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Categories: Dwave Quatum Computing

Researchers in Canada have used a @DWave  quantum processing unit to solve a computationally challenging problem in condensed matter physics. While the speed of the calculation does not surpass that of the best conventional computers, the work could be a major step towards the use of quantum processors to enhance physicists’ understanding of systems that are currently difficult to compute. Some experts, however, say that the technique has significant limitations.  Advertisement The team focussed on the transverse field Ising model, which is a stalwart of condensed-matter theory. It is used, for example, to describe magnetic materials by assuming that spin magnetic moments are fixed on a regular lattice and interact with their nearest neighbours in the presence of an applied magnetic field. Other systems outside condensed matter physics can also be described by the same equations. Quantum computing expert Helmut Katzgraber of Texas A&M University in the US offers an example: “Suppose you have a very large museum such as the Louvre in Paris and you want to place guards in the museum. You want to find the smallest number of guards that you can distribute across the museum such that every single room is watched.” In 1D, the model’s equations can be solved analytically. In two or more dimensions, however, numerical solutions are required. On a conventional computer, a lot of computing power is needed to run the necessary algorithms: “The workhorse for studying that system is something referred to as quantum Monte Carlo,” explains condensed matter physicist Richard Harris of D-Wave Systems. “People use very large servers to study that particular system using that technique.”

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