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May 17, 2013

Google and NASA Team Up To Explore the Potential of the D-Wave Quantum Computer

D-Wave Quantum Computer

Quantum AI
D-Wave, the Canadian-based company that is the first to offer a commercial quantum computer, has sold its second $10 million D-Wave Two system to a consortium funded by Google and NASA. The organizations are forming a laboratory to study artificial intelligence by means of computers that use the unusual properties of quantum physics.

Google and NASA are forming a laboratory to study artificial intelligence by means of computers that use the unusual properties of quantum physics. Their quantum computer, which performs complex calculations thousands of times faster than existing supercomputers, is expected to be in active use in the third quarter of this year.

The Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, as the entity is called, will focus on machine learning, which is the way computers take note of patterns of information to improve their outputs. Personalized Internet search and predictions of traffic congestion based on GPS data are examples of machine learning. The field is particularly important for things like facial or voice recognition, biological behavior, or the management of very large and complex systems.

“If we want to create effective environmental policies, we need better models of what’s happening to our climate,” Google Engineering Director Hartmut Neven said in a blog post announcing the partnership. “Classical computers aren’t well suited to these types of creative problems.”

"Can we move these ideas from theory to practice, building real solutions on quantum hardware? Answering this question is what the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab is for. We hope it helps researchers construct more efficient and more accurate models for everything from speech recognition, to web search, to protein folding," writes Neven. "We actually think quantum machine learning may provide the most creative problem-solving process under the known laws of physics. We’re excited to get started with NASA Ames, D-Wave, the USRA, and scientists from around the world."

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Google said it had already devised machine-learning algorithms that work inside the quantum computer, which is made by D-Wave Systems in Canada. One could quickly recognize information, saving power on mobile devices, while another was successful at sorting out bad or mislabeled data. The most effective methods for using quantum computation, Google said, involved combining the advanced machines with its clouds of traditional computers.

Google and NASA bought in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association, a nonprofit research corporation that works with NASA and others to advance space science and technology. Outside researchers will be invited to the lab as well.

This year D-Wave sold its first commercial quantum computer to Lockheed Martin. Lockheed officials said the computer would be used for the test and measurement of things like jet aircraft designs, or the reliability of satellite systems.

D-Wave's head, Geordie Rose wrote on his blog, "The quest to understand intelligence is one of the most interesting and important challenges that humanity has ever faced. It is a daunting problem. But so was building quantum computers, or even conventional computers for that matter. I believe we can apply the same principles we used to solve the quantum computing problem to the (much harder) problem of understanding how intelligence works. I don't believe it is outside our reach."


The machine Google and NASA will use makes use of the interactions of 512 quantum bits, or qubits, to determine optimization. They plan to upgrade the machine to 2,048 qubits when this becomes available, probably within the next year or two. That machine could be exponentially more powerful.

Google did not say how it might deploy a quantum computer into its existing global network of computer-intensive data centers, which are among the world’s largest. D-Wave, however, intends eventually for its quantum machine to hook into cloud computing systems, doing the exceptionally hard problems that can then be finished off by regular servers.

This month D-Wave also established an American company, considered necessary for certain types of sales of national security technology to the United States government.

SOURCE  Google Research

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