Now the first results of a proper race between D-Wave’s quantum machine and conventional software on a regular computer have come out, and they look good for the Vancouver company.
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When I visited D-Wave last year I saw some spectacular hardware and heard of significant backing for the company (see “The CIA and Jeff Bezos Bet On Quantum Computing”). But no one was able to show me results from pitting one of D-Wave’s unusual computers directly against a conventional one to prove how much faster they could be.
Catherine McGeoch, a computer science professor at Amherst College, carried out the tests and will soon present her results in a peer reviewed paper at the International Conference on Computing Frontiers. Her verdict on D-Wave’s computer? “In some cases, really, really fast.”
McGeoch is an expert in “experimental algorithmics” – algorithm racing, essentially – and conducted her tests using three examples of what are known as “optimization” problems. These are the mathematical core of conundrums such as figuring out the most efficient delivery route around a city, or how the atoms in a protein will move around when it meets a drug compound.
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