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紐時摘譯:量子電腦開啟新紀元
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A Plan to Start Computing’s Next Era

量子電腦開啟新紀元

By Quentin Hardy

 

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Our digital age is all about bits, those precise ones and zeros that are the stuff of modern computer code.
數位時代講究的是位元,那些精確的01,就是現代電腦程式裡的要素。

But a powerful new type of computer that is about to be commercially deployed by a major American military contractor is taking computing into the strange, subatomic realm of quantum mechanics. In that infinitesimal neighborhood, common sense logic no longer seems to apply. A one can be a one, or it can be a one and a zero and everything in between – all at the same time.
不過,另有一種功能強大的新電腦即將由美國一家大型軍品承包公司拿來執行業務,它把電腦運算帶向量子力學這奇特的次原子領域。在那個無限微小的環境中,常識邏輯似乎不管用:1可以是1,也可以同時是10及介於二者之間的所有數字。

It sounds preposterous. But academic researchers and scientists have been working to develop quantum computers.
聽起來匪夷所思,但學術研究人員及科學家一直在努力研發量子電腦。

Now, Lockheed Martin – which bought an early version of such a computer from the Canadian company D-Wave Systems two years ago – is confident enough in the technology to upgrade it to commercial scale, becoming the first company to use quantum computing as part of its business.
洛克希德馬丁(簡稱洛馬)公司兩年前向加拿大D-Wave系統公司買了一台早期版的量子電腦,現在洛馬對量子運算技術信心十足,要將它升級到商業規模,成為第一家把量子運算納入業務的公司。

If it performs as Lockheed and D-Wave expect, the design could be used to supercharge even the most powerful systems, solving some science and business problems millions of times faster than can be done today.
如果事如洛馬及D-Wave系統所願,使用這種新設計,就連最強大的系統功力也會大增,以比目前電腦快上千百萬倍的速度解決科學及商業問題。

Ray Johnson, Lockheed’s chief technical officer, said his company would use the quantum computer to create and test complex radar, space and aircraft systems. It could be possible, for example, to tell instantly how the millions of lines of software running a network of satellites would react to a solar burst or a pulse from a nuclear explosion – something that can now take weeks, if ever, to determine.
洛馬技術長姜森說,洛馬將用量子電腦創造及測試複雜的雷達、太空及飛機系統。例如,碰到太陽風暴或核爆時,讓人造衛星網絡運轉的千百萬行程式會有什麼反應,量子電腦有可能在瞬間就知道,而目前就算能得到答案,也得花費數周。

Many others could find applications for D-Wave’s computers. Cancer researchers see a potential to move rapidly through vast amounts of genetic data. Researchers at Google have worked with D-Wave on using quantum computers to recognize cars and landmarks, a critical step in managing self-driving vehicles.
許多其他問題也可用量子電腦解決。癌症研究人員發現,量子電腦有迅速分析比對大量遺傳數據的潛力。谷歌的研究人員曾與D-Wave系統合作,以量子電腦辨識汽車及地標,這是管理自動駕駛車輛的關鍵步驟。

Quantum computing is so much faster than traditional computing because of the unusual properties of particles at the smallest level. Instead of the precision of ones and zeros that have been used to represent data since the earliest days of computers, quantum computing relies on the fact that subatomic particles inhabit a range of states. Those states can be narrowed to determine an optimal outcome among a near-infinitude of possibilities, which allows certain types of problems to be solved rapidly.
量子運算遠比傳統電腦運算快,因為最微小的粒子有其不尋常的特質。從電腦誕生以來,01始終被用來代表數據資料,量子運算不靠這種精準性,它仰賴的是:次原子粒子存在於各式各樣狀態中,那些狀態可把接近無限多的可能性限縮,藉此決定一種最理想的結果,迅速解決某些種類的問題。

“What we’re doing is a parallel development to the kind of computing we’ve had for the past 70 years,” said Vern Brownell, D-Wave’s chief executive, a 12-year-old company based in Vancouver.
D-Wave系統公司成立於12年前,總部在加拿大溫哥華,執行長布朗內爾說:「我們目前研發的電腦運算,跟70年來一直在用的,有類似之處。」

D-Wave, and the broader vision of quantum-supercharged computing, are not without its critics. Much of the criticism stems from D-Wave’s own claims in 2007, later withdrawn, that it would produce a commercial quantum computer within a year.
D-Wave公司以及量子運算的更廣泛願景,並非無人挑戰。批評主要源於D-Wave曾於2007年斷言一年內可製成商用量子電腦,後來卻收回了那番話。

D-Wave “has said things in the past that were just ridiculous, things that give you very little confidence,” said Scott Aaronson, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
美國麻省理工學院副教授艾倫森說,D-Wave公司「過去說過一些荒謬的話,讓人難有信心」。

But others say people working in quantum computing are generally optimistic about breakthroughs to come. Quantum researchers “are taking a step out of the theoretical domain and into the applied,” said Peter Lee, the head of Microsoft’s research arm, which has a team in Santa Barbara, Calif., pursuing its own quantum work. “There is a sense among top researchers that we’re all in a race.”
但另有些人說,研究量子運算的人現在普遍對突破將至感到樂觀。微軟公司研究部門主管李伊說,量子研究人員「正踏出理論範疇,進入應用領域」,他說:「頂尖研究人員都覺得大家都在搶第一。」

原文參照:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/technology/testing-a-new-class-of-speedy-computer.html

紐時中文網翻譯:
http://cn.nytimes.com/article/science-technology/2013/03/25/c25quantum/zh-hk/

2013-04-09聯合報/G9/UNITEDDAILYNEWS 馮克芸譯 原文參見紐時週報八版右


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