Two of World’s Biggest Quantum Computers Made in China

While all this is going on, the fighter jet’s autonomous wingmen establish an ad hoc, high-bandwidth mesh communication network that cuts through the jamming by using unjammed frequencies, aggregating signals across different radio channels, and rapidly switching among different channels. Through a self-organizing network of communication nodes, the piloted fighter in the air connects to the special forces on the ground.

As soon as the network is established, the soldiers begin transmitting real-time video of artillery rockets being transported into buildings. The fighter jet acts as a base station, connecting the flying mesh network of the UAVs with a network of military and commercial satellites accessible to commanders all over the world. Processors distributed among the piloted and unpiloted aircraft churn through the data, and artificial-intelligence (AI) algorithms locate the targets and identify the weapons in the live video feed being viewed by the commanders.

Suddenly, the pilot sees a dot flashing on the far horizon through his helmet-mounted display. Instantly, two of the four teammates divert toward the location indicated by the flash. The helmet lights up a flight path toward the spot, and the pilot receives new orders scrolling across the display:

New Priority: SEARCH AND RESCUE

Downed Pilot, 121 miles NNW

Execute Reconnaissance and Grid Search, Provide Air Cover

The two UAVs that have flown ahead start coordinating to identify the location of hostile forces in the vicinity of the downed aircraft. A Navy rescue helicopter and medical support vessel are already en route. Meanwhile, with the fighter jet speeding away on a new mission, the two other UAVs supporting the special forces squad shift their network configuration to directly link to the satellite networks now serving the base-station role formerly played by the fighter jet. The live video feed goes on uninterrupted. The reconfigurations happen swiftly and without human intervention.

Warfare has always been carried out at the boundary between chaos and order. Strategists have long tried to suppress the chaos and impose order by means of intelligence, communication, and command and control. The most powerful weapon is useless without knowing where to aim it. The

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Two Chinese teams claim to have reached primacy with quantum computers

The Pan team’s optical quantum computer uses a 144-mode interferometer to solve a Gaussian boson sampling problem with a factor-of-1024 speedup in computational time relative to a classical computer. Credit: Chao-Yang Lu/University of Science and Technology of China, via Physics

Two teams in China are claiming that they have reached primacy with their individual quantum computers. Both have published the details of their work in the journal Physical Review Letters.

In the computer world, quantum primacy is the performance of calculations that are not feasible on conventional computers—others use the term “quantum advantage.”

Over the past several years, several teams working with quantum computers have claimed to have reached primacy, but thus far have been met with skepticism due to questions about whether the algorithm used was the best choice possible, including the one used by Google. In this new effort, both teams are claiming that their computers leave no room for doubt.

Both of the teams in these new efforts were working at the Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the University of Science and Technology of China, and both were led by physicist Jian-Wei Pan, who has become well known for his work with quantum entanglement.

In both efforts, the goal was to build a quantum computer capable of calculating the output probabilities of quantum circuits—a task that is relatively simple for a conventional computer to perform when there are just a few inputs and outputs. It grows increasingly difficult as the numbers rise until it becomes unfeasible.

In the first effort, the researchers used a photonic approach in building their computer. To tackle the problem of estimating output probabilities, the team used Gaussian boson sampling as a way to analyze the output. In this case, output from a 144-mode interferometer. Under this scenario, there could be 1043 possible outcomes. The researchers claim their machine was capable of sampling the output 1023 times as fast as a supercomputer, which, they further claim, shows quantum primacy.

The second effort involved creating a superconductor-based computer that was capable of calculating using 66 qubits—only 56 of

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