Quantum computing may be the key to solving some of the most challenging computer science problems. This is why Google in collaboration with NASA and the Universities Space Research Association today announced that they will launch the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab.
The lab will be hosted at NASA's Ames Research Center and Google has stated their goal is "to study how quantum computing might advance machine learning."
The lab will initially be home to D-Wave Systems Inc. new 512-qubit quantum computer, the D-Wave Two™. D-Wave, a Canadian company with offices in Palo Alto, bills itself as the first commercial quantum computing company.
Google in a post on their Research Blog today said "Machine learning is all about building better models of the world to make more accurate predictions. If we want to cure diseases, we need better models of how they develop. If we want to create effective environmental policies, we need better models of what's happening to our climate. And if we want to build a more useful search engine, we need to better understand spoken questions and what's on the web so you get the best answer."
"Classical computers aren't well suited to these types of creative problems. Solving such problems can be imagined as trying to find the lowest point on a surface covered in hills and valleys. Classical computing might use what's called "gradient descent": start at a random spot on the surface, look around for a lower spot to walk down to, and repeat until you can't walk downhill anymore. But all too often that gets you stuck in a "local minimum" -- a valley that isn't the very lowest point on the surface."
"That's where quantum computing comes in. It lets you cheat a little, giving you some chance to "tunnel" through a ridge to see if there's a lower valley hidden beyond it. This gives you a much better shot at finding the true lowest point -- the optimal solution."
USRA will manage the science operations for the collaboration which will benefit its researchers by having an allocation of 20% of the computing time.
Installation of the new D-Wave Two™ at NASA Ames and is expected to be operation by Q3.