What is quantum computing?
Quantum computing studies theoretical computation systems that make direct use of quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform operations on data faster than regular computers.
Difference from a regular computer
- In normal computers, bits are the smallest units of information and are valued as either 0 or 1.
- In quantum computers, 'q-bits' are the units of information and can simultaneously exist in any proportions of both 0 and 1, a phenomenon called superposition.
- A regular computer performs calculations sequentially but a quantum computer performs multiple calculations simultaneously, making it exponentially faster at complex calculations.
Quantum computing: History
- On 1 March 1981, Richard Feynman proposed the idea of using quantum phenomena to perform computations.
- In a speech at the First Conference on the Physics of Computation at MIT, he suggested a simple model for a quantum computer.
- In coming years, research intensified and in 1998, the first working 3-qubit NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) quantum computer was built by MIT and Waterloo University.
Highlights in quantum computing technology
- In March 1994, Peter Shor invented an algorithm allowing quantum computers to calculate large amounts of data relatively quickly.
- In 2001, IBM executed Shor's algorithm on a 7-qubit quantum computer by calculating the factors of 15.
- In 2009, a team at Yale created the first solid state quantum processor.
- In 2011, D-Wave systems announced the first 128-qbit quantum computer, later purchased by Lockheed Martin.
Benefits of quantum computing
- Quantum computers vastly reduce the time taken to perform calculations.
- Quantum computing can also be used to provide highly secure encryption systems for data security.
- These computers would also enhance efforts to create a complex artificial intelligence system as the complexity of quantum physics allows for data processing capabilities that can mimic the complexity of the human brain.
Challenges faced in quantum computing
- Q-bits are very difficult to control and manipulate, as any disturbance in their surroundings cause them to lose their quantum state, rendering them useless.
- Quantum computing research is extremely expensive and it takes a long time for these experiments to produce tangible results.
- Parts for quantum computing are built on a microscopic scale, making manufacturing a highly complex and cumbersome task.
IBM to make quantum technology for US intelligence
8 Dec 2015
- IBM got a multi-year grant from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to build key components of what it calls a universal quantum computer.
- The grant will authorize IBM to build super-fast quantum computers for US intelligence agencies in an effort to improve artificial intelligence technology.
- IBM will work on the Cryogenic Computer Complexity (C3) program with IARPA, Raytheon-BBN and Northop Grumman.
Google, NASA display quantum computing tech
9 Dec 2015
- Google and NASA made a public debut of their new quantum supercomputing system that will revolutionize the computing industry.
- They are working with the Universities Space Research Association at NASA's Ames Research Center in California.
- The goal of the project is to develop faster, multifaceted computing systems.
- Researchers said the system was still experimental and is far from being commercially applicable.
PC: 'Computing at Griffith College' by Griffith College. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
PC: 'Nanoscience High-Performance Computing Facility' by Matt Howard. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
PC: 'NASA logo' by National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
PC: 'IBM Blue Gene P supercomputer' by Argonne National Laboratory's Flickr page. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons