A significant fraction of the world’s supercomputing power is devoted to solving the Schrödinger equation, primarily in chemical and biological contexts. This is because all matter and energy at the molecular scale behaves according to the rules of quantum mechanics, and in order to predict the properties of substances and processes on this scale a quantum mechanical analysis is necessary. Unfortunately, the calculation time and memory requirements for these analyses scale exponentially with system size on classical computers, making exact simulation literally impossible for all but uninterestingly small systems. This impossibility has a well-known loophole: the same calculations scale polynomially, and it fact linearly, using quantum algorithms. A consequence of this is that even small quantum computers can outperform the most ambitious supercomputers ever conceived for simulating nature at the molecular scale. The current crossover point for quantum chemistry is 49 quantum bits, when a calculation could be performed which is at present out of reach of the world's largest supercomputers. In this presentation I will present an overview of why quantum computers are so good at quantum simulation, and provide some suggestions for how to harness this capability to answer the question in the title.
Download the slides for the presentation (2.5MB).
About the speaker:
Geordie is the founder and CTO of D-Wave, the world leader in the development of commercial scale quantum computing systems.
He is known as a leading advocate for quantum computing and physics-based processor design, and has been invited to speak on these topics in venues ranging from the 2003 TED conference to Supercomputing 2005.
His innovative and ambitious approach to building quantum computing technology has received coverage in BC Business, The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver magazine, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, USA Today, HPCWire, MIT Technology Review magazine, the Harvard Business Review and Business 2.0 magazine, and one of his business strategies was profiled in a Harvard Business School case study. He has received several awards and accolades for his work with D-Wave, including being short-listed for a 2005 World Technology Award.
He holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of British Columbia, specializing in quantum effects in materials. While at McMaster University, he graduated first in his class with a B.Eng. in Engineering Physics specializing in semiconductor engineering.
Since the inception of D-Wave in 1999, Dr. Rose has raised over $45M on behalf of the company, including a round led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ)—the first ever investment by a top-tier US venture capital firm in quantum computing.
Dr. Geordie Rose