Most researchers have no access to D-Wave’s proprietary system, so they can’t simply examine its specifications to verify the company’s claims. But even if they could look under its hood, how would they know it’s the real thing?
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A full-on quantum computer, if ever built, would revolutionize large swaths of computer science, running many algorithms dramatically faster, including one that could crack most encryption protocols in use today.
Over the following weeks, however, a vigorous controversy surfaced among quantum computation researchers. Experts argued over whether the device, created by D-Wave Systems, in Burnaby, British Columbia, really offers the claimed speedups, whether it works the way the company thinks it does, and even whether it is really harnessing the counterintuitive weirdness of quantum physics, which governs the world of elementary particles such as electrons and photons.
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