The first time I read about quantum computing was a few years ago, but back at that time, the concept was deemed to be very theoretical that wasn’t ready to deliver commercially viable solutions.
However, recent discoveries made by Griffith University and the University of Queensland last year around Fredkin gate, encouraged experts (and technology vendors) to accelerate the race to launch commercially viable products, leveraging the power of quantum computing.
For those, who are hearing about this concept the first time, the simplest explanation of quantum computing I have come across with sounds like the following:
‘there isn’t one’
… therefore, I found, for layman people such as myself, it is easier to understand the key characteristics…
Quantum computing mixes computer science with quantum physics, where engineers are using quantum properties to process data.
In simple terms, in traditional computer science, engineers are programming with ‘bits’ where a bit can either be a ‘1’ or a ‘0’.
The magic behind ‘quantum bits’ (qubits) is, that similar to basic quantum physic theories, a qubit can be simultaneously 1 and 0. This means that two qubits could potentially have four values at the same time: 00, 01, 10, and 11.
Moore’s law stood true for decades, claiming that the number of transistors stuck on integrated circuits had doubled every year since its invention, delivering increasingly powerful computers. However, this trend stopped being true in the last few years. CPU performance in the last few years hasn’t improved despite the increased density of transistors on circuits.
By tapping into the ‘chameleon-esque’ behavior of qubits (it can simultaneously be a ‘1 and a ‘0’), quantum computing will deliver exponential boosts in processing power, something that traditional hardware evolution cannot provide
Why is this all very relevant today?
It is certainly not by mistake that companies like Google, NASA, Microsoft are heavily investing in resources to identify how quantum computing can be commercially leveraged in a scalable and cost effective way. (A number of factors have made quantum computing a difficult concept to take commercial advantage of. One being that, qubits can operate only in very ‘undisturbed’ environments. Microsoft is currently experimenting with ‘topological qubits’ that are more resistant to changing conditions, in the hope to deliver more practical solutions.)
With increasingly ubiquitous AI powered applications, the pressure on computers to process large amount of data in a speedy manner has become a challenge.
The initial tests with D-Waves Quantum Computer (DWave 2X) run by Nasa and Google, results are delivered in a matter of seconds instead of years that would be needed by traditional computers. These results are deemed very encouraging by everybody that are seeking to resolve some very complex challenges in Medical or Agriculture research.