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Exclusive: Google’s ‘quantum supremacy’ usurped by researchers using ordinary supercomputer – TalkOfNews.com

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Google’s ‘quantum supremacy’ usurped by researchers using ordinary supercomputer

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Back in 2019, Google proudly announced that they had achieved what quantum computing researchers had sought for years: proof that the esoteric technique could outperform traditional ones. But this demonstration of “quantum supremacy” is being challenged by researchers claiming to have pulled ahead of Google on a relatively normal supercomputer.

To be clear, no one is saying Google lied or misrepresented its work — the painstaking and groundbreaking research that led to the quantum supremacy announcement in 2019 is still hugely important. But if this new paper is correct, the classical vs. quantum computing competition is still anybody’s game.

You can read the full story of how Google took quantum from theory to reality in the original article, but here’s the very short version. Quantum computers like Sycamore are not better than classical computers at anything yet, with the possible exception of one task: simulating a quantum computer.

It sounds like a cop-out, but the point of quantum supremacy is to show the method’s viability by finding even one highly specific and weird task that it can do better than even the fastest supercomputer. Because that gets the quantum foot in the door to expand that library of tasks. Perhaps in the end all tasks will be faster in quantum, but for Google’s purposes in 2019, only one was, and they showed how and why in great detail.

Now, a team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences led by Pan Zhang has published a paper describing a new technique for simulating a quantum computer (specifically, certain noise patterns it puts out) that appears to take a tiny fraction of the time estimated for classical computation to do so in 2019.

Not being a quantum computing expert nor a statistical physics professor myself, I can only give a general idea of the technique Zhang et al used. They cast the problem as a large 3D network of tensors, with the 53 qubits in Sycamore represented by a grid of nodes, extruded out 20 times to represented the 20 cycles the Sycamore gates went through in the simulated process. The mathematical relationships between these tensors (each its own set of interrelated vectors) was then calculated using a cluster of 512 GPUs.

An illustration from Zhang’s paper showing a visual representation of the 3D tensor array they used to simulate Sycamore’s quantum operations.

In Google’s original paper, it was estimated that performing this scale of simulation on the most powerful supercomputer available at the time (Summit at Oak Ridge National Laboratory) would take about 10,000 years — though to be clear, that was their estimate for 54 qubits doing 25 cycles. 53 qubits doing 20 is considerably less complex but would still take on the order of a few years by their estimate.

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Zhang’s group claims to have done it in 15 hours. And if they had access to a proper supercomputer like Summit, it might be accomplished in a handful of seconds — faster than Sycamore. Their paper will be published in the journal Physical Review Letters; you can read it here (PDF).

These results have yet to be fully vetted and replicated by those knowledgeable about such things, but there’s no reason to think it’s some kind of error or hoax. Google even admitted that the baton may be passed back and forth a few times before supremacy is firmly established, since it’s incredibly difficult to build and program quantum computers while classical ones and their software are being improved constantly. (Others in the quantum world were skeptical of their claims to begin with, but some are direct competitors.)

As University of Maryland quantum scientist Dominik Hangleiter told Science, this isn’t a black eye for Google or a knockout punch for quantum in general by any means: “The Google experiment did what it was meant to do, start this race.”

Google may well strike back with new claims of its own — it hasn’t been standing still either — and I’ve contacted the company for comment. But the fact that it’s even competitive is good news for everyone involved; this is an exciting area of computing and work like Google’s and Zhang’s continues to raise the bar for everyone.

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Exclusive: Sweetgreen's stock plummets after salad chain lowers forecast, announces layoffs and office downsizing – TalkOfNews.com

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Sweetgreen's stock plummets after salad chain lowers forecast, announces layoffs and office downsizing

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A worker wears a Sweetgreen Inc. hat while preparing food inside the company’s restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts.

Adam Glanzman | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of Sweetgreen plunged more than 20% in extended trading Tuesday after the salad chain lowered its 2022 forecast.

The restaurant company also said it laid off 5% of its support center workforce and will downsize to a smaller office building to lower its operating expenses.

As of Tuesday’s close, Sweetgreen’s stock has fallen 37% since its initial public offering in November.

Here’s what the company reported compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Loss per share: 36 cents, in line with estimates
  • Revenue: $124.9 million vs. $130.2 million expected

Sweetgreen sales softened around Memorial Day, leading the company to revise its forecast lower, CFO Mitch Reback said in a statement.

On the company’s conference call, executives attributed the slowdown to a number of factors, including “unprecedented levels of summer travel,” a slow return to the office and another wave of new Covid-19 cases.

In the quarter, ended June 26, Sweetgreen’s net sales rose 45% to $124.9 million. Its same-store sales climbed 16%, boosted by 6% menu price hikes.

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For the year, Sweetgreen now expects annual revenue of $480 million to $500 million, down from its prior forecast of $515 million to $535 million. The chain also revised its outlook for same-store sales, predicting growth of 13% to 19%, down from the previous projection of 20% to 26%.

“We think that it’s a conservative estimate, but looking back, we’ve just been wrong on so many of these calls,” Reback said on the call.

Moreover, Sweetgreen also changed its outlook for adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to a range of $45 million to $35 million, wider than its previous range of $40 million to $33 million.

But the chain explained the steps it’s taking to achieve profitability, including layoffs and reducing its real estate footprint by moving to a smaller office. Severance packages and related benefits are expected to cost the company between $500,000 to $800,000, while the office move will cost $8.4 million to $9.9 million. The charges are expected to impact its third-quarter results.

Sweetgreen reported a second-quarter net loss of $40 million, or 36 cents per share, wider than a net loss of $26 million, or $1.55 per share, a year earlier. The company blamed an increase in stock-based compensation for its increasing losses.

Read the full earnings report here.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Sweetgreen’s previous forecast for its same-store sales growth.

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Exclusive: Egyptian startup Convertedin raises $3M, caters to e-commerce brands in MENA and Latin America – TalkOfNews.com

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Egyptian startup Convertedin raises $3M, caters to e-commerce brands in MENA and Latin America

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Convertedin, an Egyptian startup that operates a marketing operating system for e-commerce brands, has raised $3 million in a seed round led by Saudi Arabia-headquartered Merak Capital.

Other participating investors include 500 Global and MSAS. The company, in a statement, said it plans to utilize the funds for strategic hiring and further development of its platform.

When brands shift to e-commerce sales, they operate with vast amounts of fragmented data that need to be unified to drive informed decisions and growth. As such, platforms like Convertedin become essential because it caters to brands and businesses with one, some, or all of these objectives: drive personalized and scalable campaigns, convert customers, achieve measurable results and grow revenue.

CEO Mohamed Fergany founded the company with Mohamed Atef and Mustafa Raslan in 2019 after working with several brands in companies such as Speakol Ads and Vodafone. His time as an employee opened his eyes to the opportunity of helping offline stores retarget and retain their customers online while finding new ones to shop at their stores offline.

“If you walk into IKEA and they take your phone number down. After that, our engine works to find a similar product you might buy and we retarget you online. If you went back to IKEA for that product, we can calculate the cost of online conversion,” the chief executive said in the interview. “This was the main idea at this time as we saw a huge problem where there was no analytics platform for the offline store or a retargeting mechanism.”

As the pandemic hit and offline stores were forced to close their doors, many of these brands turned to e-commerce, and as a result, Convertedin took its business online too.

Fergany argues that though online brands use CRM software to gather data, they do not utilize most of it. So Convertedin offers a solution where they can use their data best. It plugs into more than 10 major e-commerce platforms and ad networks — and brands, once connected, can place customers into different segments such as high- and low-value and categories like those looking for specific products and use these insights to create personalized multi-channel marketing and drive various campaigns on social media, SMS, email, search and other channels while having the ability to track and attribute revenue conversion.

Convertedin says SMB e-commerce marketers that use its platform increase their return on ad spend (ROAS) by 2x and reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC) by 40%. So far, the company partners with media buying and advertising agencies and works with over 100 local and multinational brands across Africa, the Middle East and South America in the automotive, healthcare and technology industries. Convertedin’s revenues from these businesses have been growing in “double-digits” month-over-month, Fergany said.

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The three-year-old Egypt-headquartered company also has offices in Saudi Arabia and Brazil; it just recently opened one in the latter. The South American market is enormous, with e-commerce revenues reaching $160 billion by 2025 from over 200 million users. As a result, Convertedin plans to make its services available in Portuguese — in addition to English and Arabic — for brands in Brazil and also Mexico, another South American market. Fergany also said Convertedin is eyeing South Africa and India too.

“We focus on emerging markets and if you look at it from healthy unit economics, we can sell easily in those countries because there is low competition there,” said the CEO on the expansion to five new markets, including Saudi Arabia. “And customer acquisition cost is low compared to the U.S. or Europe markets.” The new investment will help Convertedin with this expansion in addition to R&D and hiring.

In a statement, Ahmed Aljibreen, partner at lead investor Merak Capital, addressing his firm’s investment, said the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing platforms adds a new layer of challenges for e-commerce companies — and that Convertedin solves that. Hence, the reason why Merak Capital backed the firm. “We are excited to back Convertedin, a martech company that has built a state-of-the-art platform to simplify digital marketing, improve customer acquisition and drive growth for its clients. Convertedin is led by a world-class team in which we have tremendous confidence as the company embarks on its next stage of growth in MENA and Latin America.”

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Exclusive: Serena Williams announces her retirement from tennis – TalkOfNews.com

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Serena Williams announces her retirement from tennis

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Tennis legend Serena Williams announced her retirement in a Vogue article published Tuesday.

“I have never liked the word ‘retirement,’” Williams wrote. “Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is ‘evolution.’ I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”

Williams, who turns 41 next month, has 73 career singles titles, 23 career doubles titles and over $94 million in career winnings.

Williams is widely hailed as one of the greatest athletes of all time. In her Vogue piece, she noted that some of her detractors point out that she hasn’t won the most Grand Slam titles in women’s tennis history, however. 

“There are people who say I’m not the GOAT because I didn’t pass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the ‘open era’ that began in 1968,” Williams wrote. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record.”

She said she will retire after the U.S. Open, which will run from late August into September. A victory there would tie her with Court’s Grand Slam record.

“I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try,” Williams wrote about the tournament, which is played in Queens.

She has counted sponsorships from companies including Nike, Audemars Piguet, Away, Beats, Bumble, Gatorade, Gucci, Lincoln, Michelob, Nintendo, Wilson Sporting Goods, and Procter and Gamble.

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“I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” Williams wrote. “If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family.”

Williams focused on her family in the announcement, writing that her nearly five-year-old daughter wants to be an older sister. Williams is married to Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian.

“I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks,” Williams wrote in an Instagram post Tuesday.

Professionally, she looks to expand Serena Ventures, a small investment firm of six people that was one of the first investors in MasterClass. Her firm raised $111 million in outside financing this year.

Williams wrote that only 2% of venture capital goes to women and that “in order for us to change that, more people who look like me need to be in that position, giving money back to themselves.”

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