Quantum Bayesian Networks

November 6, 2009

Quantum Computing Primer for Spies

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 7:37 pm


An alien space ship, no. An American sacred Kaaba, no. National Security Agency Headquaters at Fort Meade, Maryland, yes

You are an NSA analyst working at NSA headquarters, a sinister looking, shinny black box mega-building at Fort Meade, Maryland. Then, one day, you wonder…

“What should a master spy like me know about quantum computing?”

So you boot up your top secret ECHELON terminal, giving you instant access to Google++: all Google info (including 10 million digitized books), all public and confidential records of all US federal and state agencies including the FBI and CIA, and some foreign ones (Interpol, MI5) too, plus a large fraction of all the electronic communications (emails, internet searches, websites, cell and land line telephone calls, faxes, credit card transactions, radio and TV transmissions, cell phone GPS chip transmissions) of the entire planet for the last 5 years. Unfortunately, with so much data at hand, your ECHELON search takes 10 minutes and yields 5 million hits. You curse at the ECHELON software…

“The ECHELON search engine sucks. How can I possibly sift through 5 million records?”

But it’s your lucky day, and serendipity or a software glitch or a software Trojan has placed this blogpost at the top of the list. So here is what you need to know.

  • Quantum computers can decode RSA coded messages quickly using something called Shor’s algorithm. There are known classical encryption systems that cannot be broken by a classical or quantum computer, so the NSA should shepherd the US commercial sector into switching to one of those encryption systems long before quantum computers become available. There is talk of a quantum internet, but that’s just snake oil.
  • One popular technique used in data mining is called MCMC (Markov Chain Monte Carlo). MCMC can be done on both classical and quantum computers, but quantum computers are typically quadratically faster at MCMC than classical ones. (Some Nerd speak: The quantum computerized version of MCMC is an application of Grover’s algorithm, quantum phase estimation, and the Szegedy quantum walk operators). The bottom line: NSA can data-mine ECHELON much faster with quantum computers than with classical ones.

Spurred by this blog post, an important thought now crosses your mind:

“I’m hungry. It’s 4 o’clock. Time to go home.”

Maybe you’ll try tomorrow to convince your boss to fund this quantum data-mining stuff. Oh, you forgot where you parked today, and the parking lot outside has a daunting 18,000 parking spaces. No problem. Just ask ECHELON. She regularly monitors the transmissions from the GPS chip in your car. A second later, she responds:

“Agent 156 car at parking space 51ew of NSA Meade facility”

Secret agent man, secret agent man
They’ve given you a number and taken away your name


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