Furthermore, they say the algorithm could be used to calculate complex measurements such as radar cross sections, an ability integral to the development of radar stealth technology, among many other applications. Their research is reported in the June 18 issue of Physical Review Letters.
The field of quantum computing is still relatively young. First proposed in the 1980s, a quantum computer harnesses the principles of quantum mechanics (the physics of very small things like electrons and photons) to process information significantly faster than traditional computers. A classical computer has a memory made up of bits (units of information), where each bit represents either a one or a zero. A quantum computer maintains a sequence of qubits. Similar to a bit, a single qubit can represent a one or a zero, but it can also represent any quantum superposition of these two states, meaning it can be both a one and a zero simultaneously.
While several few-qubit systems have been built, a full-scale quantum computer is still years away. Qubits are difficult to manipulate, since any disturbance causes them to fall out of their quantum state or “decohere,” and their behavior can no longer be explained by quantum mechanics. Other larger scale non-universal computers have been built — including the much-heralded D-Wave computer, purchased by NASA and Google last month — but none of them currently have the power to replace classical computers.
Theoretical breakthroughs in quantum algorithm design are few and far between. In 1994 Peter Shor introduced a method for finding the prime factors of large numbers — a capability that would render modern cryptography vulnerable. Fifteen years later, MIT researchers presented the Quantum Linear Systems Algorithm (QLSA), that promised to bring the same type of efficiency to systems of linear equations — whose solution is crucial to image processing, video processing, signal processing, robot control, weather modeling, genetic analysis and population analysis, to name just a few applications.
“But it didn’t quite deliver; based on their process, no one could figure out how to get a useful answer out of the computer,” explains APL’s David Clader, who along with Bryan Jacobs, and Chad Sprouse wrote, “Preconditioned Quantum Linear System Algorithm.”
As presented, the algorithm had three features that made it difﬁcult to apply to generic problem speciﬁcations and achieve the promised exponential speedup, they wrote. Technical details with setting up the problem on a quantum computer made it unclear how one would apply it to a real-world calculation. In addition, the promise of exponential speedup was only true for a very restricted set of linear systems that typically don’t exist in real-world problems. Finally, getting a useful answer from the calculation proved to be quite difficult due to intricacies with the inherently probabilistic nature of quantum measurement.
In their paper, the authors describe how they were able to solve each of these issues and extract useful information from the solution. Furthermore, they demonstrated the applicability of the algorithm by showing how to encode the problem of calculating the electromagnetic scattering cross-section, also known as radar cross section (RCS).
RCS measurements have become increasingly important to the military. It refers to the power that would be returned by an object when illuminated with radar. The power indicates how well the radar can detect or track that target, so there are ongoing efforts to reduce the RCS of such objects as missiles, ships, tanks and aircraft. With a quantum computer, APL researchers have now shown that these calculations can be done much faster and model much more complex objects than would be possible using even on the most powerful classical supercomputers.
The work was funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity under its Quantum Computer Science program, which explores questions relating to the computational resources required to run quantum algorithms on realistic quantum computers.
The Applied Physics Laboratory, a not-for-profit division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit www.jhuapl.edu.
Paulette Campbell | Newswise
Scientists take nanoparticle snapshots
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New paths for generation of ultracold molecules
11.02.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.
The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
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