What's the Latest Development? 

A partnership between Google and NASA has resulted in the purchase of a quantum computer which both organizations expect to aid in the development of artificial intelligence, specifically machine learning, a branch of AI that focuses on construction and study of systems that learn from data. The new initiative will use the D-Wave Two quantum computer. "A recent study confirmed the D-Wave One quantum computer was much faster than conventional machines at specific problems. The machine will be installed at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Facility at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California."

What's the Big Idea?

To understand the difference between classical and quantum computing, imagine you are trying to find the lowest point in a geographical area filled with hills and valleys. “Classical computing might...start at a random spot on the surface, look around for a lower spot to walk down to, and repeat until you can’t walk downhill anymore. But all too often that gets you stuck in a 'local minimum'—a valley that isn't the very lowest point on the surface." Quantum computing gives you the chance to "tunnel" through a ridge to see if there’s a lower valley hidden beyond it. This gives you a much better shot at finding the true lowest point—the optimal solution.

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