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Study Doubts Quantum Computer Speed 105

Alain Williams writes "The BBC reports that a new academic study has raised doubts about the performance of a commercial quantum computer in certain circumstances. In some tests devised by a team of researchers, the commercial quantum computer has performed no faster than a standard desktop machine. 'The study has been submitted to a journal, but has not yet completed the peer review process to verify the findings. And D-Wave told BBC News the tests set by the scientists were not the kinds of problems where quantum computers offered any advantage over classical types.'"
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Study Doubts Quantum Computer Speed

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  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:05AM (#46012775) Homepage
    the D-Wave, once we wade through the marketing schtick and look at the technical specifications is a quantum annealer. its not designed to solve a calculation but rather to put us does this from the global minimum of a given objective function over a given set of candidate solutions (candidate states), by a process using quantum fluctuations.

    im not trolling over semantics though! annealers are extremely important to solving very difficult mathematic equations, and in many examples quantum annealing has been vastly superior to traditional computational methods. We should do machines like the D-Wave better justice though. Compare it instead to a traditional annealer.
  • by myowntrueself ( 607117 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:11AM (#46012837)

    Since I haven't read the actual paper, I'll give the researchers the benefit of the doubt. But the BBC reporting is terrible. What I got from the story is that a study has demonstrated that this Quantum computer isn't better at everything. Well, duh! Everyone who has even very casually followed Quantum computing knows that they are a new class of computing which can solve a limited set of problems very quickly. I'm really not much wiser after reading this story.

    What I got from it is that quantum computing researchers devised some tests for it and that it performed about as well as a desktop computer. I would *imagine* that quantum computing researchers at NASA and Google wouldn't just throw an unsuitable set of tests at it. I *imagine* that they know as much about the D-Wave computer as anyone outside D-Wave know about it and devised tests to, you know, *test* it.

    I could be wrong, maybe Google and NASA quantum computing researchers know shit about quantum computing and threw totally unsuitable tests at it.

  • Re:In other news... (Score:4, Informative)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:32AM (#46013005) Homepage Journal

    It also hasn't been established that the D-Wave is at all a quantum computer. They've refused to say how it works in that regard, and there has been no proof that any quantum entanglements even take place inside the box.

  • by Zyrill ( 700263 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:32AM (#46013721)
    The d-Wave machine supposedly operates under the principles of an adiabatic quantum computer. There is a considerable controversy in the field regarding what machines of that type can and cannot do. But even d-Wave itself does not claim that the machine can solve NP-complete problems in polynomial type, see also the Wikipedia article []. So this article is actually not news but olds. And it is obvious that the author has not a iota of understanding of the distinction of a fully fledged quantum computer and the d-Wave machine.
  • by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:38PM (#46014651)

    D-Wave has yet to demonstrate, in the open literature, that their quantum annealing is faster than classical computing annealing methods using considerably cheaper hardware. Early "look how fast we are" comparisons involved comparing against really terrible algorithms on classical hardware --- independent researchers were able to beat D-Wave when not using intentionally crippled approaches.

  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @01:13PM (#46015073) Journal

    I'll agree that

    the BBC reporting is terrible

    but it's not 'worthless' have to hack through it b/c they aim for the dumbest, most non-tech reader they can imagine...then dumb it down more...but the info is there

    you don't need to just "give the researchers the benefit of the doubt"...that's foolish

    "Quantum" computing is hype & the research saying it exists is flawed.

    This is big news for some people. For me, I split time between the biz world & academia so this matters to me for many reasons.

    One example: Research standards vs Hype. Standards for research are abyssmal, taken as a whole across the disciplines. So many times we see coorelation=causation falacies in news about 'new scientific research' like this BBC article.

    Quantum Computing is part of that hype & TFA explains some research that confirms that statement!

  • by quax ( 19371 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:36PM (#46016697)

    The Google Quantum AI lab puts this news into perspective [] and I put my positive spin on it here [].

    Having talked with one of the co-authors of the paper, he actually came away impressed at how far D-Wave has come in ten years. Although not yet far enough that I'd win my bet with him, that the D-Wave two could beat classical computing across the board.

    So in short, yes, the BBC's reporting on quantum computing is atrocious. Not the first time either. []

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