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Nasa Begins Exploring Quantum Computing

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  The dilution refrigerator inside the D-Wave Two quantum computer.

The dilution refrigerator inside the D-Wave Two quantum computer cools the processor to 20 millikelvin -- more than 100 times colder than interstellar space.

Credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) researchers have started running applications on a novel machine, the D-Wave Two, to explore quantum computing.

Rupak Biswas with NASA's Exploration Technology Directorate says the agency's initiatives on the D-Wave Two have focused on planning missions, scheduling processes, and re-analyzing portions of data collected by the Kepler telescope. NASA also wants to use D-Wave Two to schedule supercomputing tasks. For example, Biswas says, the machine should be capable of mining an immense number of node combinations to tell engineers precisely which nodes to use for best results.

D-Wave Two's calibration complexity means that it takes about a month to boot up, while its 512-qubit Vesuvius processor operates at 20 millikelvin, which is 100 times colder than outer space. Using the machine entails engineers mapping a problem in quadratic unconstrained binary optimization (QUBO), while an even bigger challenge is embedding the QUBO model onto the supercomputer's quantum architecture. Once this is done, D-Wave Two generates answers as probability, and Biswas says the device so far demonstrates quantum tunneling and superposition.

NASA will share access to the machine over the next five years as part of an alliance with Google and the Universities Space Research Association.

From Federal Computer Week
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