$10 Million will buy a Quantum Computer?

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Fri Jun 21 01:32:49 MDT 2013


On Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 12:33 AM, S. Dale Morrey <sdalemorrey at gmail.com> wrote:

> I guess the only 2 questions I have are.
> What would one of these be good at doing in layman's terms, i.e. breaking
> crypto, solving pathway problems etc?
> And of course just to make this on topic for the group...
> Does it run Linux?

Well, the computer is designed to do optimization problems.  Set up a
system of equations and find the optimal configuration of
coefficients.  They are common in machine learning and other kinds of
statistical analysis.  It's not really a general-purpose machine, and
apparently it requires a classical computer (possibly running Linux,
but who knows?) to set up and manage the quantum engine and get the
result back out.  This is not the kind of quantum computer that could
run Shor's algorithm, though, so probably most of the stuff you heard
years ago about quantum computing doesn't apply.  Some major physics
breakthroughs are still required before we could build something like
that.

Anyway, there's no *practical* reason for these machines to exist, as
you could solve any problem they can *much* faster with techniques
like simulated annealing on the massively powerful classical computer
you could buy for the same money. They're kind of a curiosity that's
playing off the hype generated over the theoretical quantum circuit
machines that can (theoretically) do much more powerful and general
operations.

Mostly quantum computing is a branch of purely theoretical computer
science, where it remains interesting as a source of nooks and
crannies in the space of computational complexity analysis and
algorithm design that researchers can study and publish in.

       --Levi


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