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Fri, 16 Mar 2018
‘Quantum supremacy will soon be ours!’, says Google as it reveals 72-qu...

Don’t panic: ‘supremacy’ is the point at which quantum kit trumps classical computers

Google scientist Marissa Giustina installs a Bristlestone chip

Google reckons it’s on the cusp of demonstrating “quantum supremacy” with the development of a 72-qubit processor.

Quantum supremacy refers to the point at which a quantum computer should outperform a classical computer, without incurring the performance costs of error correction (as described in this 2016 paper).

Google demonstrated a nine-qubit design in 2014 (published in Nature in 2015), and Julian Kelly, a research scientist at the company’s Quantum AI Lab explained that the previous experiment hit one percent readout error rates, 0.1 percent errors for single qubit gates, and 0.6 percent errors for two-qubit gates.

The 72-qubit design, dubbed “Bristlecone”, aims to “preserve the underlying physics” of its predecessor, scaling up “the same scheme for coupling, control, and readout”.

Microsoft ports its Quantum Development Kit to Linux and macOS

The new device doesn’t quite achieve quantum supremacy; rather, it’s a testbed for research into error rates and scalability “as well as applications in quantum simulation, optimisation, and machine learning”.

However, the post hinted that the processor might be the platform that outperforms a classical computer: “We are cautiously optimistic that quantum supremacy can be achieved with Bristlecone”, Kelly wrote.

Another important characteristic of a 72-qubit machine, as illustrated in the image below, is that it’s still within reach of a classical computer simulation, which is currently the only way to validate both that the quantum computer is operating correctly (since you can cross-check the answers), and that it achieves a speed-up over classical computers.

Kelly’s post drew attention to the need to validate a quantum computer’s operation against a simulator, adding that Google’s developed a suitable benchmarking tool: ““We can assign a single system error by applying random quantum circuits to the device and checking the sampled output distribution against a classical simulation.”

Bristlestone would also, Kelly wrote, help Google’s boffins develop quantum algorithms on “actual hardware”.



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Fri, 16 Mar 2018
Cape Town to host African peering forum

The Internet Society and African IXP Association (AFIX) will hold the 9th annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) in Cape Town, South Africa hosted by the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA).

The conference will be held from 21-23 of August 2018 in conjunction with Internet industry conference iWeek, which will run from 20-24 August 2018.

AfPIF is an annual event that serves as a platform to expand and develop the African Internet. It connects infrastructure, service, and content providers with policymakers in order to identify and discuss ways to improve network interconnection, lower the cost of connectivity, and increase the number of users in the region.

More than 200 participants attended last year’s AfPIF in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire including providers of international, regional, and sub-regional transport, transit, and content as well as more than 20 IXPs from Africa and beyond.

This year’s event will be hosted in South Africa, home to the oldest Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Africa, the highest density of IXPs per city in Africa, and the largest carrier neutral data centre in Africa. As a thriving terrestrial infrastructure market and the continent’s most mature peering ecosystem, South Africa will provide an opportunity for attendees to learn from its experiences and explore a growing number of opportunities in the region.

“The African IXP Association has been absolutely amazed by South Africa’s rapid development and is proud to host this year’s AfPIF in Cape Town. We all benefit from their innovation and continued success, and hope that our collective presence will provide additional momentum,” says Kyle Spencer, co-coordinator of the African IXP Association.

“We are delighted to be hosting AfPIF at iWeek for the very first time. This is a fantastic example of the kind of pan-African ICT cooperation envisioned by the Abuja and OR Tambo declarations of the 1990s,” says ISPA chair Graham Beneke.

“The first AfPIF was held in 2010 by the Internet Society from the realization that most of African Internet traffic is exchanged outside the continent, and the region could save costs by exchanging the Internet traffic locally,” says Dawit Bekele, regional bureau director for Africa at Internet Society. “The target is to have at least 80% of the Internet traffic consumed in Africa being locally accessible, and only 20% sourced outside the continent by the year 2020. We are getting closer to that target every year thanks to AfPIF and many activities that promote interconnection and hosting in Africa.”



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Thu, 15 Mar 2018
South Africans would rather be fired than have their phones stolen: survey...

A report showed that more than half of all South Africans with smartphones were using their devices as their preferred method of transacting.

Image: iStock

Good old-fashioned leather wallets are increasingly being replaced by plastic‚ metal and glass as more and more South Africans prefer using their mobile device as a digital wallet.

On Monday online payment platform PayPal released a report showing that more than half of all South Africans with smartphones were using their devices as their preferred method of transacting.

Of the people surveyed‚ 46% said that being able to shop on their mobile phone has made them buy more‚ while 52% said that in the past month they’ve left the house without their wallet at least once‚ instead making their payments with their mobile device.



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