Geordie Rose, Founder and CTO of D-Wave Systems describes some of the challenges the team had to overcome in building the first commercial quantum computer.
Video Published on May 15, 2013
D-Wave Systems Quantum Computer
A quantum computer taps directly into the fundamental fabric of reality – the strange and counterintuitive world of quantum mechanics – to speed computation.
How D-Wave Systems Work
Quantum computing uses an entirely different approach than classical computing. A useful analogy is to think of a landscape with mountains and valleys.
Solving optimization problems can be thought of as trying to find the lowest point on this landscape. Every possible solution is mapped to coordinates on the landscape, and the altitude of the landscape is the “energy’” or “cost” of the solution at that point. The aim is to find the lowest point on the map and read the coordinates, as this gives the lowest energy, or optimal solution to the problem.
Classical computers running classical algorithms can only “walk over this landscape”. Quantum computers can tunnel through the landscape making it faster to find the lowest point. The D-Wave processor considers all the possibilities simultaneously to determine the lowest energy required to form those relationships. The computer returns many very good answers in a short amount of time – 10,000 answers in one second. This gives the user not only the optimal solution or a single answer, but also other alternatives to choose from.
D-Wave systems use “quantum annealing” to solve problems. Quantum annealing “tunes” qubits from their superposition state to a classical state to return the set of answers scored to show the best solution.
To program the system a user maps their problem into this search for the lowest point. A user interfaces with the quantum computer by connecting to it over a network, as you would with a traditional computer. The user’s problems are sent to a server interface, which turns the optimization program into machine code to be programmed onto the chip. The system then executes a “quantum machine instruction” and the results are returned to the user.
D-Wave systems are designed to be used in conjunction with classical computers, as a “quantum co-processor”.
Download this whitepaper to learn more about programming a D-Wave quantum computer:
D-Wave’s flagship product, the 1000-qubit D-Wave 2X quantum computer, is the most advanced quantum computer in the world. It is based on a novel type of superconducting processor that uses quantum mechanics to massively accelerate computation. It is best suited to tackling complex optimization problems that exist across many domains such as:
Pattern Recognition and Anomaly Detection
Software/Hardware Verification and Validation
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
D-Wave Systems, Inc. is a quantum computing company, based in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. D-Wave is the first company in the world to sell quantum computers.
The D-Wave One was built on early prototypes such as D-Wave’s Orion Quantum Computer. The prototype was a 16-qubit quantum annealing processor, demonstrated on February 13, 2007 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. D-Wave demonstrated what they claimed to be a 28-qubit quantum annealing processor on November 12, 2007. The chip was fabricated at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Microdevices Lab in Pasadena, California. These early prototypes were built upon the research papers by Umesh Vazirani, leading researcher on quantum complexity theory, who dismissed D-Wave’s claims of speedup as a misunderstanding of his work, and suggested that “even if it turns out to be a true quantum computer, and even if it could be scaled to thousands of qubits, [it] would likely not be more powerful than a cellphone”.
On May 11, 2011, D-Wave Systems announced D-Wave One, described as “the world’s first commercially available quantum computer”, operating on a 128-qubit chipset using quantum annealing (a general method for finding the global minimum of a function by a process using quantum fluctuations) to solve optimization problems. In May 2013, a collaboration between NASA, Google and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) launched a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab based on the D-Wave Two 512-qubit quantum computer that would be used for research into machine learning, among other fields of study.
On August 20, 2015, D-Wave Systems announced the general availability of the D-Wave 2X system, a 1000+ qubit quantum computer. This was followed by an announcement on September 28, 2015 that it had been installed at the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA Ames Research Center.
D-Wave was founded by Haig Farris (former chair of board), Geordie Rose (CTO and former CEO), Bob Wiens (former CFO), and Alexandre Zagoskin (former VP Research and Chief Scientist). Farris taught a business course at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where Rose obtained his Ph.D., and Zagoskin was a postdoctoral fellow. The company name refers to their first qubit designs, which used d-wave superconductors.
D-Wave operated as an offshoot from UBC, while maintaining ties with the Department of Physics and Astronomy. It funded academic research in quantum computing, thus building a collaborative network of research scientists. The company collaborated with several universities and institutions, including UBC, IPHT Jena, Université de Sherbrooke, University of Toronto, University of Twente, Chalmers University of Technology, University of Erlangen, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.These partnerships were listed on D-Wave’s website until 2005. In June 2014 D-Wave announced a new quantum applications ecosystem with computational finance firm 1QB Information Technologies (1QBit) and cancer research group DNA-SEQ to focus on solving real-world problems with quantum hardware.
D-Wave operated from various locations in Vancouver, British Columbia, and laboratory spaces at UBC before moving to its current location in the neighboring suburb of Burnaby. D-Wave also has offices in Palo Alto and Vienna, United States of America
Photograph of a chip constructed by D-Wave Systems Inc., designed to operate as a 128-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum optimization processor, mounted in a sample holder.
The first commercially produced D-Wave processor was a programmable, superconducting integrated circuit with up to 128 pair-wise coupled superconducting flux qubits. The 128-qubit processor was superseded by a 512-qubit processor in 2013. The processor is designed to implement a special-purpose quantum annealing as opposed to being operated as a universal gate-model quantum computer.
D-Wave maintains a list of peer-reviewed technical publications by their own scientists and others on their website.
On February 13, 2007, D-Wave demonstrated the Orion system, running three different applications at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. This marked the first public demonstration of, supposedly, a quantum computer and associated service.
The first application, an example of pattern matching, performed a search for a similar compound to a known drug within a database of molecules. The next application computed a seating arrangement for an event subject to compatibilities and incompatibilities between guests. The last involved solving a Sudoku puzzle.
The processors at the heart of D-Wave’s “Orion quantum computing system” are designed for use as hardware accelerator processors rather than general-purpose computer microprocessors. The system is designed to solve a particular NP-complete problem related to the two dimensional Ising model in a magnetic field. D-Wave terms the device a 16-qubit superconducting adiabatic quantum computer processor.
According to the company, a conventional front end running an application that requires the solution of an NP-complete problem, such as pattern matching, passes the problem to the Orion system.
According to Geordie Rose, founder and Chief Technology Officer of D-Wave, NP-complete problems “are probably not exactly solvable, no matter how big, fast or advanced computers get”; the adiabatic quantum computer used by the Orion system is intended to quickly compute an approximate solution.
2009 Google demonstration
On December 8, 2009, at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference, a Google research team led by Hartmut Neven used D-Wave’s processor to train a binary image classifier.
On May 11, 2011, D-Wave Systems announced the D-Wave One, an integrated quantum computer system running on a 128-qubit processor. The processor used in the D-Wave One code-named “Rainier”, performs a single mathematical operation, discrete optimization. Rainier uses quantum annealing to solve optimization problems. The D-Wave One is claimed to be the world’s first commercially available quantum computer system. The price will be approximately US$10,000,000.
A research team led by Matthias Troyer and Daniel Lidar found that, while there is evidence of quantum annealing in D-Wave One, they saw no speed increase compared to classical computers. They implemented an optimized classical algorithm to solve the same particular problem as the D-Wave One.
Lockheed Martin and D-Wave collaboration.
On May 25, 2011, Lockheed Martin signed a multi-year contract with D-Wave Systems to realize the benefits based upon a quantum annealing processor applied to some of Lockheed’s most challenging computation problems. The contract included purchase of the D-Wave One Quantum Computer System, maintenance, and associated professional services.
Optimization problem-solving in protein structure determination.
In August 2012, a team of Harvard University researchers presented results of the largest protein-folding problem solved to date using a quantum computer. The researchers solved instances of a lattice protein folding model, known as the Miyazawa-Jernigan model, on a D-Wave One quantum computer.
Main article: D-Wave Two
In early 2012, D-Wave Systems revealed a 512-qubit quantum computer, code-named Vesuvius, which was launched as a production processor in 2013.
In May 2013, Catherine McGeoch, a consultant for D-Wave, published the first comparison of the technology against regular top-end desktop computers running an optimization algorithm. Using a configuration with 439 qubits, the system performed 3,600 times as fast as CPLEX, the best algorithm on the conventional machine, solving problems with 100 or more variables in half a second compared with half an hour. The results are presented at the Computing Frontiers 2013 conference.
In March 2013 several groups of researchers at the Adiabatic Quantum Computing workshop at the Institute of Physics in London produced evidence, though only indirect, of quantum entanglement in the D-Wave chips.
In May 2013 it was announced that a collaboration between NASA, Google and the USRA launched a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at Ames Research Center in California, using a 512-qubit D-Wave Two that would be used for research into machine learning, among other fields of study.
On August 20, 2015, D-Wave released general availability of their D-Wave 2X computer, with 1,152 qubits in a Chimera graph architecture (although, due to magnetic offsets and manufacturing variability inherent in the superconductor circuit fabrication fewer than 1152 qubits are functional and available for use. The exact number of qubits yielded will vary with each specific processor manufactured.) This was accompanied by a report comparing speeds with high-end single threaded CPUs. Unlike previous reports, this one explicitly stated that question of quantum speedup was not something they were trying to address, and focused on constant-factor performance gains over classical hardware. For general-purpose problems, a speedup of 15x was reported, but it is worth noting that these classical algorithms benefit efficiently from parallelization—so that the computer would be performing on par with, perhaps, 30 high-end single-threaded cores.
The D-Wave 2X processor is based on a 2,048-qubit chip with half of the qubits disabled, but these may be re-activated later .
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