back to article Quantum computing: Confusion can mask a good story, but don't take anyone's word for it

It is said that the more you know about a subject, the less you trust newspapers about it. This is said because it is true. It's not true for The Reg, of course, for The Reg, like any self-respecting specialist rag, employs specialist writers. Rather, it's when the national press – the sort with lifestyle and sport and TV …

  1. ColinPa Silver badge

    What is QC?

    I read somewhere that with QC you can make a lot of money - or lose a lot of money - but you won't know until you try to spend it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is QC?

      You never see a poor lawyer... QCs make a lot of money, win or lose

      Goldman Sachs and Quantum Computing!... <shudder>

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What is QC?

        "QCs make a lot of money"

        A colleague bought a house previously occupied b a QC & said they kept getting debt chasing letters for him. However both he & I were in a position to observe QCs at work and we both knew who he was, I wouldn't have rated him as one of the more able ones.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: What is QC?

          Is he now in the witness protection program, hiding out on the opposition front bench?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quantum Computing

    Is precisely the hype that consumer media need in their lives. It lives on a promise that never stops giving, but has impact the rest of us know will never happen.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Quantum Computing

      Give it another twenty years and QC tech will be as mature as fusion power.

      1. sev.monster

        Re: Quantum Computing

        I can't wait to pop off some fusion cells at a Super Mutant using my fancy new quantum targeting neuralink wrist muscle interface.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quantum Computing

        And that new 1000 mile range solid state battery powered car.

    2. druck Silver badge

      Re: Quantum Computing

      The IET did a lecture on QC last week, lots of hand waving about how it will (in theory) revolutionise certain areas of computing, but light on any details. In the QA afterwards he admitted the only practical use you are likely to see from it is a better random number generator.

  3. DJV Silver badge

    "strongly frustration-free Hamiltonians can be designed to implement universal ground state quantum computation"

    Ah, well at least we now know that amanfrommars is holding down a job somewhere!

    1. Anonymal coward

      The Laundry might, or might not, strike back...

      This is Bob Howard's doing, isn't it....

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      A strongly frustration-free Hamiltonian was doing quite well in Spain yesterday.

      He might do quite well at Monte Carlo asa well in a couple of weeks' time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Strictly classical mechanics though

        I don't think Mercedes even employ any quantum mechanics do they? Even their Monte Carlo simulator is classical.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Strictly classical mechanics though

          I think Mercedes do employ QM, it also obeys GR but you wouldn't notice unless you are really heavy

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's just marketing

    Goldman Sachs wants investors to put money into their funds, by claiming they can be more successful than others because 'Quantum Supremacy". As if they cannot currently analyze the data for the tiny number of derivatives they offer on the tiny number of equities and asset classes they cover:

    https://www.gsmarkets.nl/en/products?page=1

    It's just marketing. They're really not a big player in the derivatives market, and their funds performance is a meh:

    https://www.gsam.com/content/gsam/us/en/advisors/fund-center/fund-finder.html

    Mostly single digit annualized growth. To quote Goldman Sachs own PR:

    https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/average-stock-market-return?op=1

    "The average stock market return for 10 years is 9.2%, according to Goldman Sachs data for the past 140 years."

    i.e. they manage to do WORSE THAN AVERAGE with their funds. They could throw darts in a dart board to pick stocks and do better than Goldman Sachs funds.

    Of course they will be analyzing *all* the data they have, they're just not very good at it, and of course you can run a Monte Carlo simulation on that data on a digital computer, so buying a dedicated computer won't fix their funds.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: It's just marketing

      Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg and others are for much of the time, just playing the Influencer game. Because they know that people who are under the impression they know what they are talking about the people pay attention to them, then, having effectively insider info based on what they know they are going to say, they can prepare and play the market accordingly.

      A game as old as the markets they trade in.

      1. sev.monster

        Re: It's just marketing

        Imagine being so full of your own pomp that you "leak" information that you youself came up with, already with the intention to release it. And it's not just the Golden Sacks, a number of media empires and other sensationalist outfits do it regularly. Frankly I don't see how such havens of scum and villainy can exist, nor how they can make money, as what I'd think to be "common sense" would immediately turn people away from such conduct...

  5. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Monte Carlo insight

    The description of Monte Carlo methods given in the article was revelatory.

    I have devised algorithms based on Monte Carlo and permutation methods to meet my specific needs in context of statistical analysis relating to biomedical data.The technique holds no mysteries but the idea that one is drawing samples from 'answer space' places it in different perspective. In other words, Monte Carlo methods are the poor man's quantum computing. One does not need to explore and catalogue the entire 'solution space' to get reliable answers.

    Linear computation though advances in conventional electronics is becoming increasingly powerful with respect to speed and capacity for handling data. One such machine can run a sequence of Monte Carlo simulations with rapidity. An array of physical parallel processors offers prospect of increasing the number of 'solution space' computations in a given time period in linear proportion to the number of processors added to the array. Distributing a Monte Carlo task across processors in a single location or a set of networked devices is becoming established procedure.

    Perhaps there are problems only QC can satisfactorily elucidate. Yet, meanwhile samples drawn from the huge 'solution spaces' open to QC enable useful work to be done. Practical QC rests as tantalising prospect on a horizon that may not be reachable.

  6. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Talking of Quantum ....... in the Live Operational Virtual Environment

    This earlier communication very possibly reveals a whole stash of likely future Goldman Sachs interests already ACTively novel business adventuring, and most welcoming of wealth to rest in Another Energising Space ....... in the Sunniest of Bright Places with Heavenly Castles and Diabolical Casinos Hosting and Toasting and Roasting Passionate Patrons and Exceptional Patriots alike .......... What's not to like for LOVE

    Great article, Rupert Goodwins. Hit all the right spots, spot on. Bravo! Encore ! More, More, More! :-)

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    QC Monte Carlo

    It's a startup. Another one. Another in a long line of startups that somebody promises will change the world. Magic Leap, anyone ?

    I'll believe it if they've actually accomplished something in 5 years' time.

  8. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    Happy

    An interesting question

    Did you know, for example, that strongly frustration-free Hamiltonians can be designed to implement universal ground state quantum computation?

    My wife and I speak of very little else over breakfast.

  9. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    Google Images knows nothing about cats and kumquats. It couldn't tell you which one to stroke for pleasure or which to eat when you're hungry

    Well, I've never heard of a Kumquat trying to scratch your hand off when you stroke it "wrongly"; so I guess it's Cat 'n' Chips for dinner

  10. Numen
    Headmaster

    Say you're trying to reduce data into a 1024 x 1280 picture. Using two variables, Monte Carlo will generate a pixel for each variable pair, chosen at random. Eventually you'd have enough of the image to tentatively identify the picture. QC would just produce the picture.

    Now assume you've got 50,000 variables. That takes a lot of computing to get any kind of (multi-dimensional) picture. Certainly would make QC popular, if it could ever manage that many variables.

    Maybe QC In Spaaaace to keep it cool!

    Again:

    Great article, Rupert Goodwins. Hit all the right spots, spot on. Bravo! Encore ! More, More, More! :-)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Hype(r)

    Quantum Computing

    Artificial Intelligence

    Neural Networks

    Blockchain

    Nanobots

    Hyper anything

    These are the buzzwords of the day. Wake me when something that works in the real world makes it into general use.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Hype(r)

      Wake me when something that works in the real world makes it into general use.

      ...... HildyJ

      FFS, wake up, HildyJ. General use of NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT works and is at ITsWork in the real world ...... whatever the hell that is.

      Is your daily life and future existence based around and upon what Mass Multi Media Mogul Operations [M4Operations] have previously shown and continue to show you via their broad range of instructive programs/sublime audiovisual vessels, some of which are easily surreally subversive and clandestinely coercive?

      Without such a ubiquitous communications channel, no one would know anything of anyone or anything else beyond their immediate tiny physicalised circle. However, because of M4Operations, some places in many spaces are the imaginative creation of the thoughts of a few sharing and building on ideas and flights of fancy for the present enjoyment and future employment of Mankind and Humanity.

      Where would all have been without it working so directly and diligently and stealthily?

  12. batfink Silver badge

    Agreed on the need for stated bounds and error bars

    QC is all very nice in theory, but starts to fall down when you look closely at the intrinsic error margins. Reducing these will be the key to success, but we never seem to hear about any of this in the breathless press releases.

    So, for the moment I'd like my bank to stick to the traditional approach please. I'd feel much better if my bank says "Mr Fink, you have £1,000* in your account" than if it says to me "Mr Fink, we think you've probably got £1,000 in your account. Or maybe it's £23.57. And there's an outside chance you actually owe us £5283.22".

    *If only...

  13. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Doesn't this describe everything?

    "doesn't actually do anything useful because systems big enough to do good things are crippled by random noise"

  14. TPHB

    Thank you!

    Thank you El Reg for applying a skeptical eye to PR b.s. I saw that press release and thought the same thing.

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