Friday, August 02, 2013

This Is A Technological Break Through That Sounds Like It Will Matter To Healthcare Over Time.

This appeared a few days ago.

Quantum computing holds huge promise

Posted on Jul 18, 2013
By Mike Miliard, Managing Editor
A Canadian computing company called D-Wave Systems has been in the news recently, since it was announced this spring that NASA, Google and the Universities Space Research Association (a nonprofit wing of National Academy of Sciences, comprising universities with graduate programs in space science) have contracted to use its technology.
D-Wave bills itself as the first commercial quantum computing firm. Its computer, the D-Wave Two, will be put to work at the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab – jointly launched by NASA, Google and the USRA – to advance machine learning and tackle some vexing computer science problems on earth and in the cosmos: everything from speech recognition to the search for exoplanets.
The deal represents a "fundamentally different approach to computing for both industry and government," said Steve Conway, IDC research vice president for high performance computing, in a written statement. "Organizations that depend on leading-edge technology would do well to begin exploring the possibilities for quantum computing."
So what could quantum computing do for healthcare? And, more to the point, what the heck is quantum computing?
As most people know, most computers are binary – they do their computing on the basis of bits that can be either of two things: a zero or one. That's the same, effectively, as yes or no (or on or off).
Quantum computing, which is still a relatively new phenomenon, practically speaking, moves past that binary system. These computers operate via what are called quantum bits – or qubits – that can exist in what's referred to as "superposition": They can be ones or zeroes, or they can be in multiple states at once.
While a typical computer can tackle one challenge at a time, quantum machines are able to blaze through lots of different computations at once. The upshot – glossing over lots of complex physics – is that qubits make for speed and horsepower that far outpace even the most advanced of conventional supercomputers.
"When you string several qubits together, instead of operating on one bit at a time, you can operate on the superposition of exponentially many bits at the same time," Colin Williams, director of business development at D-Wave Systems, tells Healthcare IT News. "There's a fundamentally different mechanism available because you're harnessing different physical principle."
….. Lots of examples omitted
In the healthcare industry, he says, "These kinds of machine learning tools have tremendous potential. One thing you might want to do for example is to train a system on a set of radiographs – some of which contain tumors and some of which don't. You can train the system to classify the difference."
Personalized medicine, too, stands to make big strides. Quantum computers could suss out "something about a person's genome that makes them a responder or non-responder to a particular drug," says Williams.
"I really do think there's an enormous potential impact on the healthcare system," he adds. "And I think we'll see some results begin to emerge in the next few years. The doors are wide open."
The full article is here:
You can read more about all this here:
What I glean from all this is that there are the beginnings of some actual use of quantum computing techniques and that we can only expect to hear more about all this over the next few years.
It is pleasing to read that Australia has some considerable expertise and interest in the area.
The possible applications seem pretty mind blowing to me!

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