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Summary:

An Australian company called Aerospace Concepts is partnering with Lockheed Martin to perform research on its quantum computer that could result in the world’s first quantum computing software company. Aerospace Concepts specializes in complex system design, a presumably strong use case for quantum computing.

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photo: U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder

The technology world might soon be welcoming its first quantum computing software vendor, an Australian systems-analysis firm called Aerospace Concepts. The company, which also has a U.S. presence in a Washington, D.C., technology incubator, has partnered with Lockheed Martin to perform applied research about complex systems analysis on Lockheed’s D-Wave Systems quantum computer.

What that means, Aerospace Concepts COO Michael Brett told me via email, is that the company wants to develop algorithms that can wade through the complexities of creating advanced systems and help determine designs that best balance the various inherent tradeoffs. “For example,” he wrote, “a satellite needs to trade power and capacity while minimizing mass, so what is the best combination of factors to improve design.”

Theoretically — because the technology is still very much in its early days –quantum computing is ideal for this type of optimization problem as well as for advanced machine learning tasks, as D-Wave CEO Vern Brownell explains in the video below. NASA and Google also possess a D-Wave quantum computer.

“Also, we’re keen to use this access to build software and services unique to quantum computing and grow our business in step with the technology base,” Aerospace Concepts’ Brett added.

Presumably, Aerospace Concepts would develop the quantum algorithms and then deliver them as packaged software to its customers. Those algorithms might be able to run on standard hardware, or perhaps the company will deliver them as a service, running customer jobs on the Lockheed system or on whatever cloud-based version of the D-Wave technology ultimately surfaces.

Brett noted that Aerospace Concepts has a close relationship with D-Wave already, and would “welcome to the opportunity” to buy its own quantum computer or access future cloud computing resources.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Aerospace Concepts will even succeed in its goals for this partnership, or, for that matter, even that D-Wave’s machines will ultimately prove viable. But even the talk of a quantum computing software company this early into the technology’s commercial existence (Lockheed bought its D-Wave system in 2011) is exciting. I listed quantum computing as one of the five technologies that will help big data cross into the mainstream, and doing so will require an ecosystem of companies working to make it consumable outside the small number of companies that can afford to hire the world’s small number of quantum computer scientists.

  1. this would be perfick for bitcoin miners to figer out, software update and have 1millon bitcoin servers working on probems like that this was what bitcoin server was ment to do,
    just need more powerfull software coinsider this idea don’t forget who given u the idea

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  2. Derrick Harris, stop pretending you are a journalist. Who cares what is the opinion of a brow-nose sock-puppet and parrot like you.

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    1. Derrick Harris Wednesday, May 7, 2014

      A fair point.

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    2. Pretty Harsh, seemed like a well written piece.

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      1. Yea, but in his defense, when he (rrtucci) did raise a valid point to him Derrick ignored him. Apparently that’s is what makes this guy react.
        Besides. It’s not really that good of a piece in my opinion.
        The information is not really current or relevant.
        I’ve been covering quantum computing, D-Wave, and the Lockheed purchase for a couple of years now, and my experience has led me to conclude a few things. First off is the public’s general knowledge of quantum computing to begin with. Most of the public has none!
        Of those who do, few of them even understand how they work, much less how they utilize software. (In fact, I’d even go so far as to include the author.)
        The reason I say this is because he makes it sound as if the company is out there designing operating systems and writing programs for use someday in your living room instead of the real, (rather boring) truth that is what the algorithms do. (They create and maintain the “quantum” state using algorithms rather than actually manipulating particles on an atomic scale.
        D-wave has been putting out quantum computers for a while now and only a select few have purchased them. (Google being one of the latest.) Of those that have made the buy, most have declared their reason for the purchase as being “Research and Development.”
        (In other words, hire a few guys to write algorithms and see what they can do with it.)
        This article amounts to nothing more than a full page ad for Aerospace Concepts rather than a well researched piece of information on some new and cutting edge technology and it’s future potential.
        (Even a more direct and honest story on Aerospace Concepts and D-Wave’s relationship would have been better.)

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  3. I’ve had a quantum computing SOFTWARE company (with 10 patents) for 15 years but you didn’t report that.

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    1. Derrick Harris Thursday, May 8, 2014

      Can you send over some information on it?

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      1. Here is the website of my small company. Lockheed Martin and defense contractors don’t need any publicity; they get their government contracts in gratitude for their campaign contributions. My company does.
        http://www.ar-tiste.com

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        1. I think he’s got you!
          He made a comment you probably thought was BS, and you called him on it.
          He however, wasn’t BSing you, and came through.
          I follow with a challenge.
          Write an article on his company and have it published as a followup to this one.

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          1. I noticed that you had no problems responding when you though you had the upper hand.

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  4. This could control the motion of say a trillion mechanical nano creatures that could be designed to do anything from eating cancer to finding gold. Imagine the doctor saying take these and call me in the morning

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  5. It is strange that this piece uncritically describes the d-wave device as a quantum computer. The vast majority of experts have concluded it’s essentially a classical device. For a good view of what’s really going on, check out this article: http://www.inc.com/will-bourne/d-waves-dream-machine.html

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    1. Derrick Harris Thursday, May 8, 2014

      The last study I saw was leaning toward quantum computing: http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v10/n3/full/nphys2900.html

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      1. The evidence in the paper you cite was debunked by Vazirani et al even before it was even published. Final words of the paper you cite:

        “This suggests that although the device’s performance is consistent with quantum annealing, it operates in a temperature regime where, for most random Ising spin glass instances, a quantum annealer may have an effective semi-classical description.”

        Presenting the device as a quantum computer when you know very well that almost nobody believes it is one seems like an unusual choice. Take a look at the “dream machine” article above—it takes a much more balanced approach.

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        1. Anonymous: you should probably post under your real name! Makes it less obvious that you’re a sock puppet. Pretty much everything you wrote here is the opposite of the truth — harder to do that when you have to stand by your words!

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          1. *Drops mic*

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        2. Anonymous: Vazirani et al. paper was demolished here: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1403.4228v1.pdf

          Also, the article you quote from is written by a biased journalist who knows nothing about quantum mechanics!. Cheers.

          Sol Warda

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  6. Derrick Harris, this is what real journalism about Lockheed Martin looks like
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/03/the-f-35-a-weapon-that-costs-more-than-australia/72454/

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  7. Good article. Lockheed Martin is on the cutting edge of much technology these days. Pretty cool.

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  8. Its all disclosure. The technology has been used for 20 some years. But now what is becoming everyday technology has to be explained some how.

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  9. Kingsley Jones Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    You know, the fun topic of conversation in the future may well be this:

    “Can anybody be the first to build a classical computer?”

    In a quantum world, it is hard to see how ;-)

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    1. Kingsley, I think you are missing the crucial aspect that’ll make classical computing possible, they will have to be constantly observed, I dub this “quantum-locking”, it’ll force the machine to behave classically.

      In order to make it easy on a person to persistently stare at the computer at all times there needs to be a large area to visually target. For the time being let’s call it a screen (it’s work in progress I am sure one can come up with better names).

      I think I may want to write this up and apply for a patent … classical computing let’s make it happen!

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