Quantum computing will revolutionize the tech industry, AI, cryptography and Networking. Quantum computing is based on the principles of quantum mechanics, which allow for the existence of qubits or quantum bits.
On Intel’s Website Jim Clarke describes a qubit, a bit in a state of superposition, as a spinning coin, neither in a state of heads nor tails, but both at the same time. He goes on to describe quantum entanglement and having an n number of coins all spinning to make up 2^300 stating that just that many is more than all the atoms in the universe. He also has a beautiful description of the quantum hardware as a steampunk chandelier, which is fitting.
There are several different methodologies for creating a qubit, but Jim Clarke a senior research scientist at Intel is most excited about a design that uses transistors, because of our already advanced knowledge in transistor technology and the amount that we produce every year. This uses a silicon quantum dot, a single electron in a silicon device creating a spin qubit. These exist for approximately a millisecond and work like a transistor, but are a million times smaller.
Quantum supremacy refers to the time when quantum computing can perform certain functions faster than the most powerful classical computers. It is a term coined by theoretical physicist John Preskill in 2012. In 2019 Google claimed quantum supremacy by solving computations that would have taken 10000 years for a classical computer, but was accomplished in just 200 seconds. IBM, however, claims that with an improved classical algorithm it would only take two and a half days. This is still impressive even if IBM is correct.
Quantum computing is not faster than classical computers in all functions, but those functions in which it excels it is exponentially faster. Various algorithms such as Shor’s algorithm for factoring and Grover’s algorithm for search as well as simulation of quantum systems.
Shor’s algorithm can perform factors of large numbers exponentially faster than even the best classical algorithms. Factoring a large number with thousands of digits would take a classical algorithm too long for us to get results, where Shor’s algorithm could factor it in an approachable amount of time. Shor’s algorithm is a quantum algorithm developed by Peter Shor in 1994 and allows for quantum computers to factor large numbers at a rate that would make classical computers obsolete for this task. That being said, the reality is we would need to mix both technologies to create the most optimal device that is great for solving many problems.
Grover’s algorithm, developed by Lov Grover in 96 is a quadratic speedup when performing unstructured search reducing the number of queries needed to find the desired item.
Classical computers struggle simulating quantum models due to the complexity, but quantum computing is able to parse this task. This would be a task like examining molecules, materials or quantum particles and their complex behaviors that are governed by the laws of quantum mechanics.
Quantum Neural networks and Artificial intelligence
Quantum computing has the potential to speed up machine learning algorithms significantly while overcoming optimization problems training large neural networks. Using Quantum Approximate Optimization Algorithm can improve optimization processes. This is because it is capable of exploring a broader set of possibilities simultaneously. This would be effective for resources allocation, logistics and complex scheduling, in artificial intelligence.
Machine learning techniques can be adopted by quantum computing to speed up learning algorithms. This can be accomplished by leveraging the capability of quantum computers to perform calculations that extract insights from quantum data. Pairing this with the accelerated data analysis and pattern recognition using quantum algorithms and these advancements could potentially lead to quantum neural networks.
Implementation is easier said than done because quantum computing is highly susceptible to interference through noise and coherence. Or interference and the breakdown of the state of the quantum spin qubit which changes the predictability of the quantum particle. That is why robust error correction technology is being developed to protect against quantum decoherence and interference that could result in loss of the necessary data to compute properly. Shielding and very cold temperatures are methods they are using to try to mitigate some of these problems.
One of the greatest everyday uses for quantum computing will be networking. Quantum networking is communication and transmission of quantum information over large distances. Using concepts like quantum teleportation, through entanglement to send information from one device to another, by transferring its quantum state. The vision of this technology is the quantum internet. This reduction in latency could allow for very long distance very low or no latency communications using quantum relays to potentially send information millions of miles without waiting. The normative use that everybody would benefit from would be satellite communication. It can also be used to transmit secure communications that are encrypted in a way that they cannot be intercepted.
The Future of Quantum Computing
The idea of quantum computing being mainstream and sitting in our office to accomplish tasks like networking may be in the foreseeable future, but it’s too hard to determine whether that possibility will come to fruition because quantum technologies are still in their infancy.
With that noted, it doesn’t mean we won’t see large tech companies and governments using this technology to do the various sophisticated tasks that we talked about today. They are already using them for experimentation and as they learn to stabilize their systems we will see some of the technology implemented in specific use cases. The military and Nasa could both benefit when it comes to quantum communications and cracking complex encryption. We will also see quantum computing become prevalent in medical technology as it can calculate protein folding much faster than a traditional computer.
Let me know your thoughts on quantum computing and if you think we will see this technology in our homes and offices in our lifetimes or if you think it’s not feasible to scale like that and will only be available to large corporations and governments. Right now I am leaning to the latter, but we will see what developments are made in the next few years and my thoughts on that could change.