“This is the beginning of the quantum age of computing and the latest advancement is towards building a universal quantum computer.
“A universal quantum computer, once built, will represent one of the greatest milestones in the history of information technology and has the potential to solve certain problems we couldn’t solve, and will never be able to solve, with today’s classical computers.”
quantum computing is likely to have the biggest impact on industries that are data-rich and time-sensitive. Machine Learning is the main application for quantum computing.
a quantum computer has quantum bits or qubits, which work in a particularly intriguing way. Where a bit can store either a zero or a 1, a qubit can store a zero, a one, both zero and one, or an infinite number of values in between—and be in multiple states (store multiple values) at the same time! If that sounds confusing, think back to light being a particle and a wave at the same time, Schrödinger’s cat being alive and dead, or a car being a bicycle and a bus.
A quantum computer exponentially expands the vocabulary of binary code words by using two spooky principles of quantum physics, namely ‘entanglement’ and ‘superposition’. Qubits can store a 0, a 1, or an arbitrary combination of 0 and 1 at the same time. Multiple qubits can be made in superposition states that have strictly no classical analogue, but constitute legitimate digital code in a quantum computer.
In a quantum computer, each quantum bit of information–or qubit–can therefore be unfixed, a mere probability; this in turn means that in some mysterious way, a qubit can have the value of one or zero simultaneously, a phenomenon called superposition.
And just as a quantum computer can store multiple values at once, so it can process them simultaneously. Instead of working in series, it can work in parallel, doing multiple operations at once.
In theory, a quantum computer could solve in less than a minute problems that it would take a classical computer millennia to solve.
To date, most quantum computers have been more or less successful science experiments. None have harnessed more than 12 qubits, and the problems the machines have solved have been trivial. Quantum computers have been complicated, finicky machines, employing delicate lasers, vacuum pumps, and other exotic machinery to shepherd their qubits.
The world’s fastest supercomputer, China’s Sunway TaihuLight, runs at 93 petaflops (93 quadrillion flops, or around 1017) – but it relies on 10 million processing cores and uses massive amounts of energy.
In comparison, even a small 30-qubit universal quantum computer could, theoretically, run at the equivalent of a classical computer operating at 10 teraflops (10 trillion flops, or 1012
A QUANTUM COMPUTER IS “NOT JUST A ‘FASTER’ COMPUTER, BUT THEY ARE THE EQUIVALENT OF A JET PLANE TO A BICYCLE.”
IBM says “With a quantum computer built of just 50 qubits, none of today’s TOP500 supercomputers could successfully emulate it, reflecting the tremendous potential of this technology,” .
A screenshot of IBM’s the author attempting to quantum compute. (courtesy : Silicon)
QUANTUM COMPUTING TIMELINE
The significant advance, by a team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney appears today in the international journal Nature.
“What we have is a game changer,” said team leader Andrew Dzurak, Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UNSW.
“We’ve demonstrated a two-qubit logic gate – the central building block of a quantum computer – and, significantly, done it in silicon. Because we use essentially the same device technology as existing computer chips, we believe it will be much easier to manufacture a full-scale processor chip than for any of the leading designs, which rely on more exotic technologies.
“This makes the building of a quantum computer much more feasible, since it is based on the same manufacturing technology as today’s computer industry,” he added.
The benefits of quantum computing
quantum computers could be used for discovering new drugs, securing the internet, modeling the economy, or potentially even building far more powerful artificial intelligence systems—all sorts of exceedingly complicated tasks.
A functional quantum computer will provide much faster computation in a number of key areas, including: searching large databases, solving complicated sets of equations, and modelling atomic systems such as biological molecules and drugs. This means they’ll be enormously useful for finance and healthcare industries, and for government, security and defence organisations.
For example, they could be used to identify and develop new medicines by greatly accelerating the computer-aided design of pharmaceutical compounds (and minimizing lengthy trial and error testing); develop new, lighter and stronger materials spanning consumer electronics to aircraft; and achieve much faster information searching through large databases.
Functional quantum computers will also open the door for new types of computational applications and solutions that are probably too premature to even conceive.
The fusion of quantum computing and machine learning has become a booming research area. Can it possibly live up to its high expectations?
“These advantages that you end up seeing, they’re modest; they’re not exponential, but they are quadratic,” said Nathan Wiebe, a quantum-computing researcher at Microsoft Research. “Given a big enough and fast enough quantum computer, we could revolutionize many areas of machine learning.” And in the course of using the systems, computer scientists might solve the theoretical puzzle of whether they are inherently faster, and for what.
A recent Fortune essay states, “Companies like Microsoft, Google and IBM are making rapid breakthroughs that could make quantum computing viable in less than 10 years.”
Very soon you will find hardware and software with fundamentally new integrated circuits that store and process quantum information. Many important computational problems will only be solved by building quantum computers. Quantum computing has been picking up the momentum, and there are many startups and scholars discussing quantum machine learning. A basic knowledge of quantum two-level computation ought to be acquired.
I am sure that Quantum Information and Quantum Computation will play a crucial role in defining where the course of our technology is headed.
“For quantum computing to take traction and blossom, we must enable the world to use and to learn it,” said Gambetta. “This period is for the world of scientists and industry to focus on getting quantum-ready.”