back to article Boffins make noise about D-Wave chip: it seems quantum

Researchers from University College, London, and the University of Southern California, have weighed into the ongoing “is it quantum?” D-Wave debate with an interesting approach, testing the device under a variety of noise conditions. As their paper at Arxiv explains, the thermal environment of a D-Wave chip isn't directly …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have no idea what this means

    1. TKW

      Now I know what the rest of the articles on El Reg seem like to "normal" people.

    2. Vociferous

      The D-Wave is sold as a quantum computer, but it uses a completely different approach than everyone expected quantum computers to use, and because of this different approach it isn't as universal as a "true" quantum computer would be. For this reason there is differing opinions on whether the D-Wave is a "true" quantum computer, or just a computer sold with quantum hype. The cited paper shows that it handles noise like a "true" quantum computer would.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Correction: a universal quantum computer can solve pretty much any type of problems while some quantum computers are specialised on specific type of problems, that doesn't make them less quantum. That's the definition of universal and non-universal quantum computers.

        The debate surrounding Dwave is simply whether it's quantum or not.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      A little background on WTF a D-Wave chip is would have been nice, even a single sentence!

    4. Euripides Pants

      "I have no idea what this means"

      Marzipan toilet duck-rub. There, does that clear things up?

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Should have gone with the obvious test signal.

    A really hot cup of tea.

  3. Tromos


    I'm sure I had some D-wave chips in the spares cupboard - all I can find are some D-particle chips.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Duality

      Whoever downvoted you for that is a miserable so-and-so.

    2. All names Taken

      Re: Duality

      Take an upvote dude - and here's a pint to go with it!

  4. Vociferous

    I don't get it.

    I don't get the "we don't know if there's a quantum speedup" comment. The D-Wave is commercially available, the researchers clearly had access to a D-Wave machine, how could they conceivably NOT know if the device is significantly faster at solving problems suited for a quantum computer than a normal computer is?

    1. Werner McGoole

      Re: I don't get it.

      That makes me scratch my head a bit too. Either it's a lot faster than a classical computer or it doesn't really matter whether it's a quantum computer or not.

      I could say I'd sold my soul to the devil in return for the skills to make blisteringly fast computers, but if the computers I sold weren't actually fast, what would be the point?

      1. ramsey66

        Re: I don't get it.

        Just because it's not yet faster than conventional processors doesn't mean it's not going to be. There's still a lot of architectural and engineering challenges to be solved to expose the quantum advantage. The technology is in the very early stages. Think about this, when the Wright brothers built their historic airplaine, did it go as fast as the fighter jets of today? The Wright brothers provided the basic principle for long-distance flight and pointed everybody in the right direction.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I don't get it. - @ramsey66

          I think that is a very stretched analogy.

          Cayley and Lillienthal (separately) established the principle of flight. The Wrights worked out how to add an engine to a glider. But at no point did anybody, as seems to be the equivalent case here, watch a glider and try to decide whether it was "flying" or not. It was sufficiently obvious.

      2. ian 22

        Re: I don't get it.

        It is both a quantum computer and not a quantum computer. Does that quantify it for you?

    2. ramsey66

      Re: I don't get it.

      That is easier said than done. In order to determine a speed up they need to make a fair comparison and that means finding the appropriate problem to solve to show the difference, otherwise they will end up comparing apples and oranges. FInding that problem is not easy. The last comparison they did found no evidence of speed up on Dwave but even that was not conclusive because of the type of problem being solved. Plus the Dwave archiitecture is not yet mature.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't get it.

        If people don't know what this thing might run faster than an ordinary computer then why the crap would anyone buy one?

    3. Phil Endecott

      Re: I don't get it.

      On average, it clearly solves problems faster than a "brute force" search would.

      But there are better non-quantum methods than brute force, e.g. simulated annealing. It is not clear whether this machine is faster than non-quantum annealing. This is hard to measure because both classical annealing and the quantum mechanism have randomness.

      Another complicating factor is that the device is small, so everything is fast. The differences would be much more obvious in a machine that could handle larger problems.

    4. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I don't get it.

      As per D-Wave's Wikipedia article (usual Wiki caveats), the D-wave shows remarkabel speedup in some applications and none (or even much slower than desktop) in others. I guess it's related to what a poster above referred as difference between 'quantum computer' and 'universal quantum computer', ie it probably does act as a quantum computer on the problems that show high speedup, but the performance gain is still not niversally applicable.

      This is not surprising... even a quantum computer that can only solve a limited set of problems in a quantum way is a HUGE achievement.

      1. annodomini2

        Re: I don't get it.

        So they are still searching for the infinite improbability drive??

  5. DropBear

    Something tells me one needs somewhat more than a run-of-the-mill water-cooling kit to reach 20 millikelvins. Hmmmm, could this possibly chill beer quantum-quickly...?

  6. Colin 4



  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Dwave evidence

    This is another experiment that supports the Quantum behavior of the Dwave processor, however, it's not the final proof and it doesn't proove that it will be faster than classical computers.

    In this experiment, they compared Dwave to 3 classical model and 1 quantum, and found that it behaves more like the quantum model than the classical ones. One of the classical models is the one from IBM that was debated recently and discussed here in the Reg. This is Dwave rebuttal to that experiment. Here's the previous Reg article about the IBM experiment:

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So when can I have my Infinite Improbability Drive Hover Board?

    1. FartingHippo

      If you just want a hover board, then a boring old finite improbability drive would do. But why would you want a hover board when you can use it to break the ice at parties by making all the molecules in the hostess's undergarments leap simultaneously one foot to the left?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Well, hostesses have on average got wider since DNA was present in earthly manifestation. One foot to the left could cause serious internal injuries, so we wouldn't want that to happen.

        On the other hand, possession of a working hoverboard would probably mean that you could strew your path with discarded womens' undergarments, if that's what turns you on.

        Posting this tripe because I can't comment intelligently on the article, except to note that this really does seem to be a solution in search of a suitable problem. This makes DNA references rather appropriate.

  9. All names Taken

    Don't worry?

    it might unsettle the quanta?

  10. ramsey66

    It seems everybody here has a hard time understanding about the "noise" in the experiment. "noise" (heat, magnetism) in a quantum machine generally destroys quantum processing (not good), the more noise the less quantum is the machine. The less noise the more quantum it is, and this is how they observed the behavior of the Dwave machine. This means it is consistent in behaving quantumly.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Doesn't really help me, I'm afraid. The phrase "more quantumly" rather goes against the grain of quantumness in my book. Either something is quantised or it is continuous, surely?

      1. ramsey66

        I used the term "quantumly" because based on the experiment, the Dwave machine may not fully utilize the quantum effects of the qubits depending on noise. Therefore it can be more quantum or less quantum. For example, it will entangle more or less qubits depending on the noise. The Dwave machine can still give you answers even when it's not fully entangled, you will just get better or worse answers. There's almost no right or wrong answers here.

        You are probably thinking of the gate model quantum computing where if the entanglement is not perfect you will get a wrong answer. Dwave is based on Adiabatic Quantum Computing (AQC).

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Maybe it's only quantum

    if you don't observe it consciously

    I'll get me coat, the one with "What is life?" by Erwin Schrödinger in the pocket please

  12. All names Taken

    The trouble is ...

    ... that if we know where it may be going we cannot tell how fast it may be going and if we know how fast it may be going we can't tell where the hell it is going.

    Where is the Styx when it is needed?

  13. agricola

    I'm going with the odds...

    Wishful thinking.

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