I’ve just installed an excellent “Purple Yin Guestbook” script (free software!) in my website. I hope you will sign it if you are interested in quantum computer programming, and you want others, especially others in your city, to be aware of your existence. You don’t have to be a programmer. You could be, for example, an angel investor or entrepreneur (Hi Bill Gates 🙂 ) interested in the topic Maybe this will help you find a collaborator with whom to write that quantum computer program you’ve been meaning to write. Maybe you’ll meet here some venture capitalists interested in funding your wacky visionary software. Maybe you’ll meet here someone with whom to go out for a coffee, maybe even your future wife. Who knows?
June 27, 2009
June 26, 2009
In a previous post, I expressed my agreement with Bruce Schneier’s opinion about quantum crypto. Today I came across a news item entitled:
“Global Quantum Cryptography Market to Reach $842 Million by 2015, According to a New Report by Global Industry Analysts”
What a dumb investment that would be! That money could be used to build a large scale quantum computer. $842M = (70M)(12) = 12 D-Waves (or maybe more, if they come cheaper by the dozen)
June 13, 2009
In a recent article, Patrick Cox at Penny Sleuth advises investors to invest now in companies that look like they might become the Intel of the quantum computer age. For every Intel, there is usually a Microsoft. So I advise investors to also invest in companies that might become the Microsoft of the quantum computer age. (Needless to say, I wouldn’t mind working as a programmer at this future Microsoft 🙂 ) If I were an investor interested in investing in quantum computing, I wouldn’t put all my eggs in the hardware basket, I would also put some in the software basket. This, not only because diversification usually lowers risk, but also because investing in QC software companies is far less risky than investing in QC hardware companies. Indeed, a QC software company has the following advantages over a QC hardware one:
- No need for bricks and mortar. You could have a QC software company in which all the employees worked at their homes, at different geographical locations. They could easily collaborate via the internet. On the other hand, a QC hardware company requires a laboratory/workshop at which most of its employees congregate daily.
- Cheaper equipment. The tools required by a QC software company are mostly just computers and internet connections. These are relatively cheap. The tools required by a QC hardware company are much more expensive. Low temperature and high vacuum equipment, clean rooms, etc., all this costs millions of dollars. Some of the tasks that use expensive, highly specialized equipment can be contracted out, but that too is expensive.
- No need to bet on a specific hardware model. There are several hardware models vying to become the first large scale quantum computer. (ion-trap, semiconductor, superconductor, photons, quantum dots. etc.) It’s hard to predict which hardware model will win out. Because of the high costs involved in the equipment and human expertise, each QC hardware company is forced to bet on just one hardware model. The beauty of QC software is that it can be written so that it is pretty much hardware-model independent. Alternatively, one can write translators that translate software that only works on a specific hardware platform, to software that works on another.
See also this blog post on a Pixar analogy.
June 11, 2009
I recommend the following recent article on D-Wave Inc.
I found the article to be well-written, balanced, candid and full of interesting details about D-wave. It quotes several science and business experts who run the gamut from very optimistic to very pessimistic about the prospects of D-Wave. Personally, I believe that D-wave, like any other company, has some good and bad features. Let me discuss in this blog post what I see as its good features:
- Focal Point for QC Investors. One thing that few can dispute is that D-wave has done an impressive job at courting investors for money, about $70 million in the last 15 years (about $20 million from the Canadian government, and about $50 million from private investors). D-wave has proven that there are people out there who believe in quantum computing and are willing to invest in it. One just has to make an effort to find them.
- First Step towards a QC Industry . What has D-wave gotten in return for $70 million in 15 years? Their current chip has 128 qubits, and they are promising a 1000 qubit chip by the end of 2009. By comparison, the US government has spent about 1 billion dollars on quantum computing during the same period, and their best quantum computers (ion trap QCs) have about 10 qubits, and cannot be scaled to much higher qubit numbers, except through some Rube Goldberg schemes. Of course, the D-wave computer is adiabatic and the ion trap ones aren’t, so comparing them in terms of number of qubits is not very fair. Still, the difference between $70 million and $1 billion is astonishing. This supports the contention that quantum computing will advance much faster if it is both an industrial and an academic enterprise. The example of Craig Venter and Celera is quite pertinent here. Without industry (Celera), scientists probably would have taken at least ten more years to map the human genome. Unfortunately, quantum computing in the US is so far mostly an academic, government funded endeavour — a very narrow combination. The US has no quantum computing industry similar to Canada’s D-wave.
- Job Generator. Another commendable fact about D-Wave is that it has generated some rewarding HiTech jobs. It “has 13 full-time employees, as well as 60 research collaborators in the U.S. and Europe.”
- Beautiful Experiment. Even if D-wave runs out of money before it can generate a profit, it will undoubtedly have carried out some very interesting physics experiments. For example, it will go a long way towards answering the question of whether adiabatic quantum computers are useful in practice.
- Seems Well Positioned for the Future. D-wave has assembled a team of first rate experts in superconductor physics. It has gone where no man has gone before in terms of producing chips with a large number of coupled SQUIDS. It has accumulated a large number of patents and much experience pertaining to such models. If adiabatic QCs prove to be profitable, then it will become the first player in a new market. If not, it might still be able to use the expertise it has accumulated to produce other superconductor devices, maybe even a discrete-steps (sequence of elementary operations) QC with error correction (See recent DiVincenzo paper).