Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Quantum Computing

Speculation about quantum computing has been assumed to be something decades away. Some of us wondered if it is even possible. Quantum computers hold the promise of solving complex computations simultaneously instead of the traditional one step at a time. It comes as a big surprise when D-Wave Systems Inc a company near Vancouver announced that they will be demonstrating their new Quantum Computer. ABC explains:

But it's been a holy grail in the arcane world of supercomputers — and a Canadian firm claims it will be unveiling one on Tuesday. Nevermind that most engineers thought quantum computers were decades away.

D-Wave Systems, Inc., based near Vancouver, is the company that's been working on the project. Its machine is described as a computer that can perform 64,000 calculations at once.

Following the odd laws of quantum mechanics, the digital "bits" that race through its circuits will be able to stand for 0 or 1 at the same time, allowing the machine, eventually, to do work that is orders of magnitude more complex than what today's computers can do.

"There are certain classes of problems that can't be solved with digital computers," said Herb Martin, the firm's CEO, over a decidedly-noisy digital cell phone. "Digital computers are good at running programs; quantum computers are good at handling massive sets of variables."

While this looks an incredible breakthrough it doesn't seem to be getting a lot of press. How significant and important this is will unfold into the future.
Update 2/14/2006: Apparently all went well, but there are skeptics.