back to article Researchers claim quantum device performs 9,000-year calculation in microseconds

Researchers in Canada have conducted a quantum computing experiment that they claim completes a calculation in just a fraction of a second that would take a conventional computer 9,000 years. Jonathan Lavoie, an experimental physicist at quantum computing company Xanadu, and colleagues reported the results from a device …

  1. toffer99

    Pedants' corner: It's supremacy.

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    Is there something better than quantum or do we nail quantum computing and that will be it?

    That being said, it is very easy to tell that we are living in a simulation. Basically the simulation CPU cannot simulate faster than what we call speed of light.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better


      Entanglement is already proven to be *at least* 4 times faster than light. It must even be propagating backwards in time (so at least a Ryzen 99 sent from the future):

      i.e. photon p1 and p2 interacts at t1, later at t2 p2 is measured and is known, so p1's state at t1 is now partially known, so p1 has changed, but p1 interacted with other photons in the past, e.g. p0 at t0, so p0's state is partially known at t0, so now all the photons it interacted with and all the matter, across the universe, very subtlely becomes more defined and known......, as the whole past and future universe changes to meet the new measurement.

      So matter, light, everything, all changed by an experimental measurement in the future.

      And then there's the "measurement" problem, a measurement is just an interaction, there is no difference between the two.

      And the conflicting experiment problem.... the distribution assumes nobody but the particular experimentor doing the particular experiment, measures anything in the universe, either in the past or the future. Because if they were, then the photons would have partially known properties and wouldn't conform to the untouched distribution. The more experiments (past or future) the more defined.

      So.... by spooky magic effect across space and time, I can tell from the future that their quantum computers never work. Because if they did, then the distribution would be narrowly defined by all the future infinite constrained quantum calculations being done in the future defining the known properties of the past!

      The big big big problem. Photon uncertainty is because you are not measuring properties of the photon at all, you're measuring net properties between a detector and photon. Their probablity distribution calculation is useless, because its only true for their detector, here on this planet, here in this space at this motion at this time.

      But then again, that last point, kindof removes all the magic. All that time-travel, magical quantum crap is no longer needed, if the unknowns are not from the photon, but rather the photons state with respect to any given detector, then the quantum computer is useless because it's not going through all possible states simultaneously, you just haven't measure the difference between it and the detector yet, so you (the experimenter) don't yet know the net difference, not that its unknowable.

      Also for this particular experiment: Whether a digital computer can model a quantum system faster than simply building and measuring the quantum system is kind of irrelevent too, my puppy models being a puppy faster than a digital computer can model a puppy, but I don't call it puppy-supremacy, I call it puddles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Better

        While we're here, can I point out simply why the 3 spacial dimensions cannot be independent.

        Take a property, like spin, Suppose its an apparent net motion between two oscillations. One of the photon (p1) and one of the detector (d1). Now lets suppose that is in the xy plane, so it appears to be a sort of circular polarization component in the xy plane of that photon when you measure it.

        A different detector, d2, has a different oscillation pattern, with respect to d2, p1 is not spinning in the xy plane, it might be spinning in a different plane, it might not even be spinning at all. i.e. the uncertainty of the spin is because the property is a net composite of detector and detected.

        Hence the 3 spacial axis are partially a function of the observer, they are not universal and certainly not independent.

        The above, is so fooking obvious when I put it like that, so don't go modelling space in 3 independent dimensions as if those dimensions extend across the universe.

        And don't go thinking that spiral polarization is entirely a function of the photon, when it clearly isn't.

        And also, motion is a waddle in 3 axis over an oscillating field. If you want to capture a photon, cancel out one of of those components and it will become a stationary spin. Since this happens in matter, (photons get captured, capturing electrons gain motions as a result), you can tell that the effect is a net interaction between matter and the photon. You see how the properties of the photo could *not* be independent of the detector. If you're able to detect it, and able to capture the photon, then there is a net interaction.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Better

          Or, in layman's terms - everything you thought you know is wrong, and reality is weirder than the most batshit crazy sci-fi you've ever watched.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Better

            reality is weirder than the most batshit crazy sci-fi you've ever watched

            I'm watching the whole 70th jubilee pageantry right now.


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Better

              > > reality is weirder than the most batshit crazy sci-fi you've ever watched

              > I'm watching the whole 70th jubilee pageantry right now.

              Which I guess just proves his point.

        2. Paul_Canada

          Re: Better

          P.S. Spin is a scalar measure, it has no vector. It's often visualized like this:

      2. TimMaher Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: puddles

        Ahh... how sweet!

      3. Paul_Canada

        Re: Better

        So! Entanglement is not faster than light in that there is no "travelling" happening between the two particles. Two entangled particles have a shared quantum state, which is broken as soon as one particle interacts with any other particle or field. Until then both particles exist in both/all states simultaneously. Once interacted, the spin of one particle immediately implies the opposite spin in the other - the quantum state is determined instantaneously. The act of measuring the spin also counts as an interaction and would thus break the entanglement. It cannot thus be used for any meaningful superluminal communication. There is no time travel, it's just how quantum physics works, but casualty is always preserved.

        As for spin, the atomic particles do not actually spin. At the subatomic level, charged particles (electrons and protons) act like tiny little magnets. Since magnetism appears when a charged particle is moving, it baffled scientists that a charged particle not moving much could have such a strong magnetic field. Back in the old days, they assumed that the particles were solid and spinning, and it was this spin creating the magnetic field. However with the advent of quantum physics, it became clear that the particles were not actually spinning as they're not solid but instead point-like particles (the quarks are, protons are not as they're made up by quarks). The name spin stuck, but really in simple terms, it would be called "intrinsic magnetism". This "spin" exists only in certain states, so unlike a magnet it's, as you'd expect in Quantum physics, "quantized".

        1. swm Silver badge

          Re: Better

          Neutrinos and photons are neutral point particles and both have spin.

          1. Paul_Canada

            Re: Better

            This is a good observation!

            Photons: I'm not 100% sure, but my understanding is that the spin of a photon particle correlates to the polarization of the wave. Light waves are electromagnetic fields. However the "spin" in charged particles is ±½ and in photons it's ±1. If I understood, correctly: ½ means it interacts via charge, 1 means it does not. How spin works scientifically and mathematically, is beyond me.

            Neutrinos: Theoretically neutrinos do have a magnetic moment, the strength which is really really tiny. So tiny it has never been experimentally verified.

        2. Jaybus

          Re: Better

          John Bell showed in the 1960's that entanglement allows one particle to influence another instantaneously, but not in such a way that classical information travels faster than light.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    light pulses which exhibit quantum uncertainty

    Let's hear it for notched quanta!

    1. BobTheIntern

      Re: light pulses which exhibit quantum uncertainty

      I read this years ago and have been searching for a copy of it for some time now. Brilliant!

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    As far as I can make out from the brief summary they performed a particular quantum experiment chosen to be very difficult to emulate numerically and predicted it would take a supercomputer 9,000 years to emulate and present the result as a triumph of quantum computing. Could they use this technique to show that a quantum computer would be better at weather forecasting than a conventional computer or than the atmosphere itself.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Can a quantum computer predict anything other than its own behaviour? Isn't this what we used to call analogue computing? (Yes, the results are digital, but a quantised phenomenon could hardly be anything else.)

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        "Computers are like bikinis. They save people a lot of guesswork" - Sam Ewing

    2. Def Silver badge

      I reckon I could write a program on a conventional computer to give a weather forecast 9000 years into the future. And I challenge anyone to prove it inaccurate.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        It'll be raining...

        1. pluraquanta

          Ha! You couldn't be further off. It won't rain till at least 9000 years on Tuesday.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            So, you don't really need that coat, eh?

      2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

        You are Greta Thunberg (or any other climateologist and I claim my £5,000 (£5 adjusted for inflation this year)

    3. Justthefacts Silver badge

      Cynical but accurate

      However, there is a significant point. The computational complexity folks have a strong record of being able to recast one type of problem as another. SAT problems etc. That’s where the whole NP Complete thing comes from: any problem in that complexity class can be numerically recast as anything else in that class, with only polynomial-time additional complexity.

      As I understand, nobody has *yet* been able to connect Gaussian boson sampling to more interesting algorithms. That’s a separate problem. Probably that will be solved by high-power mathematicians in years rather than decades. Once that has been done, there will be a polynomial-time “trick” to convert your more interesting but exponentially hard problem to one stated as GBS, solve that on this quantum computer, and then convert the result back.

      It’s a bit like Fourier transforms O(N^2) seem only useful for some quite particular physics problems, but then once FFTs O(NlogN) were invented, *so many* unrelated bits of computation started using them.

      So that’s really the point of all this quantum stuff.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Cynical but accurate

        Like my dropped coffee cup experiment which calculates the exact distribution of coffee cup fragments, a task a conventional computer couldn't do in 1000s if years

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Cynical but accurate

          Except that you get a different answer each time. You'd be quicker just calling rand() directly.

  5. Inkey

    @ 60 fps

    so still can't run crysis then?...

  6. Sixtiesplastictrektableware Bronze badge

    Point Avoider

    The next person to ask me where I'm from will be answered with... Xcanadu.

    Don't know how I didn't see it before.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How reliable is this?

    It's all jolly well to calculate using light, but if it falls on its face when the janitor shines a torch on it I would not want it near any controlling function just yet..

  8. druck Silver badge

    This isn't a quantum computer

    It is an experiment which relies on a quantum effect which is difficult to simulate in a conventional computer.

    What is it not is any sort of quantum computer which can solve problems that a conventional computer ca, in any time frame.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: This isn't a quantum computer

      It being or not being a quantum computer is in context perfectly applicable.


    2. _olli

      Re: This isn't a quantum computer

      I will get excited when quantum computer shall calculate something that is useful and non-trivial, regardless of if it's faster or slower than concurrent digital computers.

      I understand that this news may be a stepping stone towards something greater, but so far results that quantum computing have demonstrated have been either computationally trivial or of no practical use.

  9. osxtra

    Channeling Phil Hartman

    I'm just a simple cave-man. Explain how, if with traditional machines it would take nine thousand years to perform this calculation, you are able to verify the "quantum" output is correct?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used the real world...

    ... to simulate the real world in real time.

    My traditional computer took years to emulate the real world, so my real world is better than a computer.

  11. TheWeetabix

    This makes next to no sense.

    50 million times.more what? Programmed distribution of what? It feels like a case of "We found this exact one thing that works in our quantum system so we're going to act like it's a huge breakthrough instead of a statistical anomaly."

    Perhaps it's the beer.

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