Quantum computers — still a mirage?

23rd Oct’2019 marked a new era of computing — the milestone known as quantum supremacy!

This was the day when Google’s quantum computer, Sycamore performed a computation in just 200 seconds which the most powerful supercomputer IBM’s Summit could have taken 10,000 years!

While IBM challenged it, insisting that with some clever classical programming, its machine can solve the problem in 2.5 days…but still 3 min and 20 secs vs. 2.5 days is still no mean feat to achieve!

Where are we heading to…?

A closer look…

A quantum computer harnesses some of the almost-mystical phenomena of quantum mechanics to deliver huge leaps forward in processing power. It promises to surpass even the most capable supercomputers.

The classical computers of today are based on Von Neumann Architecture, designed to carry out logical operations using the precise physical position. These are usually binary bits, a stream of electrical or optical pulses representing one of the two positions i.e., 1 or 0, on or off, up or down.

Quantum computers, on the other hand, use qubits, which are typically subatomic particles such as electrons or photons. They perform calculations based on the probability of an object’s state before it is measured — instead of just 1s or 0s. The particle-wave dualitynature of a subatomic particles is the name of the game in quantum computing.

Therefore, instead of having a clear position, unmeasured quantum states occur in a mixed superposition, like a dice spinning in the air before it lands. So, during the calculation process, many different calculations are being performed at the same time!

And exploiting this fact of multiple computations running simultaneously makes the quantum computer so powerful!

Having said so, the issue of decoherence and near to absolute zero temperature (-273 degree Celsius) are some of the big hurdles to overcome to.

Summing up…

There are two sets of takers on quantum computing — with views miles apart!

One set of takers sees the quantum wave to be unstoppable and becoming a reality. There are others who are not convinced worth the effort and believe that there are obstacles which are practically impossible to overcome.

Time will tell who is right.

Is it a mirage…?

The jury is out….

Managing Director & ExecCom Member, Author, Speed Rope Enthusiast