There’s now proof that quantum computers can outperform classical machines


The hype around quantum computing is real. But to fully realize the promise of quantum computing, it’ll still take a few years of research and scientific breakthroughs. And indeed, it still remains to be seen if quantum computers will ever live up to the hype. Today, though, we got mathematical proof that there are really calculations that quantum computers will definitely be able to perform faster than any classical computer.

What we have today are quantum computers with a very limited number of qubits and short coherence time. Those limitations put a damper on the amount of computation that you can perform on those machines, but they still allow for some practical work. Unsurprisingly, researchers are very interested in seeing what they can do with the current set of available machines. Because they have such short coherence time before the system becomes chaotic and useless for any computations, you can only perform a relatively small number of operations on them. in quantum computing speak, that’s ‘depth,’ and today’s systems are considered shallow.

Science today published a paper (“Quantum advantage with shallow circuits”) by Sergey Bravyi of IBM Research, David Gosset of the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing, and Robert König of the Institute for Advanced Study and Zentrum Mathematik, Technische Universität München. In this paper, the researchers prove that a quantum computer with a fixed circuit depth is able to outperform a classical computer that’s tackling the same problem because the classical computer will require the circuit depth to grow larger while it can stay constant for the quantum computer.

There is very little that’s intuitive about quantum computing, of course, but it’s worth remembering that quantum computers are very different from classical computers.

“Quantum circuits are not just basically the same but different from classical circuits,” IBM Q Ecosystem and Strategy VP Bub Sutor told me. Classic circuits, […]they are bits, they are zeros and ones, and there’s binary logic, ANDs, ORs, NOTs and things like. The very, very basic gate sets, the types of operations you can do in quantum are different. When these qubit are actually operating, with this notion of superposition you have much much more to operate elbow room, not just two bits. You actually have a tremendous amount of more room here.” And it’s that additional room you get because qubits can encode any number and not just zeros and ones, that allows them to be more powerful than a classical computer in solving the specific kind of problem that the researchers tackled.

The question the researchers here asked was if constant-depth quantum circuits can solve a computational problem that constant-depth classical circuits cannot? The problem they decided to look at is a variation on the well-known Bernstein-Vazirani problem (well-known among quantum computing wonks, that is). You don’t need to jump into the details here, but the researches show that even a shallow quantum computer can easily outperform a classical computer in solving this problem.

“We tried to understand what kinds of things we can do with a shallow quantum circuit and looked for an appropriate model for a type of computation that can be done on a near-term quantum device,” IBM Research’s Sergey Bravyi told me. “What our result says is that there are certain computational problems for which you can solve on a quantum computer with a constant depth. So as you increase the number of input bits, the depth of the quantum algorithm that solves the problem remains constant.” A constant depth classical computer can not solve this problem, though.

Sutor was very quick to note that we shouldn’t over hype the current state of quantum computing or this result, though. “We try to be extremely cautious and honest in terms of saying ‘this is what quantum computers can do today’ versus what classical computers will do,” he told me. “And we do this for a very specific reason in that that this is something that will play out over the next three to five years and decades — probably decades.” But what this result shows is that it’s worth exploring quantum algorithms.

As Sutor noted, “there is still this core question, which is, ‘why are you bothering?’” Today’s result should put that question to rest, but Sutor still stressed that he tries to stay grounded and never says quantum computing ‘will’ do something until it does. “There’s a strategy through this, but there’s going to be little left turns and right turns along the way.”

from TechCrunch

Laura Palladino on Using the Nikon DF to Clear Her Mind


All images and text by Laura Palladino. Used with permission

I’m Laura Palladino, a freelance photographer currently residing in a small beach town near Los Angeles. I was born and raised in New Jersey by parents who got me involved in everything from sports, to dance to art. Luckily, art stuck and eventually the drawing and painting transformed into photography. Ever since, I have been shooting film and digital imagery at school, for personal projects, for corporate clients, and for small businesses. I use a Nikon DF with a Sigma Art 24-105 lens when I shoot digitally. When I shoot film, my go-to is my old Minolta or Polaroid Land Camera. Digitally, I shoot in RAW, then edit in Lightroom and/or Photoshop. With film, I develop in a traditional black and white darkroom using Fiber paper.

This year, I followed my dream and moved out to the west coast in search of new adventure and inspiration. This move has opened up my mind to the fact that life’s experiences are more important than working a 9-5 job and I feel that this emotion is showing through in my work. I like to photograph little moments and details that make the viewer pause and feel emotion. I love when I see other photographers’ work and it takes my mind through a small story and I hope my images do that for others.

Why did you get into photography?

I’ve always been an artist, from a very young age. I was painting and drawing ever since I could hold a crayon. In high school, I applied to be in the film photography program and loved it immediately. I was drawn to the meditative nature the darkroom provides as well as seeing the images come to life.

What photographers are your biggest influences?

I love William Eggleston’s aesthetic, Tim Walker’s creativity and execution, Chef Magnus Nilsson’s nordic imagery, Stephen Shore’s ordinary road trip details, and I could go on and on…

How long have you been shooting?

I have been photographing film and digital for 8 years.

Why is photography and shooting so important to you?

Capturing memories and feelings is very important to me. I love to live in the moment and I feel that when I capture those memories, it brings me back to those feelings, such as a cool salty breeze from a sailboat.

Do you feel that you are more of a creator or a documenter? Why?

I feel that I lie in the middle. I love documenting a moment, but I can’t help to frame it my way. Whether that’s moving something out of the frame or telling the subject to move a certain way. The photographs are for my personal use and I’ll adjust what’s in front of the camera (but not always) to get a shot that I love.

What’s typically going through your mind when you create an image? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically?

When I am photographing, I feel like I am in a bubble. It is a little escape to be behind the camera capturing someone else on the street, little life details and even on product/commercial shoots. I shoot with a Nikon DF which is designed like a film camera. It makes me stop and think about what I shoot since I shoot completely manually. When I got into photography, my dad gave me his old Minolta film camera. I love shooting and developing film. Seeing the image come to life on the paper, each being one of a kind, is magical. Being in the darkroom is a little bubble too. It’s a time to escape from reality and meditate by myself with my work.

Want to walk us through your processing techniques?

I always shoot in RAW when shooting digital. I process them lightly in Adobe Lightroom, then edit further in Photoshop. I like to stick to minimal edits because I want the photos to seem natural. Sometimes, I’ll play with color balance and edit out any details I don’t like. When shooting film, I shoot 35mm black & white and color film then process the rolls and print in a traditional darkroom.

Tell us about the project that your pitching, or your portfolio.

This project is a collection of digital photographs that I made while traveling Australia. Before this trip, I was turned down by every job I applied to and my boyfriend (at the time) and I decided to take a break. I needed an escape, and my best friend and I decided to backpack Australia’s east coast.

I brought my camera everywhere and photographed everyday. It was an outlet for my emotions. No one was seeing what I took, it was as if I was creating a visual journal for myself. At the time I was just shooting to clear my mind. But, when I looked through the body of work I had captured, I saw my emotions in the imagery. Photographing subjects alone, showing unclear identities, capturing my mood in the colors and showing constant movement, were emotions I was working through internally. Seeing my images flutter between happy moments and lonely ones was just showing life’s journey.

When I saw that even the sad moments were learning ones, I really began to embody that everything happens for a reason. There are always ups and downs and you just move through it, and through capturing these images I was able to start a new beginning with a clear mindset.

It was a game changer. All the people I came across valued like and experience so much more than making sure they got a great job. The photos show a mix of emotions, from sad and broken to brief happy moments to quiet peace. It also shows contemplation of self and the journey of figuring out who one is. This trip gave me a new outlook on life and the courage to eventually quit my job and relocate from NJ to LA for a new adventure (which I did this summer!).

I think my project has a theme that is common among many individuals: how to deal with relationships and life changing its course. I love how I can see my emotional journey, having individuals shown alone or not showing their identities, as I search for mine. I want others to see there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

What made you want to get into your genre?

I think I fall under the Lifestyle genre. I enjoy capturing moments and details of everyday life, as well as product and portraiture images for commercial use. It’s a broad category but everyone/everything has a story that needs to be told, and I like to help tell it.

Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision.

Currently I use a Nikon DF with a Sigma Art lens. I love how the DF is set up like an old film camera and the Sigma Art lens could not be crisper! It takes great photos and the film set-up still reminds me to stop and think about the image as I capture it. Recently, I’ve been thinking about investing in a Sony mirrorless camera, as it’s lighter and has video capability. I feel that there are many moments I wish I could capture in video that with the Sony I’ll be able to achieve.

What motivates you to shoot?

I am motivated by everything around me. I am constantly going to art shows, gaining inspiration from social media, and have an amazing group of photographer friends. It makes photography seem like a small community, where we all support each others’ work and life goals.

Visit Laura Palladino’s website to see more of her work.


from The Phoblographer

Sick of managing your Airbnb? Vacasa raises $64M to do it for you


Airbnbing can be a ton of work. Between key pickups, tidying, and maintenance emergencies, renting out your place isn’t such a passive revenue source. But Vacasa equips owners with full-service vacation home management, including listings on top rental platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway, as well as local cleaners who come between guests. It now manages 10,000 vacation rental properties in over 16 countries.

With the peer-to-peer housing market maturing and Airbnb looking to go public, private equity firms see an opportunity in who controls the end relationship with home owners like Vacasa does. So today the startup is announcing it’s raised $64 million in a Series B bridge round led by Riverwood, and joined by Level Equity, Assurant, and Newspring. The cash will fuel Vacasa’s expansion into real estate as it seeks to sell property to people who want to own and rent out a vacation home.

Vacasa was impressively bootstrapped from 2009 until 2015. “I’ve always been passionate about vacation rentals. When traveling with friends or family, I love having common spaces to come together in” says CEO Eric Breon. He founded the company after owning a vacation cabin on the Washington Coast. He’d go up in the Spring, spend a weekend fixing up the place, it’d sit idle all summer, and then he’d have to spend another weekend closing it up. He considered a local property manager, but they massively underestimated how much he could earn off renting it out. So Breon built Vacasa to make it easy for home owners to earn the most money without a hassle.

After years growing the business organically, Vacasa raised a $35 million series A from Level Equity in 2015, then $5 million more from Assurant. Then in fall of 2017, it raised an $103.5 million series B. Now it’s topping up that round with $64 million and a new valuation warranted by the startup’s growth this past year. That brings Vacasa to a total of $207.5 million in funding

While that’s just a fraction of the over $4.4 billion Airbnb has raised. But Vacasa caters to a more upscale market that don’t want to manage the properties themselves. With plenty of popular listings sites out there, Vacasa gets easy distribution. But eventually as the other giants in the space become public companies, they’ll be forced to chase bigger margins that could see them compete with Vacasa after years of partnership.

Breon remains confident, though. When I ask him the biggest existential threat to the business, he declares that “We’ve reached a point where failure isn’t a realistic outcome. We have great retention of our homeowners, and strong recurring revenue. The question is more about how quickly we can continue scaling into the huge $32 billion market we’re focused on.” Getting to an exit might not be quite so straightforward, but with life seeming to get more stressful by the year, there’ll be no shortage of people seeking a getaway.

from TechCrunch

Inside Facebook’s ‘war room’ is a battle for public trust



The internet has a misinformation problem. Symptoms include fake news, election interference, hate speech, trolling — it goes by many names. It’s become increasingly clear over the past few years that social media platforms should bear some responsibility for policing what’s shared on them. None more so than Facebook. For many, it’s the front page of the internet. The place they go to like friends’ baby pictures, watch viral videos and read the news. Facebook’s doing its part to tackle misinformation, and talking about what it’s doing to tackle misinformation even more. And so today, we’re hearing more about the ‘war room.’

On the grand scale, these policing efforts aren’t altruistic. Pressure from governments is one thing, but public opinion is far more important. Every time the integrity of Facebook comes into question, it has a potential effect on the bottom line. You need people to trust and use your service to sell ads. You may have read about the war room several times before, around about when it opened in September. The specifics haven’t changed. It’s a room, as the name suggests, full of Facebook employees, desks, computers, TVs and flags. It’s a place where stakeholders from different teams like “community operations” and “legal” comb the signal.

The focus has recently shifted from the Brazilian to the US mid-term elections. All manner of screens show, in real-time, politically leaning chatter. The tools allow Facebook to take down viral posts claiming the election in Brazil is being delayed by a day, as a non-fictional example. Cool, so Facebook’s doing what it should be doing, and what it’s been told it should be doing. The reason we’re hearing more about it today, though, is simply because the social network invited journalists to come and actually step inside the room.

I get it. Tech companies are notoriously inaccessible. When you get an invite Facebook’s Menlo Park HQ, you go. But there’s a fine line between access and spoon-feeding. There are a number of reports today from visitors of Facebook’s war room, all dressed up in colorful language to disguise the fact there’s no real news value in standing among its inhabitants. Again, I get it. All publications are guilty of this at times. Taking an appointment knowing you’re not going to cover the outcome is wasted time. Everyone has an agenda. Just as Facebook is controlling the spread of misinformation from the war room, it’s also controlling what’s said about the war room — or rather, how much is said about it. Shoving it down our throats, the idea every effort is being made to create a safe space, in turn guides how you think and feel about Facebook.

Opening the door to the war room is Facebook doing what Facebook does best: Advertising.

from Engadget

Samsung has figured out EUV, the holy grail of chipmaking



Samsung has finally nailed a much-anticipated chip manufacturing technique that will help phones perform faster and keep their batteries juiced for longer. The company is now building 7-nanometer chips using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) technology — a process which has been in the pipeline for years but has faced all kinds of challenges in real-world roll-out.

Chips are manufactured by using light to project patterns of circuitry onto silicon wafers. The next generation of chips, however, have features that are smaller than the wavelength of a traditional light — it’s a fat Sharpie where a thin ballpoint is needed, and manufacturers have tried various ways to get around this. Samsung’s existing 10nm and 14nm chips, for example, are exposed to 193nm wavelength light many, many times in a method called multi-patterning. Essentially, the same section of the die is “written” to several times.

Researchers have known for a long time that EUV, which has a wavelength of 13.5nm, is the answer, but machines can be even more expensive, and technological issues have delayed high-volume production. According to Samsung, two major challenges it’s faced have been the power of the light source and the volume of wafers that could be processed every day. But it’s figured that out, and now it’s getting set to commercialize chips that have a 40 percent smaller surface area compared to the company’s previous 10-nanometer tech, while reducing power consumption by 50 percent or boosting performance by 20 percent.

Samsung is already the world’s biggest vendor of memory chips, but its innovation here gives it a massive leap ahead of the competition, not least because it’s the company responsible for keeping Moore’s Law going. The law indicates a doubling of transistors (and therefore processing power) for a given chip every two years, but it’s been slowing down in recent times. Moore’s Law is important if we want to keep seeing smarter, faster tech, and since Samsung supplies a whole range of other companies with its tech, it won’t be long before you’re enjoying exactly that.

from Engadget