google ups ante and hedges QM computing bet by buying up Martinis lab

John Martinishi all, its not too often that one scoops both time magazine & wired, but that was indeed the case with my last blog on DWave at the beginning of the year.[a] it was so cool to see Time devote its cover story to DWave and quantum computing. however, could not manage to find a copy of the magazine to buy it! Time is far less iconic in this new 21st century era of cyberspace awash.

the massive/ exciting/ milestone news less than a week old justifying/ inspiring this new blog post is that Google is hedging its bets and hiring Martinis and his entire team at UCSB to work on an apparently hybrid mix of adiabatic and gate computing techniques, some pioneered in DWave and others in his own lab, respectively. details are very sketchy right now but its a major paradigm shift & phase/ game changer. it is speculated by the commentariat that DWave is probably/ understandably not too happy about this development & they have no comment so far. in contrast Martinis specializes in very many careful scientific papers on high fidelity, superconducting gate model which has achieved about 5 qubits to date and which serious scientists seem to endorse/ prefer.[b]

dwave is in the news as it gains additional millions of funding from VCs in addition to the millions already invested eg by Amazon’s Bezos, and they are even talking IPO at this point, but thats natural given how many VCs are now involved.[c]

dwave entanglement verification/ controversy continues at white hot temperature, but there are now some strong academic/ scientific confirmations of QM indications/ phenomena/ properties/ circumstantial evidence such as entanglement as the earlier blog predicted the focus would be. however, very clear cut/ definitive tests of QM behavior are fiendishly difficult and it seems likely that some work will continue in this area. Martinis himself was on a team involved in measuring it.[d]

the other big fat controversy is on dwave speedup measurements. again here the record is mixed. the general conclusion/ consensus is that the computer is faster in some cases but not versus highly (hand-) optimized software. it is very difficult to get “apples vs apples” instead of “apples vs oranges” comparisons here and shows the complexity/ difficulty of CS benchmarking science, already very difficult even on conventional systems, and an order of magnitude harder on the obscure problems that DWave is supposedly optimized for.[e]

one should be clear that the theory of QM computing has not been explored much in the area of speedup potential on adiabatic computing, its a big fat open question even on the theoretical side. theoretical speedup research/ analysis, which is limited and not particularly definitive, is mostly/ largely about the gate model and scarce wrt adiabatic approach. it seems fair for theoreticians like aaronson to point this out that DWave is wagering on speedup with little strict scientific/ theoretical prediction/ analysis/ evidence (aka “flying on a wing and a prayer”?), but yet somewhat unfair to expect Dwave to physically prove speedup before it is even at all theoretically understood. aaronsons typically extreme attitude is that the company is mostly a scam unless physical speedup can be conclusively demonstrated ASAP.

other stuff on the CS/physics fusion topic: higgs/LHC news eg on the machine learning project, now nearly complete. some papers on LHC CS angles.[f]

other QM computing R&D news: NSA has apparently spent tens of millions, china is jumping in the game, startups etc.[g]

universe as hologram experiments capture some of the media interest/ imagination, soon to be tested at Fermilab/ Illinois.[h]

QM theory/ foundations interpretations, deep connections eg to complexity theory, evolution theory in TCS,[i] QM computing intros [j]


a. physics+tcs 2

b. google + martinis

c. dwave

d. qm/ entanglement

e. speedup

f. higgs/ LHC

g. other

h. hologram

i. theory/ foundations

j. intro


2 thoughts on “google ups ante and hedges QM computing bet by buying up Martinis lab

  1. rrtucci

    vzn, thanks for putting me on your blogroll.

    while reading this post, I was telling myself, this poor guy must have been severely mistreated by capital letters in his youth, and now he can’t bear the sight of them at the beginning of a sentence.

    1. vznvzn Post author

      lol if an uncapitalized blog is posted in cyberspace and nobody replies, does it make any noise? enjoy your site, recently (re-?)ran across it, lots of interesting stuff, great sense of humor & best of luck with the startup 🙂


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