Google and Quantum Computing
December 14, 2015
I read “What is the Computational Value of Finite Range Tunneling?” The paper concerns a numerical recipe running on Google spiffy new D-Wave quantum computer. I also read “Google, D-Wave, and the Case of the Factor-10^8 Speedup for WHAT?” This paper points out that Google is making progress with the D-Wave quantum computer. How much progress is a matter for debate among the aficionados of quantum computing. If you are interested in the benchmark, the Google write up and the For What essay are both quite good.
When I worked through these documents, several thoughts crossed my mind, and I jotted down several. Here are two which will not require you, oh, gentle reader, to wade into the murky world of benchmarks and qubits:
1. IBM has a deal, which may be announced by now, to build high performance computer systems for the US government. My hunch is that IBM deserves a pat on its blue suited back for landing a contract to produce something tangible, unlike the Watson marketing hype-o-rama. To my knowledge, Google does not have this sort of deal. Google is writing about another company’s computer, not developing its own super systems. I think this is interesting. In the good old days prior to 2007, the Google was more of a doer. Now Google is a refiner.
2. Googlers have made the D-Wave perform. That’s good. The problem is that like the ORNL wonks using Crays to index health text, the computer is not one available to lots and lots of people. In fact, to verify the Googlers’ achievement, folks with Fancy Dan equipment have to replicate what the Googlers achieved. There will be lots of controversy. The Cray is a user friendly device compared to the D-Wave. Google seems to be working overtime to convince people that it is still a technology leader. I wrote about the gaggle of Googlers talking about Google’s artificial intelligence and machine learning achievements. My question is, “Is the Google feeling the heat from companies doing better in cutting edge technologies?”
Stephen E Arnold, December 14, 2015