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Google Collaborates With D-Wave on Possible Quantum Image Search

D-Wave processor

D-Wave's 16-qubit processor mounted in its sample holder.

Credit: D-Wave

Google has developed new search technology that recognizes images significantly faster than the computers currently used in its data centers. The image search uses the quantum adiabatic algorithms discovered by Edward Farhi and collaborators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was run on the C4 Chimera chip, a processor developed by D-Wave. Google demonstrated the search technology at the recent Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Vancouver.

Google showed the system 20,000 photographs, half with images of cars, and drew boxes around them, then presented 20,000 new photos, also with half containing cars. The system was able to identify cars at a much faster rate than conventional computers.

In a blog post, Google's Hartmut Neven said the company has been exploring the use of quantum algorithms to speed up image searching for the past three years. However, Neven did not claim D-Wave's hardware was a quantum computer. "D-Wave develops processors that realize the adiabatic quantum algorithms by magnetically coupling superconducting loops called rf-squid flux qubits," according to Neven. "This design realizes what is known as the Ising model which represents the simplest model for an interacting many-body system and it can be manufactured using proven chip fabrication methods."

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