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Quantum Machine Goes in Search of the Higgs Boson

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A rudimentary quantum computer has rediscovered the Higgs boson.

Their proof-of-principle study – performed using a machine built by quantum-computing company D-Wave working on the now-familiar case of the Higgs boson – does not yet provide a clear advantage over conventional techniques.

The authors say that quantum machine learning could make a difference in future experiments, when the amounts data will grow even larger.

Kyle Cranmer, a physicist at New York University who wasn’t involved in the work, says that it’s refreshing to see a quantum machine applied to a practical physics problem – instead of the usual mathematical questions such as factoring whole numbers into primes.

More recently, particle physicist Maria Spiropulu, who helped lead the Higgs search at CMS, wanted to know whether a quantum computer could help to make the training process more efficient, in particular by reducing the amount of simulated data required to train the system.

The idea was to have the quantum machine find the optimal criteria that an ordinary computer could then use to look for the photon signatures of the Higgs in real data.

Don’t expect physicists to switch to quantum computers just yet: so far, the machine hasn’t performed better than a virtual version of itself that Spiropolu and her team ran on a conventional computer.

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Article originally posted at www.scientificamerican.com

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