The world’s fastest computers

Every six months or so a list of the world’s fastest computers is published in the “Top 500” list.

Except it is not. For surely the world’s fastest computers are in the hands of the NSA, GCHQ and whatever the French and Chinese equivalents are (I think we can probably discount the Russians for now)? At least I hope so – us taxpayers ought to be getting something in return for the money we are ploughing into these bodies.

The “revelation” that the NSA are seeking to build a quantum computer is most remarkable for the fact it suggests that have not already got one. Just as the problems the British authorities had, back in 2011, with rioters co-ordinating their actions through encrypted messages told us nobody at GCHQ had proved P=NP, what is most interesting about these stories is what is missing, not what is in there.

(Of course, there is another explanation on the riots: GCHQ have proved P=NP and are even now using this fact and the algorithm they have developed using it to crack everybody else’s codes and fundamentally a few wrecked city centres are less important than that. But I doubt this very much.)