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New Quantum Algorithms Institute at SFU to position B.C. as world leader in quantum computing – Simon Fraser University News

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This October, the provincial government announced it will invest $17 million over the next five years to establish a new Quantum Algorithms Institute hosted at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, serving as the core of the city’s new innovation corridor.

It is a major advancement for a university already recognized as a global leader in quantum computing—one of the most exciting frontiers in technology.

If quantum computing is still in its infancy, popular understanding of the field is barely at the embryo stage. But that does not stop quantum properties like superposition—the ability of a quantum system to be in more than one state at once—and entanglement—an extremely close relationship between quantum particles—from allowing quantum computers to process a staggering amount of data.

SFU physicist Stephanie Simons, a professor and Canada Research Chair in Quantum Nanoelectronics, heads the university’s Silicon Quantum Technology Group. She explains that algorithms are one of the keys to bringing quantum computing into the mainstream.

Q: The new Quantum Algorithms Institute will see SFU collaborate with research universities across B.C. to devise quantum computing software. What makes algorithms such an important aspect of quantum computing?

Algorithms are the basis of software: they are how computers execute a task and solve a problem. And quantum computing requires very specific kinds of algorithms, taking on very particular kinds of problems. The problems that are naturally suited to quantum computing are the ones that need a lot of computational space, but have very succinct answers. A needle-in-a-haystack kind of problem, for instance.

You can do some pen-and-paper work to show that certain quantum algorithms will be exponentially more efficient at accomplishing some tasks than even the best “classical computer.” And by classical computer, I mean all current and future computers that rely on classical physics, including even the most powerful modern supercomputers.

Q: How do algorithms fit into the bigger picture of quantum computing at SFU?

There is so much work going on here, starting with hardware. In 2013, SFU set the world’s record for the longest-lived quantum bit, or qubit, which is the basic building block underpinning all the quantum hardware that people are trying to develop. That work was led by Emeritus Professor Mike Thewalt. Collaborating with him on that project played a big part in attracting me to SFU. SFU has global prominence in the field of silicon-based qubits, which is the hardware platform that Mike and I are running with—and which are arguably the best qubits in the industry. SFU also has an ion trap quantum computing lab and a cold-atoms quantum computing lab.

There is a sector of people working with existing quantum hardware, too. Various SFU professors have collaborated with Burnaby-based D-Wave Systems, which has an adjunct professor in the Physics Department, Mohammad Amin. They are the first company to create a kind of commercial quantum computer. Other professors collaborate with algorithm-focused 1QBit, another quantum startup in Vancouver. And there are others on the application side, thinking about cryptography and about adapting the quantum algorithms we know now to areas like health care and finance.

And more fundamentally SFU has lots of history in the field of “quantum foundations,” improving our understanding of various interpretations of quantum mechanics (this is related to all that stuff about the so-called “multiverse”). It is exciting to be part of this space right now, because there is a lot of cross-pollination.

Q: How does this translate into real-world benefits today?

In analogy to classical computers, we are kind of at the point when the original transistor was built. It has taken 40 years for it to get to the point where we have these supercomputers—smartphones—in our pockets. And the Internet existed for a long time before most people even knew about it, and now none of us can breathe without it. I imagine quantum technologies will likely follow a similar trajectory, but maybe with a more targeted focus.

That said, people working on the pen-and-paper algorithms can already identify areas where we can expect quantum computing to unlock a lot of potential. Finance is one. And cryptography as we know it will be completely different: quantum computers can very efficiently take apart most of our current encryption standards, and they also offer better (physically unhackable!) encryption.

Chemical simulations are another natural application area. Chemicals themselves are quantum objects, and classical techniques of modelling them are inherently bad in some ways. So we will be able to get a much better look at how one molecule interacts with another. I imagine drug development will be a much better process, and so will simulating the behaviour of materials.

Q: It sounds like this dovetails with work that we are doing around the Data for Good campaign.

Absolutely. Any research sector that relies on high-performance computing—directly or indirectly—could potentially benefit. A lot of application areas will probably even have “black box” advantages, where the quantum algorithm to solve a problem somehow works, but we do not exactly know how! We truly do not know yet what the impact will be. It is going to be a lot of fun to see how it shakes out.

See the SFU News story about SFU receiving $17 million to establish the Quantum Algorithms Institute.

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Flying car: Canadians bring flying car one step closer to reality – Globalnews.ca

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A flying car could allow us to get from point A to B, exploring the skies while never sitting in traffic.

This technology is no longer the stuff of fantasy. Numerous companies around the world are racing to make theirs available.

Canada’s Marcus Leng leads one of them.

“I think we’ve all had dreams of complete three-dimensional freedom,” said Leng, who is the CEO of Opener, a company developing a personal aerial vehicle.

As a young boy walking to school, he would wonder if there would ever be an aircraft that you could just jump in “and be able to take off vertically and fly wherever you wanted.”

He started designing and building prototypes in his basement in the small community of Warkworth, Ont.

Read more:
Ground-breaking flying taxi cruises through Paris

“I think our house became a factory,” he recalls.

“The basement was used for basically doing all the structure work … and the kitchen was basically used for manufacturing motors,” he told Global’s current affairs show, The New Reality. “We used to bake the motors in the oven. Boy, would that stink.”

It took over a year for him to fly his first proof-of-concept vehicle in his front yard.

“I found myself eventually at the end of our driveway and my friends and neighbours … were behind a barrier of cars that we had set up,” Leng said.


Marcus Leng flying BlackFly. Photo: Opener.


Opener

“And I figure, just like in skiing, I’ll do a skidding turn in front of them. All went very well, except during the skidding turn, the edge of the wing made contact with the lawn … but the propulsion systems reacted so fast that it basically created this long divot as it scraped through grass without the aircraft losing any control.”

Using eVTOL, which stands for electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing, Leng said he was able to produce a vehicle that doesn’t need a runway to get off the ground.

It’s called BlackFly. Some people often refer to it as a flying car. Leng calls it a personal aerial vehicle designed to fit one person.

Read more:
Flying car completes intercity test flight in Slovakia

Anyone up to six feet six inches and weighing 200 pounds or less can use it.

It has a joystick, can fly in -20 Celsius weather, and operate in about 32 km/h winds.

“In the United States, which is our primary market, we have very serious weight restrictions. So, the American vehicles have a 20-plus mile (32 km) range for an operator that’s 200 pounds,” Leng said.

“In Canada, we don’t have those weight constraints and also we don’t have speed constraints,” said Leng, who in 2014 relocated the majority of his operations to Palo Alto, Calif.

One of the key features about BlackFly is you don’t need a pilot’s licence to fly it.

According to Leng, a potential owner would have to complete a training course and be at least 18 years old.

The nice thing about our vehicle is (that in) both the United States and Canada (it’s) classified as an ultralight aircraft,” he said. “In Canada, you require an ultralight licence, which is relatively easy and straightforward to obtain.”

In order to fly it, you need to take a short training course.

I think the most unique thing is that I can be an operator, you can be an operator … in the course of about two days and a few hours of simulation how to safely fly this aircraft,” said Kristina Menton, who is the director of operations, flight testing and propulsion lead at Opener.

“That is something that is exceptionally novel and really incredible — to be able to give that type of experience of three-dimensional flight to regular people.”  


Kristina Menton, director of operations at Opener, flying BlackFly.


Opener

She said the aircraft is almost exclusively made from carbon fibre, including the wings, fuselage and propellers. It’s electric, and therefore emissions-free.

“We have autoland features. So basically, when you get close to the ground, the aircraft will take over,” Menton said.

Canadians who help make BlackFly … fly

Menton has been working on BlackFly for years. When she first signed on with the company, she had no idea what product she’d be working on.

“I first met Marcus on a phone call the day before my last exam of university. He was looking to hire two mechanical engineers. At the time, the company was completely in stealth mode and he wasn’t able to say what the product was, who the investors were, really any of the technical details,” Menton told Global News.

“But I could get from the phone call that it was a pretty exciting and innovative opportunity and decided to take the leap to jump on board.”

She wasn’t the only one who took the leap. Eleanor Li, Menton’s classmate at the University of Toronto in mechanical engineering, did too. She joined Opener and moved to Silicon Valley without knowing the project she was hired to work on.

“Marcus basically came along and said, ‘Oh, we’re making this huge carbon epoxy part. Do you want to be part of our team?’ And I just said, ‘Yes, yes, here I am,’” said Li, who is now the plant manager at Opener.


Eleanor Li, plant manager at Opener, in a flight simulator at the company headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.


Global News

For years, Leng had been secretly working on his invention while recruiting.

It wasn’t until 2018 that he started letting the world get a glimpse of BlackFly.

In July 2021, Li, Menton and Leng flew Blackfly at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisc. The annual event can bring in hundreds of thousands of spectators.

“The flight is incredible. You have a panoramic view of anywhere,” said Li. “I told this to a few people at Oshkosh: when you’re in the aircraft, you feel like you are the aircraft and the aircraft is you.”

The team is working hard to make the aircraft available to consumers soon.

But first adopters will only be able to fly in rural areas. BlackFly is not allowed to go over built-up areas.

Leng is keeping the price tag to himself, but he believes as the industry advances, BlackFly will become more accessible to people.

“Our objective for next year is to produce 260 vehicles. But the ultimate goal is to be producing tens of thousands of these at a price that would be in line with an SUV,” he said.

See this and other original stories about our world on The New Reality airing Saturday nights on Global TV, and online.

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Poll: The Hype For Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy Is High, Is It In Your Switch Plans? – Nintendo Life

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Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition getting official release details, along with a trailer and lots of screens, was certainly the standout and dominant news item at the end of the week. Perhaps counter to expectations the visual overhaul is a bit more than a simple upscale, with the footage looking rather familiar but undoubtedly fresh. That’s not to say it would be mistaken for footage of games developed from scratch in the 2020s, as characters in particular still have that angular look familiar from past generations.

The official information does point to key gameplay changes, such as controls more in tune with what players know from GTA V. Yet we’d suggest those control updates will need to be good; you may have fond memories of the original ‘3D’ GTA trilogy, but they’re of their time and don’t necessarily feel particularly smooth to play now. Perhaps The Trilogy will fix that, it’s certainly one of the big tests it’ll face.

Another question will be how it’ll stack up on Switch. We don’t think it’s a particularly outrageous suggestion to say we’ll be looking at it targeting 30fps on Nintendo’s system, at best, and if previous reports were accurate and Unreal Engine has been used, that makes some caution advisable. While Unreal games can certainly run on Switch, the system’s library is also full of dodgy ports where the different iterations of the engine simply don’t play nice with the hardware. Here’s hoping that the sheer volume of resources at Rockstar’s disposal – and the knowledge that the release could be a big seller on Switch – will ensure that a carefully optimised version arrives on the hybrid.

Image: Rockstar

As for the release details, it’s split up between eShop and retail. The digital / eShop version isn’t far away on 11th November, while those that want the physical edition need to wait until 7th December. It’ll cost £49.99 / $59.99, though that is three games in the package of course, while the file size is 25.4GB; we’ll need to wait and see whether Rockstar will opt for a Switch cartridge big enough to hold the full package or force mandatory downloads. We’ll keep an eye out for updates.

For some this trilogy release will be revisiting old classics, and no doubt for many it’ll represent their first playthroughs of these iconic games. We’re curious where you fall in these categories, so by all means pitch in with the polls and comments below – is this a November (eShop) or December (physical) pick-up for you?

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Epic Games opposes Apple's effort to pause antitrust trial orders – Reuters

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Smartphone with Epic Games logo is seen in front of Apple logo in this illustration taken, May 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Oct 22 (Reuters) – “Fortnite” creator Epic Games on Friday opposed Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) efforts to put on hold orders handed down in an antitrust trial as a potentially lengthy appeals process plays out.

U.S. district Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in September struck down some of the iPhone maker’s App Store rules, including a prohibition on developers directing their users to other payment options beside Apple’s in-app payment system, in a partial win for Epic and other app makers. read more

Apple has until Dec. 9 to comply with the injunction, but earlier this month the company said it will appeal the ruling and asked Gonzalez Rogers to put her order on hold as the appeals process, which could take more than a year, unfolds.

Epic on Friday argued in a court filing that Apple has not met the legal standard for that pause, which requires Apple show that it will be irreparably harmed by even temporarily complying with the order if the injunction is later reversed on appeal.

Epic said that Apple’s positive comments about the ruling shortly after it landed, and its delay in asking for a pause, showed that it would not be harmed by enacting the orders.

“The public interest favors denying (Apple’s request); an injunction is the only path to effective relief,” Epic wrote. “History shows … that in the absence of an injunction, Apple will not make any changes.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A hearing on Apple’s request is set for Nov. 9.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Franicsco; Editing by Himani Sarkar

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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