Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

A new quantum approach to big data
by Staff Writers
Boston MA (SPX) Jan 29, 2016

This diagram demonstrates the simplified results that can be obtained by using quantum analysis on enormous, complex sets of data. Shown here are the connections between different regions of the brain in a control subject (left) and a subject under the influence of the psychedelic compound psilocybin (right). This demonstrates a dramatic increase in connectivity, which explains some of the drug's effects (such as "hearing" colors or "seeing" smells). Such an analysis, involving billions of brain cells, would be too complex for conventional techniques, but could be handled easily by the new quantum approach, the researchers say. Image reprinted with permission from "Homological scaffolds of brain functional networks," by Francesco Vaccarino et al., in Interface, published by the Royal Society.

From gene mapping to space exploration, humanity continues to generate ever-larger sets of data - far more information than people can actually process, manage, or understand. Machine learning systems can help researchers deal with this ever-growing flood of information. Some of the most powerful of these analytical tools are based on a strange branch of geometry called topology, which deals with properties that stay the same even when something is bent and stretched every which way.

Such topological systems are especially useful for analyzing the connections in complex networks, such as the internal wiring of the brain, the U.S. power grid, or the global interconnections of the Internet. But even with the most powerful modern supercomputers, such problems remain daunting and impractical to solve. Now, a new approach that would use quantum computers to streamline these problems has been developed by researchers at MIT, the University of Waterloo, and the University of Southern California.

The team describes their theoretical proposal this week in the journal Nature Communications. Seth Lloyd, the paper's lead author and the Nam P. Suh Professor of Mechanical Engineering, explains that algebraic topology is key to the new method. This approach, he says, helps to reduce the impact of the inevitable distortions that arise every time someone collects data about the real world.

In a topological description, basic features of the data (How many holes does it have? How are the different parts connected?) are considered the same no matter how much they are stretched, compressed, or distorted. Lloyd explains that it is often these fundamental topological attributes "that are important in trying to reconstruct the underlying patterns in the real world that the data are supposed to represent."

It doesn't matter what kind of dataset is being analyzed, he says. The topological approach to looking for connections and holes "works whether it's an actual physical hole, or the data represents a logical argument and there's a hole in the argument. This will find both kinds of holes."

Using conventional computers, that approach is too demanding for all but the simplest situations. Topological analysis "represents a crucial way of getting at the significant features of the data, but it's computationally very expensive," Lloyd says. "This is where quantum mechanics kicks in." The new quantum-based approach, he says, could exponentially speed up such calculations.

Lloyd offers an example to illustrate that potential speedup: If you have a dataset with 300 points, a conventional approach to analyzing all the topological features in that system would require "a computer the size of the universe," he says. That is, it would take 2300 (two to the 300th power) processing units - approximately the number of all the particles in the universe. In other words, the problem is simply not solvable in that way.

"That's where our algorithm kicks in," he says. Solving the same problem with the new system, using a quantum computer, would require just 300 quantum bits - and a device this size may be achieved in the next few years, according to Lloyd.

"Our algorithm shows that you don't need a big quantum computer to kick some serious topological butt," he says.

There are many important kinds of huge datasets where the quantum-topological approach could be useful, Lloyd says, for example understanding interconnections in the brain. "By applying topological analysis to datasets gleaned by electroencephalography or functional MRI, you can reveal the complex connectivity and topology of the sequences of firing neurons that underlie our thought processes," he says.

The same approach could be used for analyzing many other kinds of information. "You could apply it to the world's economy, or to social networks, or almost any system that involves long-range transport of goods or information," Lloyd says. But the limits of classical computation have prevented such approaches from being applied before.

While this work is theoretical, "experimentalists have already contacted us about trying prototypes," he says. "You could find the topology of simple structures on a very simple quantum computer. People are trying proof-of-concept experiments."

The team also included Silvano Garnerone of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and Paolo Zanardi of the Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology at the University of Southern California.


Related Links
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Microsoft donates cloud computing 'worth $1 bn'
San Francisco (AFP) Jan 19, 2016
Microsoft said Tuesday it will put a billion dollars' worth of cloud computing power in the hands of non-profit groups and university researchers free of charge. A philanthropic arm of the US software colossus will make the donation during the coming three years to 70,000 non-profit groups and researchers, chief executive Satya Nadella said while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, ... read more

Russia postpones manned Lunar mission to 2035

Audi joins Google Lunar XPrize competition

Lunar mission moves a step closer

Momentum builds for creation of 'moon villages'

Opportunity Abrasion Tool Conducts Two Rock Grinds

Rover uses Rock Abrasion Tool to grind rocks

Thales Alenia Space to supply reaction control subsystem for ExoMars

Money troubles may delay Europe-Russia Mars mission

Arab nations eye China, domestic market to revive tourism

2016 Goals Vital to Commercial Crew Success

Space: The here-and-now frontier

Russian Space Agency discussing possible training of Iranian astronaut

China aims for the Moon with new rockets

China shoots for first landing on far side of the moon

Chinese Long March 3B to launch Belintersat-1 telco sat for Belarus

China Plans More Than 20 Space Launches in 2016

Astronaut Scott Kelly plays ping pong with water

Japanese astronaut learned Russian to link two nations

NASA, Texas Instruments Launch mISSion imaginaTIon

Water in US astronaut's helmet cuts short Briton's 1st spacewalk

Ariane 5 is readied for an Arianespace leading customer Intelsat

Roscosmos Approves Delay of Eutelsat 9B Launch Due to Bad Weather

Assembly begins on 2nd Ariane 5 launcher for 2016

EpicNG satellite installed on Ariane 5 for launch

Follow A Live Planet Hunt

Lab discovery gives glimpse of conditions found on other planets

Nearby star hosts closest alien planet in the 'habitable zone'

ALMA reveals planetary construction sites

Acoustic tweezers provide much needed pluck for 3-D bioprinting

Designing a pop-up future

Chanel swaps bling for eco-inspired haute couture

Material may offer cheaper alternative to smart windows

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.