NASA and Google Team Up with Speedy D-Wave Quantum Computer

First Posted: May 16, 2013 08:39 AM EDT

The quantum computer is getting quite a bit of support these days. NASA and Google are teaming up to launch a new laboratory that's focused on advancing machine learning, called the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab. The new lab, which will contain a quantum supercomputer, may give scientists the help they need to pioneer breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.

The quantum computer itself is called the D-Wave Two processor. Worth an estimated $15 million, the computer employs quantum physics in order to boost its speed, according to BBC News. While conventional computing is binary (which uses the typical 1s and 0s), quantum computing relies on the fact that subatomic particles inhabit a range of states. Different relationships among these particles may coexist, and the probable states can be narrowed in order to determine an optimal outcome among a near-infinitude of possibilities.

Google believes that the speed that quantum computing offers will be an invaluable tool in developing its web search and speech recognition technology, according to The Verge. The computing, which is estimated by be about 3,600 times faster than conventional methods, could also assist researchers in the creation of better models of disease and climate patterns.

Yet quantum computers didn't always have these big name backers. D-Wave Systems, the company that designed this particular computer, has drawn skepticism over the years from quantum computing experts. In fact, some researchers suggested that the company's machines showed no evidence of using specifically quantum effects, according to BBC News.

That view, though, has changed. Now, the D-Wave Two processor could help revolutionize problem solving for NASA and Google. The computer itself is based around quantum annealing, which is a way of distilling the optimal mathematical solutions from all the possibilities. It has the potential to easily beat out conventional computing--at least for certain types or problems. In fact, a recent study actually tested how a quantum computer measured up to a conventional computer.

Currently, NASA officials and Google representatives are working together in order to create a lab that could provide some cutting edge research in the future.

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