Google Exploring Quantum Computing
December 14th, 2009 : Rich Miller
Google is working on developing a quantum computer, a technology that could dramatically enhance the power of its search capabilities. The company revealed last week that it has spent three years developing a quantum algorithm, and is collaborating with Canadian company D-Wave, which is working to build quantum computing processors.
What is quantum computing? Here’s a description from Popular Science: “The promise of quantum computing rests with the bizarre physics that occurs at the subatomic level. Different research teams have worked on creating quantum processors that store information as qubits (quantum bits), which can represent both the 1 and 0 of binary computer language at the same time. That dual possibility state allows for much more efficient processing and information storage.”
Google’s announcement that it has figured out how to use quantum algorithms to sort images is covered by New Scientist and Popular Science. Will this technology eventually help Google in its bid to organize the world’s information? How might a successful implementation of quantum computing affect the company’s use of data centers?
“There are still many open questions but in our experiments we observed that this detector performs better than those we had trained using classical solvers running on the computers we have in our data centers today,” writes Google’s Hartmut Neven.
But it’s worth noting that there has been skepticism from somein the technical community about D-Wave’s technology and whether it constitutes quantum computing. Even Google’s Neven observes that “it is not easy to demonstrate that a multi-qubit system such as the D-Wave chip indeed exhibits the desired quantum behavior and experimental physicists from various institutions are still in the process of characterizing the chip.”
D-Wave’s investors including Goldman Sachs and Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and its president and CEO is Vern Brownell, who previously headed Egenera. Read more about its technology on the D-Wave blog.