Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by Staff Writer
The definition of quantum computing
What exactly is quantum computing? Don’t worry, this is not a physics class and no Einstein’s theories are discussed here but actually a glimpse into a revolutionary computer system.
Quantum computing is a field in computing focused on developing computer technology that is based on the principles of quantum theory. This involves relationship between energy and material at atomic or subatomic levels.
Traditional computers use the binary system (0 or 1) to encode information so there is a limit because the system can only be one of the 2 states.
On the other end, quantum computing makes use of qubits or quantum bits. In this case, a qubit can be 0 or 1 at the same time (superimposition or entanglement). This allows exponentially larger amounts of data to be computed with much lesser energy consumption.
As noted in a Morgan Stanely report “While the classical computer is very good at calculus, the quantum computer is even better at sorting, finding prime numbers, simulating molecules, and optimization, and thus could open the door to a new computing era”
This is not a new field but it dates back to the 80s when it was discovered that some problems can be computed more effectively if quantum algorithms are used.
Fields in which quantum computing can be applied include:
- Aerospace designing
- Polymer design
- Artificial Intelligence
- Digital manufacturing
- Data search
Who is involved?
As expected, there is a fierce battle in getting an upper hand in this new technology. Quantum will revolutionize the way we compute and it’s not in the distant future.
Denise Ruffner, Vice President of business development at IonQ, said “When I started five years ago, everyone said quantum computing was five to 10 years away and every year after that I’ve heard the same thing. But four million quantum volume was not on the radar then and you can’t say it’s still 10 years away any more.”
These big companies are actively involved in quantum computing (list is not exhaustive):
- Lockheed Martin
Early developments of quantum machines
The power of a quantum computer is measured in quantum volumes. The statement given by Denise Ruffner was given after IonQ announced its next generation quantum computer system in October 2020.
This quantum computer has 32 qubits and a quantum volume of at least 4 million.
According to Microsoft, the basic language you need to be familiar with is Linea Algebra.
- Linear algebra is the language of quantum computing
Challenges of quantum systems
Currently, the challenge faced with quantum computers is that the qubits are unstable and cannot be kept long enough to complete calculations.
They are susceptible to noise and researchers have not yet mastered how to correct errors. As how Paul-Smith Goodson put it:
“The qubits can sense each other when they operate, and heat and radiation affect them, which causes errors”
If you compare with a standard laptop, you see what he means clearly. A laptop, on average, makes an error once every 1 trillion operations while a quantum computer makes an error once every 100 to 200 operations.
According to Paul-Smith Goodson, million of qubits are needed to have an advantage over conventional computers. However, with the current progress, we are now a few years from that transition.
As researchers battle to find ways to correct the errors, businesses should find more ways in which this technology can be applied.
Definitely, quantum will find its place in the field of cybersecurity. More robust VPN solutions can be created and it becomes even more difficult to hack into protected systems.
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Quantum computing is not going anywhere and we have to embrace it. In a few years companies that have taken the lead in its development will rake in big returns.
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