Re: Time to solve one of those "10^77 years" IT Security Cracking problems
>Past time for DARPA to set the rules for a formal competition.
No, no it isn't.
Breaking conventional cryptography requires a class of quantum computer that Shor's algorithm - which D-Wave has never claimed to be capable of.
Quantum computers than can run Shor's algorithm have been built in the lab, but only up to a few qubits - far too small to be of any use in factorising large numbers (and thus breaking encryption as we now use it). In the event of researchers making significant progress in this area, DARPA or the NSA would not have to hold a competition - they'll already have been paying for the lab. In any case, it would be trivial for even an amateur mathematician to quickly determined if it worked or not.
The D-Wave is a different beast. The smoke and mirrors to which you refer are due to the difficulties in finding fair tests. Still, there's enough uncertainty for Google to take a punt on it, as they should if there is even a small chance it can be made to work for them, finding low points in fitness landscapes.