quantum computing 2018½

hi all, its been a very busy year for QM computing and it seems as if an inflection point has been reached. google/ IBM are announcing designs with more than 50 qubits.[b] intel is getting into the game. there is a lot of recent innovation going on with qubits in silicon, a trend spotted here previously.[a2] simulation is a very big topic, there are two types: simulating QC calculations on a conventional computer, and using QC computers to simulate physics problems such as atomic or molecular interactions.[a4] as far as “combine trendy buzzwords” its sometimes AI + ML + QC.[a3] this seems to me to be “jumping the gun” because our QCs are not even that powerful yet, but its reasonable to explore more abstractly.

another hot topic is “quantum supremacy” the idea that QC computing can be demonstrated in some sense to be “faster” than conventional computing on “some/ any problem”.[c] that problem is now being defined a bit circularly by google et al as “quantum calculations” but nevertheless results are that supremacy by that metric is real at around 50 qubits in the sense that these calculations are out-of-reach of conventional machines. (the scientists among us know in complexity theory nothing is described in terms of constant threshholds, in fact they are rejected as meaningless, but theres always been a lot of handwaving in this field!)

another huge event was the launching of stackexchange quantum computing site which seems to be healthy so far and its sponsorship by the new unusual startup strangeworks.[f] another very big deal/ gamechanger/ milestone is that the US congress is discussing some QC related funding/ development legislation/ bills.[g]

almost 2 decades ago some of the 1st popsci books came out on quantum computing. a few of us read those. its energizing/ enthralling/ inspiring/ exciting that a “relatively short time” later today its now a worldwide reality being pursued by top corporations/ even leading govt research programs. the wild/ starry-eyed early promise has not yet materialized; a general purpose machine stills seems off in the distance, and its not yet clear a QM computer will have the same revolutionary economic impact as the integrated circuit/ microprocessor, but the technology is advancing steadily now and looks like it will have a permanent niche somewhere. as the old expr goes its gone from glimmer in the eye to something real and thats really something to celebrate.

a. advances
a2. silicon
a3. ML + AI
a4. simulation
a5. papers
b. machines
c. supremacy
d. initiatives
e. shift/ pushback/ fallout
f. strangeworks
g. bills
h. leaders
i. overview



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