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D-Wave’s Year of Computing Dangerously

After a year of outside investigation, questions remain about a controversial quantum computer

5 min read
D-Wave’s Year of Computing Dangerously
Soul of The Machine: What’s going on inside the D-Wave Two is still a matter of debate.
Photo: D-Wave Systems

When in 1935 physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed his thought experiment involving a cat that could be both dead and alive, he could have been talking about D-Wave Systems. The Canadian start-up is the maker of what it claims is the world’s first commercial-scale quantum computer. But exactly what its computer does and how well it does it remain as frustratingly unknown as the health of Schrödinger’s poor puss. D-Wave has succeeded in attracting big-name customers such as Google and Lockheed Martin Corp. But many scientists still doubt the long-term viability of D-Wave’s technology, which has defied scientific understanding of quantum computing from the start.

D-Wave has spent the last year trying to solidify its claims and convince the doubters. “We have the world’s first programmable quantum computer, and we have third-party results to prove it computes,” says Vern Brownell, CEO of D-Wave.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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