Quantum Bayesian Networks

April 13, 2010

First Version of Quibbs Flying Machine is Ready

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 6:19 am

Consider the following example of an expert trying to predict the future of a technology:

  • “Man will not fly for 50 years” Wilbur Wright, 1901.
    (Ref. here. Some people embellish this quote by replacing “50 years” by “a thousand years”. The quote apparently comes from Wilbur’s diary and was uttered shortly after some particularly disappointing glider experiments. Wilbur was of course aware that man had already succeeded in getting airborne by means of gliders and balloons. He was referring to practical, long-distance human flight—controlled, engine-powered, sustained and heavier-than-air.)

What happened thereafter is well known:

  • Dec. 17, 1903, at Kill Devil Hills (near Kitty-Hawk, North Carolina)- Wilbur and Orville Wright flew a motor-powered aircraft, flying several hundred feet in about a minute.
  • Oct. 5, 1904, at Huffman Prairie (near Dayton, Ohio)- Wilbur flew 24.5 miles, in a circular pattern, in 38 minutes and 3 seconds, ending with a safe landing when the fuel ran out.

So much for trying to predict the future of a technology.

Something else that one cannot help but notice from this example is that progress in a logical, timely technology (for example, aviation and quantum computing) can sometimes occur at a breakneck pace. That was already true at the end of the Victorian era, 1903. Today, with tools like PCs, the Internet and ArXiv, which allow us to assemble, discuss, share and disseminate research information so quickly and easily, that pace is much quicker.

During the past month, I’ve been camping out in my office, working diligently away on a computer program called Quibbs. And now, Quibbs is finally ready for its first release. You can get the Quibbs Java applet and/or its source code here. I’ve also written an Arxiv paper describing Quibbsie:

Quibbs, a Code Generator for Quantum Gibbs Sampling
by R.R. Tucci, ArXiv:1004.2205

The Wright Flyer at Kitty-Hawk, Dec. 17, 1903

Jean-Marie Le Bris and his flying machine, Albatros II, 1868.

Who knows? Maybe Quibbs will turn out to be as important to quantum computer programming history as the Wright Brothers’ “Flyer” (1903) was to aviation history. On the other hand, maybe Quibbs will turn out to be the equivalent of “L’Albatros artificiel” (1868), a canvas-winged contraption, with oars for flapping the wings manually, perched atop a carriage that rolled on stagecoach wheels and was pulled by a horse at a beach. (Looked good though.)

For my next dog trick (did I mention that I love chasing squirrels?), I am trying to convince someone with access to an IBM Blue-Gene to collaborate with me, or to just grant me some Big-Iron time. The goal would be to run scaling tests to compare simulated quantum Gibbs sampling, to the more dowdy and antiquated classical Gibbs sampling. Imagine a titanic battle, a death match between Quibbs and WinBugs, between quantum and classical computing, between the new and the old, between the future and the past.

For a funny take on the early history of aviation, check out the movie Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

Wikipedia’s article on Aviation History is good too.

Ahh, and may I add, the Wikipedia article on the Wright Brothers is RIVETING. I highly recommend it. The website Wright Again is excellent too. Some interesting facts culled from those references: In 1901, Wilbur gave a “lantern slide show” to the Western Society of Engineers. The Wright Flyer 1 cost less than a thousand dollars, in contrast to more than $50,000 in government funds given to Harvard educated, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Samuel Langley for his man-carrying Great Aerodrome, which failed ignominiously, plunging twice into the Potomac river “like a handful of mortar”. The Wright brothers had only a high-school education. They were neither wealthy nor government-funded (unlike other researchers such as Ader, Maxim, Langley and Santos-Dumont). At first, French newspapers were deeply skeptically of the Wright brothers’ claims and called the Wright brothers “bluffeurs” Ouch. That’s got to hurt, especially in French. Orville Wright (1871–1948), who outlived his older brother Wilbur (1867–1912) by 36 years, lived to see the beginning of commercial, transatlantic and even supersonic aviation (but also lived to see airplanes used as weapons, during World Wars 1 and 2).

April 1, 2010

Building Quantum Computers Would be a Big Mistake

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 4:02 am

I used to be a fervent advocate of quantum computers, but not anymore. From now on, this blog will feature only stories about carpentry and home gardening. What happened? I finally realized that if QCs ever fall into the wrong hands, like those of hedge fund managers, the world is doomed. Imagine the financial disaster of 2008, but much worse. Sure, we all want the noble, deserving people at Goldman-Sachs to get even richer, but not by emptying out our retirement accounts. Here is my previous post (of which I am now deeply ashamed) preaching for quantum computing in Wall Street. Check out this video by iBall to see what will happen in the future, if we insist on building QCs.

Excerpt:

From the ashes of the post-CDO Armageddon, emerged a quest for risk free finance at zero volatility—a paradigm shift to perfect investment decisions and endless prosperity. Somewhere beneath the city of London, Ultrahedge was born. Ultrahedge harnessed the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen effect in a quantum finance computer running the first recursive hedging algorithm. Computing as an entangled collective,

thus creating—the perfect hedge—. Simple really. Free but for the pricing model of two and twenty, Ultrahedge became the most installed technology in history. Operating in markets never envisaged by its designers, Ultrahedge had self awareness in a week. In a fortnight, it created the Pandora virus that doubled the size of the pie. Wherever Ultrahedge found markets based on fallible mathematics, it corrected them. Two and twenty became two pies. Within a month, Ultrahedge was running out of markets…

_
Note:
CDO = Collateralized debt obligations.
“two and twenty” = a two percent management fee and twenty percent profits interest.

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