Saturday, December 18, 2004

Blogalog 1.0.3: qubits v. quantum gates

There are a ton of interesting thoughts in Wook's latest posting. I think we'll leave the bigger issues of quantum architecture for a later posting, though I'm looking forward to that. In the meantime I'll encourage you to Google on "quantum Turing machine" and noodle on which parts of the TM need to be quantum. For some concrete stuff on where we are with this, see the references from my Aqua recommendations page and my arithmetic page.

One bit of terminology we ought to straighten out. There are two types of qubits, "flying qubits" and static ones. Flying qubits are typically something like photons. They pass through devices that cause computation, something like data values pass through gates in a classical circuit. Many quantum computing technologies use static ones, such as quantum dots or the spin of atomic nuclei. In that case, a qubit is like a bit in a register, and the "gates" (often microwave pulses) feel more like instructions to a classical computer architect. The "program" is usually called a quantum circuit in either case.

So, rather than saying that a PDP-8 takes 10k gates for its CPU, the question is, how many bits of storage does it have? A machine that can run a program might want, say, a few kilobytes.

In most quantum computing proposals, an underlying assumption is that all qubits are equal; any qubit storage location can be manipulated in an arbitrary way. It's like they are all bits in a classical register; there is no RAM/register distinction and no "load" instruction. One of the few proposals that separates qubit storage from "action" locations is the scalable ion trap processor from the Wineland group at NIST. See and the Kielpinski Nature paper. We in the Itoh group have been thinking about how to combine different storage technologies into a larger device, like the difference between cache and RAM. Haven't gotten very far yet.

This has already gotten long, so I'll leave simulation and the qubit flythrough for another posting.

Blogalog 1.0.2: Skin

We'll get to the latest questions on quantum computer architecture shortly. Meantime, a CG question:

What's the latest on human skin? I've heard (from you) that it's extremely tough because it's partially translucent; I assume the way it stretches, folds, and wrinkles are tough to get right, too.

What's the scoop? Is anyone making significant progress?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

blogalog on QC (quantum computing) & CG (computer graphics)

Wook and I are going to do a blogalog on quantum computing and computer graphics. He asks stupid questions about the former, I ask stupid questions about the latter, maybe a person or two learns something. Sometimes they'll be low-level questions, but I hope that sometimes they will also be thought-provoking.

All right, first question:

I'm doing some graphics for my quantum computing stuff, and I need to pick the location of the camera and which direction it is pointing in. I want all of my objects to appear at reasonable sizes, and the frame to be mostly full, and nothing to be cut off. My objects (just spheres and some pipes and some floating text) are of a fixed size, but the number and location vary according to the size of the quantum algorithm I'm animating, and the specific quantum computer topology. Often they are in a line, sometimes they are in a 2D grid, later they will be in more complex arrangements.

How do I pick my camera location and pointing direction?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Aqua: Advancing Quantum Architecture

Okay, so I'm way behind on posting to the blog. I've been sticking to that 20th
century technology, the mailing list.

At any rate, this is a test to see how long it will take Google to pick up the new Aqua (Advancing Quantum Architecture) web page I've created at