Google scientists say theyve reached quantum supremacy demonstrating that quantum com… – Business Insider
Google scientists said they made a major breakthrough in superfast computing after running an experiment to demonstrate just how much faster quantum computers would be than today’s computers.
Quantum computing is complicated, but it’s based on the idea that computers can incorporate aspects of quantum theory. In theory, computational tasks could be carried out exponentially faster by quantum computers than by traditional computers. This is known as “quantum supremacy.”
Google’s scientists said a 54-qubit (quantum bit) processor named Sycamore performed a target computation in 200 seconds, while the world’s fastest supercomputer would take 10,000 years to produce a similar output.
IBM, which is also working on quantum-computing research, cast doubt on Google’s findings, saying that quantum supremacy “has not been met.”
Google scientists said they made a breakthrough in one of the most cutting-edge areas of computing, publishing a paper that demonstrates how much faster quantum computers could be than today’s computers.
In the paper, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, the scientists said an experimental quantum processor they developed took seconds to carry out a computation that would take the world’s fastest supercomputer thousands of years. This is known as “quantum supremacy,” and it would mark a major breakthrough in the experimental field.
Quantum computing is complex and very much at the research stage. It involves computing technology based on the principles of quantum theory.
Instead of bits, which today’s computers use to process information, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits. Where classical computers are constrained by how fast they can switch between outputting zeros and ones, quantum computers would face no such constraints, because qubits theoretically can exist in both states simultaneously.
The upshot is that quantum computers would be able to carry out particular tasks exponentially faster — millions of times as fast as a standard computer. Google said this is what it demonstrated.
John Martinis and Sergio Boixo, two senior scientists at Google AI Quantum, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that they were motivated to run the experiment to find out whether quantum computing would “ever do something useful” and was “worth investing in.”
“For such large-scale endeavors it is good engineering practice to formulate decisive short-term goals that demonstrate whether the designs are going in the right direction,” they wrote. “So, we devised an experiment as an important milestone to help answer these questions.”
The scientists’ experiment involved building a 54-qubit processor, named Sycamore, made up of “fast, high-fidelity quantum logic gates.”
They then tested Sycamore’s computing ability and how long it would take to perform one target calculation. Setting the bar for success high, the scientists agreed on “a sensitive computational benchmark that fails if just a single component of the computer is not good enough,” Martinis and Boixo said.
The scientists said Sycamore performed the target calculation in 200 seconds, while it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to produce a similar output.
Peter Knight, a senior physicist at Imperial College London, described Google’s claims as “compelling.”
As quantum computing remains very much in its infancy, it’s difficult to imagine how it might affect society, though no one disputes its potential to affect just about everything. Knight briefly touched on one area: data security. He said that while any threat posed by quantum computing to processes such as encryption was distant, it was still there.