(Corrects spelling of name "Boixo" in 10th paragraph)
* Canadian company D-Wave lands $30 million investment
* Firm says technology has applications for drugdevelopment, security
* Debate continues over what defines quantum computing By Sarah McBride
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 4 (Reuters) - D-Wave Systems, aVancouver-based company that aims to develop quantum-computingapplications, said on Thursday it had received $30 million infunding from investors including the firm that manages Amazonfounder Jeff Bezos's venture investments and an investment armof the Central Intelligence Agency.
The investments, from Bezos Expeditions and In-Q-Tel, mark avote of confidence in the potential for practical applicationsfor the emerging technology underpinning quantum computing.
Advocates say the controversial technology works orders ofmagnitude faster than classical computing and has the potentialto revolutionize fields such as drug development. It hasremained mainly an academic concept since its introduction 30years ago, but investors see new commercial opportunities.
Last year, D-Wave sold a $10 million superconducting-basedquantum computer to Lockheed Martin , which installed itat the University of Southern California. This year, it hopes tosell a much more powerful version.
It is also marketing its own quantum-computing capability toother companies, which can tap into D-Wave's facilities usingcloud computing, or remote servers. D-Wave chief executive VernBrownell describes it as infrastructure-as-a-service, adding thecompany inked its first contract in the area a few weeks ago.
The company's technology is controversial in the scientificcommunity, in part because D-Wave places a premium on working atlarge-scale rather than perfect error correction.
Some scientists question whether it is quantum computing atall, but D-Wave Brownell dismisses the skeptics.
"It's very simple to determine if you've built a quantumcomputer or not," he says. "If your machine is running a quantumalgorithm - that is, a problem solving a procedure forbidden bythe laws of classical physics but permitted by quantum mechanics- it's a quantum computer."
Quantum computing as his company handles it is useful onlyin certain areas, Brownell said. He sees the main applicationsfor D-Wave as defense and intelligence, bio-informatics,analytics for large Internet companies such as Google, whichworks with D-Wave on projects such as teaching machines torecognize images of cars, and financial services.
Currently, researchers at the University of SouthernCalifornia are still testing the D-Wave computer's quantumcapabilities to verify that it works faster and more efficientlythan classical computing, said USC engineer Sergio Boixo.
They are working on areas such as machine learning,including improving the efficiency of solar cells, generalcomputer-science problems such as complex scheduling, andminimizing errors in encoded messages such as those sent betweena mobile phone and a tower.
For Lockheed, the hope is that D-Wave's technology can oneday handle software verification and validation much faster thanthe company can do it now-a big task for a company that mustexhaustively test for bugs every time it, say, updates softwarein flight-navigation systems.
Others are working on quantum-computing technology with moregeneral applications.
IBM, for example, has dedicated researchers in the field ata research facility in Yorktown Heights, NY, working onsuperconducting-based quantum technology. IBM uses a differenttechnique compared with D-Wave's adiabatic process, which meansthere is no heat transfer.
Earlier this year, IBM's researchers announced abreakthrough that lengthened the lifespan of quantum bits ofinformation and made the technology work faster, with lesserror.
Meanwhile, researchers at Cambridge University announced abreakthrough in another variety of quantum-computer technologythat relies on lasers.
Scientists at institutions including the National Instituteof Standards and Technology are working on an ion-basedquantum-computing technology. Other organizations are exploringquantum computing based on nuclear magnetic resonance.
"Over the next few years, we'll probably learn a lot moreabout which system is the front-runner," said Matthias Steffen,manager of IBM's experimental quantum computing group. "It's tooearly to tell."
(Reporting By Sarah McBride; Editing by Ken Wills)
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Keywords: DWAVE FUNDING/QUANTUMCOMPUTING