, the Shang-Yi Ch’en Professor of Physics, conceived the project and collaborated with Daniel Lidar, pioneer of the quantum machine learning methodology and Viterbi Professor of Engineering at USC who is also a Distinguished Moore Scholar in Caltech’s divisions of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy and Engineering and Applied Science.

    The quantum program seeks patterns within a dataset to tell meaningful data from junk. It is expected to be useful for problems beyond high-energy physics. The details of the program as well as comparisons to existing techniques are detailed in a paper published on October 19 in the journal Nature.

    A popular computing technique for classifying data is the neural network method, known for its efficiency in extracting obscure patterns within a dataset. The patterns identified by neural networks are difficult to interpret, as the classification process does not reveal how they were discovered. Techniques that lead to better interpretability are often more error prone and less efficient.

    “Some people in high-energy physics are getting ahead of themselves about neural nets, but neural nets aren’t easily interpretable to a physicist,” says USC’s physics graduate student Joshua Job, co-author of the paper and guest student at Caltech. The new quantum program is “a simple machine learning model that achieves a result comparable to more complicated models without losing robustness or interpretability,” says Job.

    With prior techniques, the accuracy of classification depends strongly on the size and quality of a training set, which is a manually sorted portion of the dataset. This is problematic for high-energy physics research, which revolves around rare events buried in large amount of noise data. “The Large Hadron Collider generates a huge number of events, and the particle physicists have to look at small packets of data to figure out which are interesting,” says Job. The new quantum program “is simpler, takes very little training data, and could even be faster. We obtained that by including the excited states,” says Spiropulu.

    Excited states of a quantum system have excess energy that contributes to errors in the output. “Surprisingly, it was actually advantageous to use the excited states, the suboptimal solutions,” says Lidar.

    “Why exactly that’s the case, we can only speculate. But one reason might be that the real problem we have to solve is not precisely representable on the quantum annealer. Because of that, suboptimal solutions might be closer to the truth,” says Lidar.

    Modeling the problem in a way that a quantum annealer can understand proved to be a substantial challenge that was successfully tackled by Spiropulu’s former graduate student at Caltech, Alex Mott (PhD ’15), who is now at DeepMind. “Programming quantum computers is fundamentally different from programming classical computers. It’s like coding bits directly. The entire problem has to be encoded at once, and then it runs just once as programmed,” says Mott.

    Despite the improvements, the researchers do not assert that quantum annealers are superior. The ones currently available are simply “not big enough to even encode physics problems difficult enough to demonstrate any advantage,” says Spiropulu.

    “It’s because we’re comparing a thousand qubits—quantum bits of information—to a billion transistors,” says Jean-Roch Vlimant, a postdoctoral scholar in high energy physics at Caltech. “The complexity of simulated annealing will explode at some point, and we hope that quantum annealing will also offer speedup,” says Vlimant.

    The researchers are actively seeking further applications of the new quantum-annealing classification technique. “We were able to demonstrate a very similar result in a completely different application domain by applying the same methodology to a problem in computational biology,” says Lidar. “There is another project on particle-tracking improvements using such methods, and we’re looking for new ways to examine charged particles,” says Vlimant.

    “The result of this work is a physics-based approach to machine learning that could benefit a broad spectrum of science and other applications,” says Spiropulu. “There is a lot of exciting work and discoveries to be made in this emergent cross-disciplinary arena of science and technology, she concludes.

    This project was supported by the United States Department of Energy, Office of High Energy Physics, Research Technology, Computational HEP; and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory as well as the National Science Foundation. The work was also supported by the AT&T Foundry Innovation Centers through INQNET (INtelligent Quantum NEtworks and Technologies), a program for accelerating quantum technologies.

    See the full article here .

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    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

  • richardmitnick 10:00 am on October 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Quantum Computing   

    From Futurism: “NSA Warns of the Dangers of Quantum Computing” 



    Cryptography in the Post-Quantum Era

    The super-secretive National Security Agency (NSA) is sounding an alarm: beware the code-breaking power of the coming quantum computer revolution.


    And when the NSA is worried about something, we should all be worried.

    The Orwellian-sounding Information Assurance Directorate at the NSA released a Q&A-style memorandum last month, which bears the unwieldy title of “Commercial National Security Algorithm Suite and Quantum Computing FAQ.” It’s aimed at government departments and private sector contractors whose business is storing and safeguarding sensitive information.

    The purpose of the document is really to warn of the perceived threats of quantum computing, whose processing power will eventually defeat all “classical” encryption algorithms, and make current attempts at information security hopelessly inadequate.

    However, it’s more of a long-range issue.

    Quantum computing is still in its infancy, and it may be decades before such computers even have the computational wherewithal to tackle advanced cryptographic problems.

    Still, the NSA feels it’s best to be prepared, and plan ahead for any contingency that might arise.

    “The long lifetime of equipment in the military and many kinds of critical infrastructures…means that many of our customers and suppliers are required to plan protections that will be good enough to defeat any technologies that might arise within a few decades,” explains the NSA memo.

    “Many experts predict a quantum computer capable of effectively breaking public key cryptography within that timeframe, and therefore NSA believes it is important to address that concern.”

    “Quantum Resistant Cryptography”

    We’re a long way off from our first fully operational quantum computer, but there have been some significant advances in the field in recent years. Every week seems to bring news of a novel breakthrough, either in the technological hardware needed to make quantum computing a reality or in the weird world of subatomic particles that will serve such computers as “software.”

    The beauty of a quantum computer, especially when it comes to breaking encryption algorithms, is that by utilizing so-called “qubits,” or “quantum bits,” it’s capable of performing immense computations, and far swifter than today’s fastest supercomputers. It’s actually capable of executing multiple high-level computations at the same time, which pretty much means that today’s most sophisticated encryption techniques—developed for “classical” or binary computing—haven’t a chance against a dedicated quantum computer.

    And this knowledge has undoubtedly caused the number of Prilosec prescriptions at the NSA to skyrocket.

    Luckily for the furtive spy agency, the computational power required to crack current cryptography ranges into the hundreds of millions of qubits—far beyond even the most sanguine projections for quantum computing in the near future. And the authors of the memo hope that within the next decade, the agency will have at its disposal a number of options for “quantum resistant cryptography,” or “algorithms that are resistant to cryptographic attacks from both classical and quantum computers.”

    Whatever the case, it’s certain that the threats to privacy and information security will only multiply in the coming decades, and that data encryption will proceed in lockstep with new technological advances.

    See the full article here .

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    Futurism covers the breakthrough technologies and scientific discoveries that will shape humanity’s future. Our mission is to empower our readers and drive the development of these transformative technologies towards maximizing human potential.

  • richardmitnick 7:26 am on September 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A quantum computer that uses photons (light particles) as quantum bits (qubits), , Quantum Computing, , Qubits are entangled particles that can be either a one a zero or both at the same time, Researchers Claim They Just Invented The 'Ultimate' Method For Quantum Computing,   

    From Science Alert: “Researchers Claim They Just Invented The ‘Ultimate’ Method For Quantum Computing” 


    Science Alert


    27 SEPT 2017

    Today’s working quantum computers are already more powerful than their traditional computing counterparts, but a pair of researchers from the University of Tokyo think they’ve found a way to make these remarkable machines even more powerful.

    In a research paper published in Physical Review Letters, Akira Furusawa and Shuntaro Takeda detail their novel approach to quantum computing that should allow the machines to perform a far greater number of computations than other quantum computers.

    At the centre of their new method is a basic optical quantum computing system – a quantum computer that uses photons (light particles) as quantum bits (qubits) – that Furusawa devised in 2013.

    An artist’s representation of Caltech’s quantum memory chip. Image Credit: Ella Maru Studio

    This machine occupies a space of roughly 6.3 square metres (67 square feet) and can handle only a single pulse of light, and increasing its capabilities requires the connecting of several of these large units together.

    So instead of looking into ways to increase its power by expanding the system’s hardware, the researchers devised a way to make one machine accommodate many pulses of light via a loop circuit.

    In theory, multiple light pulses, each carrying information, could go around the circuit indefinitely. This would allow the circuit to perform multiple tasks, switching from one to another by instant manipulation of the light pulses.

    Unlike traditional binary bits that are either a one or a zero, qubits are entangled particles that can be either a one, a zero, or both at the same time.

    These qubits allow quantum computers to perform computations much faster than regular computers can, but most quantum computing models today can manipulate only a dozen or so qubits.

    Earlier this year, a team of Russian researchers revealed their quantum computer that could handle 51 qubits, and that was a huge breakthrough in the field.

    Furusawa and Takeda believe they’ve managed to go well beyond this, asserting in a press release that one of their circuits is theoretically capable of processing over a million qubits.

    That sort of computing power is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before. It would be enough to solve the greatest computing problems of today, facilitating breakthroughs in medical research or handling large datasets to improve machine learning models.

    But the next step for Furusawa and Takeda will be to actually translate their theory into a working model.

    “We’ll start work to develop the hardware, now that we’ve resolved all problems except how to make a scheme that automatically corrects a calculation error,” Furusawa said, according to The Japan Times.

    If it works as expected, this system may truly live up to its moniker as the “ultimate” quantum computing method.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 11:07 am on August 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , collections of ultracold molecules can retain the information stored in them for hundreds of times longer than researchers have previously achieved in these materials, , , Quantum Computing, Ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing   

    From MIT: “Ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing” 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

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    July 27, 2017
    David L. Chandler

    This vacuum chamber with apertures for several laser beams was used to cool molecules of sodium-potassium down to temperatures of a few hundred nanoKelvins, or billionths of a degree above absolute zero. Such molecules could be used as a new kind of qubit, a building block for eventual quantum computers. Courtesy of the researchers.

    New approach yields long-lasting configurations that could provide long-sought “qubit” material.

    Researchers have taken an important step toward the long-sought goal of a quantum computer, which in theory should be capable of vastly faster computations than conventional computers, for certain kinds of problems. The new work shows that collections of ultracold molecules can retain the information stored in them, for hundreds of times longer than researchers have previously achieved in these materials.

    These two-atom molecules are made of sodium and potassium and were cooled to temperatures just a few ten-millionths of a degree above absolute zero (measured in hundreds of nanokelvins, or nK). The results are described in a report this week in Science, by Martin Zwierlein, an MIT professor of physics and a principal investigator in MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics; Jee Woo Park, a former MIT graduate student; Sebastian Will, a former research scientist at MIT and now an assistant professor at Columbia University, and two others, all at the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms.

    Many different approaches are being studied as possible ways of creating qubits, the basic building blocks of long-theorized but not yet fully realized quantum computers. Researchers have tried using superconducting materials, ions held in ion traps, or individual neutral atoms, as well as molecules of varying complexity. The new approach uses a cluster of very simple molecules made of just two atoms.

    “Molecules have more ‘handles’ than atoms,” Zwierlein says, meaning more ways to interact with each other and with outside influences. “They can vibrate, they can rotate, and in fact they can strongly interact with each other, which atoms have a hard time doing. Typically, atoms have to really meet each other, be on top of each other almost, before they see that there’s another atom there to interact with, whereas molecules can see each other” over relatively long ranges. “In order to make these qubits talk to each other and perform calculations, using molecules is a much better idea than using atoms,” he says.

    Using this kind of two-atom molecules for quantum information processing “had been suggested some time ago,” says Park, “and this work demonstrates the first experimental step toward realizing this new platform, which is that quantum information can be stored in dipolar molecules for extended times.”

    “The most amazing thing is that [these] molecules are a system which may allow realizing both storage and processing of quantum information, using the very same physical system,” Will says. “That is actually a pretty rare feature that is not typical at all among the qubit systems that are mostly considered today.”

    In the team’s initial proof-of-principle lab tests, a few thousand of the simple molecules were contained in a microscopic puff of gas, trapped at the intersection of two laser beams and cooled to ultracold temperatures of about 300 nanokelvins. “The more atoms you have in a molecule the harder it gets to cool them,” Zwierlein says, so they chose this simple two-atom structure.

    The molecules have three key characteristics: rotation, vibration, and the spin direction of the nuclei of the two individual atoms. For these experiments, the researchers got the molecules under perfect control in terms of all three characteristics — that is, into the lowest state of vibration, rotation, and nuclear spin alignment.

    “We have been able to trap molecules for a long time, and also demonstrate that they can carry quantum information and hold onto it for a long time,” Zwierlein says. And that, he says, is “one of the key breakthroughs or milestones one has to have before hoping to build a quantum computer, which is a much more complicated endeavor.”

    The use of sodium-potassium molecules provides a number of advantages, Zwierlein says. For one thing, “the molecule is chemically stable, so if one of these molecules meets another one they don’t break apart.”

    In the context of quantum computing, the “long time” Zwierlein refers to is one second — which is “in fact on the order of a thousand times longer than a comparable experiment that has been done” using rotation to encode the qubit, he says. “Without additional measures, that experiment gave a millisecond, but this was great already.” With this team’s method, the system’s inherent stability means “you get a full second for free.”

    That suggests, though it remains to be proven, that such a system would be able to carry out thousands of quantum computations, known as gates, in sequence within that second of coherence. The final results could then be “read” optically through a microscope, revealing the final state of the molecules.

    “We have strong hopes that we can do one so-called gate — that’s an operation between two of these qubits, like addition, subtraction, or that sort of equivalent — in a fraction of a millisecond,” Zwierlein says. “If you look at the ratio, you could hope to do 10,000 to 100,000 gate operations in the time that we have the coherence in the sample. That has been stated as one of the requirements for a quantum computer, to have that sort of ratio of gate operations to coherence times.”

    “The next great goal will be to ‘talk’ to individual molecules. Then we are really talking quantum information,” Will says. “If we can trap one molecule, we can trap two. And then we can think about implementing a ‘quantum gate operation’ — an elementary calculation — between two molecular qubits that sit next to each other,” he says.

    Using an array of perhaps 1,000 such molecules, Zwierlein says, would make it possible to carry out calculations so complex that no existing computer could even begin to check the possibilities. Though he stresses that this is still an early step and that such computers could be a decade or more away, in principle such a device could quickly solve currently intractable problems such as factoring very large numbers — a process whose difficulty forms the basis of today’s best encryption systems for financial transactions.

    Besides quantum computing, the new system also offers the potential for a new way of carrying out precision measurements and quantum chemistry, Zwierlein says.

    “These results are truly state of the art,” says Simon Cornish, a professor of physics at Durham University in the U.K., who was not involved in this work. The findings “beautifully reveal the potential of exploiting nuclear spin states in ultracold molecules for applications in quantum information processing, as quantum memories and as a means to probe dipolar interactions and ultracold collisions in polar molecules,” he says. “I think the results constitute a major step forward in the field of ultracold molecules and will be of broad interest to the large community of researchers exploring related aspects of quantum science, coherence, quantum information, and quantum simulation.”

    The team also included MIT graduate student Zoe Yan and postdoc Huanqian Loh. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the U.S. Army Research Office, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 6:07 am on July 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Majorana fermion found, , Quantum Computing,   

    From Stanford: “An experiment proposed by Stanford theorists finds evidence for the Majorana fermion, a particle that’s its own antiparticle” 

    Stanford University Name
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    July 20, 2017
    Glennda Chui

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    In 1928, physicist Paul Dirac made the stunning prediction that every fundamental particle in the universe has an antiparticle – its identical twin but with opposite charge. When particle and antiparticle met they would be annihilated, releasing a poof of energy. Sure enough, a few years later the first antimatter particle – the electron’s opposite, the positron – was discovered, and antimatter quickly became part of popular culture.

    But in 1937, another brilliant physicist, Ettore Majorana, introduced a new twist: He predicted that in the class of particles known as fermions, which includes the proton, neutron, electron, neutrino and quark, there should be particles that are their own antiparticles.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    Now a team including Stanford scientists says it has found the first firm evidence of such a Majorana fermion.

    Credit: Image courtesy of Stanford University

    It was discovered in a series of lab experiments on exotic materials at the University of California in collaboration with Stanford University. The team was led by UC-Irvine Associate Professor Jing Xia and UCLA Professor Kang Wang, and followed a plan proposed by Shoucheng Zhang, professor of physics at Stanford, and colleagues. The team reported the results July 20 in Science.

    MAJORANAS IN MOTION Majorana fermions (blue, red, and purple lines) travel through a topological insulator (horizontal bar) with a superconductor layered on top in this illustration of new experiments to detect the fermions. Green lines indicate electrons travelling on the edges of the topological insulator. Beijing Sondii Technology Co Ltd.

    “Our team predicted exactly where to find the Majorana fermion and what to look for as its ‘smoking gun’ experimental signature,” said Zhang, a theoretical physicist and one of the senior authors of the research paper. “This discovery concludes one of the most intensive searches in fundamental physics, which spanned exactly 80 years.”

    Although the search for the famous fermion seems more intellectual than practical, he added, it could have real-life implications for building robust quantum computers, although this is admittedly far in the future.

    The particular type of Majorana fermion the research team observed is known as a “chiral” fermion because it moves along a one-dimensional path in just one direction. While the experiments that produced it were extremely difficult to conceive, set up and carry out, the signal they produced was clear and unambiguous, the researchers said.

    “This research culminates a chase for many years to find chiral Majorana fermions. It will be a landmark in the field,” said Tom Devereaux, director of the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, where Zhang is a principal investigator.

    “It does seem to be a really clean observation of something new,” said Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the study. “It’s not fundamentally surprising, because physicists have thought for a long time that Majorana fermions could arise out of the types of materials used in this experiment. But they put together several elements that had never been put together before, and engineering things so this new kind of quantum particle can be observed in a clean, robust way is a real milestone.”

    Search for ‘quasiparticles’

    Majorana’s prediction applied only to fermions that have no charge, like the neutron and neutrino. Scientists have since found an antiparticle for the neutron, but they have good reasons to believe that the neutrino could be its own antiparticle, and there are four experiments underway to find out – including EXO-200, the latest incarnation of the Enriched Xenon Observatory, in New Mexico. But these experiments are extraordinarily difficult and are not expected to produce an answer for about a decade.

    About 10 years ago, scientists realized that Majorana fermions might also be created in experiments that explore the physics of materials – and the race was on to make that happen.

    What they’ve been looking for are “quasiparticles” – particle-like excitations that arise out of the collective behavior of electrons in superconducting materials, which conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency. The process that gives rise to these quasiparticles is akin to the way energy turns into short-lived “virtual” particles and back into energy again in the vacuum of space, according to Einstein’s famous equation E = mc2. While quasiparticles are not like the particles found in nature, they would nonetheless be considered real Majorana fermions.

    Over the past five years, scientists have had some success with this approach, reporting that they had seen promising Majorana fermion signatures in experiments involving superconducting nanowires.

    But in those cases the quasiparticles were “bound” – pinned to one particular place, rather than propagating in space and time – and it was hard to tell if other effects were contributing to the signals researchers saw, Zhang said.

    A ‘smoking gun’

    In the latest experiments at UCLA and UC-Irvine, the team stacked thin films of two quantum materials – a superconductor and a magnetic topological insulator – and sent an electrical current through them, all inside a chilled vacuum chamber.

    The top film was a superconductor. The bottom one was a topological insulator, which conducts current only along its surface or edges but not through its middle. Putting them together created a superconducting topological insulator, where electrons zip along two edges of the material’s surface without resistance, like cars on a superhighway.

    It was Zhang’s idea to tweak the topological insulator by adding a small amount of magnetic material to it. This made the electrons flow one way along one edge of the surface and the opposite way along the opposite edge.

    Then the researchers swept a magnet over the stack. This made the flow of electrons slow, stop and switch direction. These changes were not smooth, but took place in abrupt steps, like identical stairs in a staircase.

    At certain points in this cycle, Majorana quasiparticles emerged, arising in pairs out of the superconducting layer and traveling along the edges of the topological insulator just as the electrons did. One member of each pair was deflected out of the path, allowing the researchers to easily measure the flow of the individual quasiparticles that kept forging ahead. Like the electrons, they slowed, stopped and changed direction – but in steps exactly half as high as the ones the electrons took.

    These half-steps were the smoking gun evidence the researchers had been looking for.

    The results of these experiments are not likely to have any effect on efforts to determine if the neutrino is its own antiparticle, said Stanford physics Professor Giorgio Gratta, who played a major role in designing and planning EXO-200.

    “The quasiparticles they observed are essentially excitations in a material that behave like Majorana particles,” Gratta said. “But they are not elementary particles and they are made in a very artificial way in a very specially prepared material. It’s very unlikely that they occur out in the universe, although who are we to say? On the other hand, neutrinos are everywhere, and if they are found to be Majorana particles we would show that nature not only has made this kind of particles possible but, in fact, has literally filled the universe with them.”

    He added, “Where it gets more interesting is that analogies in physics have proved very powerful. And even if they are very different beasts, different processes, maybe we can use one to understand the other. Maybe we will discover something that is interesting for us, too.”

    Angel particle

    Far in the future, Zhang said, Majorana fermions could be used to construct robust quantum computers that aren’t thrown off by environmental noise, which has been a big obstacle to their development. Since each Majorana is essentially half a subatomic particle, a single qubit of information could be stored in two widely separated Majorana fermions, decreasing the chance that something could perturb them both at once and make them lose the information they carry.

    For now, he suggests a name for the chiral Majorana fermion his team discovered: the “angel particle,” in reference to the best-selling 2000 thriller “Angels and Demons” in which a secret brotherhood plots to blow up the Vatican with a time bomb whose explosive power comes from matter-antimatter annihilation. Unlike in the book, he noted, in the quantum world of the Majorana fermion there are only angels – no demons.

    The materials used for this study were produced at UCLA by a team led by postdoctoral researcher Qing Lin He and graduate student Lei Pan. Scientists from the KACST Center for Excellence in Green Nanotechnology in Saudia Arabia, UC-Davis, Florida State University, Fudan University in Shanghai and Shanghai Tech University also contributed to the experiment. Major funding came from the SHINES Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center at UC-Riverside funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Zhang’s work was funded by the DOE Office of Science through SIMES.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 10:07 am on July 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Electron valley states, , Quantum Computing, , ,   

    From UCLA: “Technique for measuring and controlling electron state is a breakthrough in quantum computing” 

    UCLA bloc


    July 06, 2017
    Meghan Steele Horan

    UCLA professor HongWen Jiang (center) and graduate students Blake Freeman and Joshua Schoenfield affixing a quantum dot device to the gold plate of a cooling chamber. Nick Penthorn.

    During their research for a new paper on quantum computing, HongWen Jiang, a UCLA professor of physics, and Joshua Schoenfield, a graduate student in his lab, ran into a recurring problem: They were so excited about the progress they were making that when they logged in from home to their UCLA desktop — which allows only one user at a time — the two scientists repeatedly knocked each other off of the remote connection.

    The reason for their enthusiasm: Jiang and his team created a way to measure and control the energy differences of electron valley states in silicon quantum dots, which are a key component of quantum computing research. The technique could bring quantum computing one step closer to reality.

    “It’s so exciting,” said Jiang, a member of the California NanoSystems Institute. “We didn’t want to wait until the next day to find out the outcome.”

    Quantum computing could enable more complex information to be encoded on much smaller computer chips, and it holds promise for faster, more secure problem-solving and communications than today’s computers allow.

    In standard computers, the fundamental components are switches called bits, which use 0s and 1s to indicate that they are off or on. The building blocks of quantum computers, on the other hand, are quantum bits, or qubits.

    The UCLA researchers’ breakthrough was being able to measure and control a specific state of a silicon quantum dot, known as a valley state, an essential property of qubits. The research was published in Nature Communications.

    “An individual qubit can exist in a complex wave-like mixture of the state 0 and the state 1 at the same time,” said Schoenfield, the paper’s first author. “To solve problems, qubits must interfere with each other like ripples in a pond. So controlling every aspect of their wave-like nature is essential.”

    Silicon quantum dots are small, electrically confined regions of silicon, only tens of nanometers across, that can trap electrons. They’re being studied by Jiang’s lab — and by researchers around the world — for their possible use in quantum computing because they enable scientists to manipulate electrons’ spin and charge.

    Besides electrons’ spin and charge, another of their most important properties is their “valley state,” which specifies where an electron will settle in the non-flat energy landscape of silicon’s crystalline structure. The valley state represents a location in the electron’s momentum, as opposed to an actual physical location.

    Scientists have realized only recently that controlling valley states is critical for encoding and analyzing silicon-based qubits, because even the tiniest imperfections in a silicon crystal can alter valley energies in unpredictable ways.

    “Imagine standing on top of a mountain and looking down to your left and right, noticing that the valleys on either side appear to be the same but knowing that one valley was just 1 centimeter deeper than the other,” said Blake Freeman, a UCLA graduate student and co-author of the study. “In quantum physics, even that small of a difference is extremely important for our ability to control electrons’ spin and charge states.”

    At normal temperatures, electrons bounce around, making it difficult for them to rest in the lowest energy point in the valley. So to measure the tiny energy difference between two valley states, the UCLA researchers placed silicon quantum dots inside a cooling chamber at a temperature near absolute zero, which allowed the electrons to settle down. By shooting fast electrical pulses of voltage through them, the scientists were able to move single electrons in and out of the valleys. The tiny difference in energy between the valleys was determined by observing the speed of the electron’s rapid switching between valley states.

    After manipulating the electrons, the researchers ran a nanowire sensor very close to the electrons. Measuring the wire’s resistance allowed them to gauge the distance between an electron and the wire, which in turn enabled them to determine which valley the electron occupied.

    The technique also enabled the scientists, for the first time, to measure the extremely small energy difference between the two valleys — which had been impossible using any other existing method.

    In the future, the researchers hope to use more sophisticated voltage pulses and device designs to achieve full control over multiple interacting valley-based qubits.

    “The dream is to have an array of hundreds or thousands of qubits all working together to solve a difficult problem,” Schoenfield said. “This work is an important step toward realizing that dream.”

    The research was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office.

    See the full article here .

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