Moving beyond Sudoku
In a comment posted to one of yesterday's items about quantum computing, a reader named Peter Hooper said:
Who cares about Sudoku?...maybe you should focus more on the practical applications of a quantum computer rather than 3 posts of Sudoku. What advantages do quantum computers have over traditional computers? Is it the beginning of a new wave of technologies? Will we finally calculate the meaning of life or just have better Sudoku and Chess tournaments?
Hooper's got a point. In The Browser's interview with Geordie Rose, the CTO of D-Wave, he held out the prospect that fully functioning quantum computing could do tasks "a million or a billion times faster" than today's computers. Speed, of course, has profound implications, and will allow computers to tackle tasks that today elude them. That could create havoc: security encryption, for example, is going to have to undergo a revolution in sophistication. Rose believes that the most dominant users of quantum computing will be in the life sciences, which is why one of the tests Tuesday (in addition to the Sudoku) involved matching molecules. The video of this portion is here:
One likely application of this technology would be in pharmaceuticals: with superprecise molecular mapping, scientists could determine the exact effects of a drug without ever having to do trials in living beings.
But let's not dismiss the Sudoku component altogether. The presumed ability of quantum computing to solve "NP complete" problems like a massive Sudoku puzzle could have tremendous applications for essentially all kinds of businesses. That's because modeling for things like resource allocation or efficient use of transportation will become far more robust and useful.
Will quantum computing, to use Hooper's phrase, "calculate the meaning of life"? Perhaps not, but it should deepen it.
Thanks for spelling out the benefits of solving the "NP complete" problems and other quantum cpu benefits for my binary mind! The meaning of life? Sudoku of course.
Let's see make business more efficient at what they do so the rich don't have to bother with us inferiors to get everything their greedy little hands desire...
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