IBM quickly took issue with Google’s claim that it had achieved “quantum supremacy” , a term that refers to a point when a quantum computer can perform a calculation that a traditional computer can’t complete within its lifetime. Quantum bits, or qubits, can in theory process information exponentially faster than the binary one-zero bits used in classical computing. Powerful quantum computers could predict the outcomes of chemical reactions, search huge databases or factor large numbers, such as those used in encryption. Germany announced a € 650-million national quantum initiative in August 2019.
The race is on to create quantum computers that outperform classical machines in specific tasks. Quantum computers will never reign’ supreme’ over classical computers, but will rather work in concert with them, since each has their unique strengths”, Dario Gil, director of research at IBM, wrote in a blog. Google said on Wednesday it had achieved a breakthrough in computer research, by solving a complex problem in minutes with a so-called quantum computer that would take today’s most powerful supercomputer thousands of years to crack. The agency is collaborating with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to advance quantum information science. Even North Korea has stated that they intend to develop quantum computers. The technique relies on quantum bits, or qubits, which can register data values of zero and one the language of modern computing simultaneously. That makes them good tools for understanding what’s happening in the realms of chemistry, material science or particle physics. One feared outcome – though experts said it is a long way off – is a computer powerful enough to break today’s best cryptography. The Trump administration followed suit this year with its own National Quantum Initiative, promising to spend $ 1.2 billion on quantum research, including computers.
An attacker can record our secure communication today and break it with a quantum computer years later. Now we have seen the development of new protocols with so-called’ post quantum cryptography. ‘ Researchers at Alphabet Inc.’s Google say their latest quantum-computing experiment helps usher in a new era of next-generation computers. The company also believes the random numbers it generates could have practical uses. A regular computer stores data in on and off states, represented in binary “bits” as zeroes and ones. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and adviser, on Wednesday called Google’s breakthrough a “remarkable scientific achievement” that will help usher in future U. S. industries. It’s really good news for the field that if we make more complicated systems, everything should work”, said John Martinis, Google’s chief scientist of quantum hardware. Quantum computing has the potential to optimize new drug therapies, models for climate change and designs for new machines. President Donald Trump last year signed into law a congressional proposal to spend $ 1.2 billion over five years for quantum research across the federal government.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai stands with a quantum computer a Google laboratory in Santa Barbara, California. The breakthrough was described in a paper published in science journal Nature. But there’s a catch : Quantum researchers need to cool the qubits to close to absolute zero to limit vibration – or “noise” – that causes errors to creep into their calculations. It`s in this extremely challenging task that Google`s research team has made significant progress. CEO Sundar Pichai compared the achievement to building the first rocket to leave Earth’s atmosphere and touch the edge of space, an advance that brought interplanetary travel into the realm of the possible.
Sycamore, measuring about 10 mm across, is made using aluminium and indium parts sandwiched between two silicon wafers. In their experiment this year, the researchers were able to get 53 of Sycamore’s qubits to interact in a quantum state. They then set the quantum computer a complex task to detect patterns in a series of seemingly random numbers. While the peer-reviewed research has drawn plaudits, with MIT’s William D. Oliver comparing it to the Wright brothers’ first flights, skeptics say Google is over-selling its achievement. Researchers at IBM, Google’s main quantum computing rival, said a supercomputer with additional disk storage can solve the random number problem in at most 2-1 days, with greater fidelity – or accuracy. It also said Google risked misleading the public by implying the new-style computers would replace existing ones.
Torsten Siebert, manager of the quantum computing research programme at Germany’s Fraunhofer Society, said Google had achieved impressive fidelity in its experiment involving a large number of qubits. Google said that an experimental quantum processor had completed a calculation in just a few minutes, something that would otherwise take any traditional supercomputer thousands of years. In recent years, many of the tech industry’s biggest names, including Microsoft, Intel, IBM and Alibaba, have been vying for dominance in quantum computing. In a blog post, IBM disputed Google’s assertion that its quantum calculation could not be performed by a traditional computer.
The calculation, IBM argued, could theoretically be run on a current computer in less than two and a half days – not 10,000 years. Google dismissed IBM’s claims, asserting in a statement Wednesday that it performed its tests on an “actual supercomputer” and is now on a “totally different trajectory” from classical computers. It relies on the mind-bending ways some objects act at the subatomic level or when exposed to extreme cold, like the metal chilled to nearly 460 degrees below zero inside Google’s machine. By harnessing that odd behavior, scientists can instead build a quantum bit, or qubit, which stores a combination of 1 and 0. A quantum machine could one day drive big advances in areas like artificial intelligence and make even the most powerful supercomputers look like toys. Quantum science and technology could have far-reaching impact in science, technology, communications, and computing”, Barnes said.
Theoretical chemists hope to use quantum processors to solve complex problems involving strongly correlated molecules, such as those relevant for laboratory tests and photosynthesis. The findings, published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, show that “quantum speedup is achievable in a real-world system and is not precluded by any hidden physical laws” , the researchers wrote.
Quantum computing is a nascent and somewhat bewildering technology for vastly sped-up information processing. Quantum computers might one day revolutionize tasks that would take existing computers years, including the hunt for new drugs and optimizing city and transportation planning. Big tech companies including Google, Microsoft, IBM and Intel are avidly pursuing the technology. The more interesting milestone will be a useful application”, said Chris Monroe, a University of Maryland physicist who is also the founder of quantum startup IonQ. Google’s findings, however, faced pushback from other industry researchers. Google’s paper shows that its quantum processor, Sycamore, finished a calculation in three minutes and 20 seconds – and that it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to do the same thing.
The results were then compared with simulations performed on classical supercomputers, including the huge Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The quantum supremacy milestone allegedly achieved by Google is a pivotal step in the quest for practical quantum computers ” , John Preskill, a Caltech professor who originally coined the ” quantum supremacy ” term, wrote in a column after the paper was leaked. It means quantum computing research can enter a new stage, he wrote, though a significant effect on society ” may still be decades away ” . The calculation employed by Google has little practical use, Preskill wrote, other than to test how well the processor works.
The promise of such future applications in commerce and national security has attracted interest from governments including the United States and China that are increasingly investing in the expensive basic research needed to make quantum computers useful. Google’s research was centred at a University of California, Santa Barbara laboratory but relied in part on a Department of Energy supercomputer and experts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to verify the work.
The technology will one day help us to solve problems that are unsolvable today with classical computer systems. Quantum computing is so much faster than traditional computing because of the unusual properties of particles at the smallest level. Called quantum advantage, it would see a quantum computer outperform normal computers on a truly useful task.
The danger comes from an ultrapowerful and still-experimental technology called quantum computing – which leverages the quantum properties of atoms to quickly compute problems that no conventional computer could crack. Rather than circuits and processors, the new technology uses complex physics to cram large amounts of information into a single subatomic particle. To completely mathematically describe a caffeine molecule, for example, would require a conventional supercomputer so big that it would occupy 1 the volume of the Earth, says Arvind Krishna, IBM’s senior vice president of cloud and cognitive software.
IBM opens a new Quantum Computation Center. This experiment would have great theoretical research value in quantum science, as well as building a large-scale quantum internet and computation networks. The United States and Japan also have plans for quantum communication. My analysis shows that noisy quantum computers with a few dozen qubits deliver such primitive computational power that it will simply not be possible to use them as the building blocks we need to build quantum computers on a wider scale”, he says. Such computers make use of quantum-mechanical properties and can therefore solve some particular problems much faster than our current computers. This will be useful for calculating models for weather forecasts or developing new medicine. PQCRYPTO started in 2015 with 3.9 million euro funding from the European Commission to develop new cryptographic techniques.
“What’s more, these innovations are provoking unexpected progress in conventional computing. In the longer run, we ‘ll need “quantum-safe” cryptography tools, he said, including protocols that can run on conventional technologies and resist quantum attacks”.
IBM says they could use 250 petabytes of memory and the best supercomputer to match a 53-qubit Google quantum computer on a particular problem. We are comparing ~5 billion quantum gates against 200 million trillion FLOPs.
The prototype design, 10 years in the making, could offer a more promising approach forward than existing small-scale projects. In this work, for the first time in any system, we have made a large-scale cluster state whose structure enables universal quantum computation.
Google, among others, is working on a new form of security for its browser that might rebuff a quantum algorithm. The outside world is continually interacting with our quantum hardware, “damaging the information we are trying to process”, says physicist John Preskill at the California Institute of Technology, who in 2012 coined the term quantum supremacy.
One potential way to address the issue is to run error-correction routines. Even so, no one expects VQF to beat a classical machine in that time frame. No experiments have been done on real hardware yet, and there is no way to definitively, mathematically prove superiority.
A quantum system can lose its correlations, and thus its computing power, in fractions of a second. But in July last year, computer scientist Ewin Tang, then an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, formulated a classical algorithm that worked even faster. Now, a team of Russian and American researchers at Harvard have created the world’s first 51 qubit quantum computer. On the other hand, Lukin’s team has used an exotic “cold atom” technology, which needs to keep a set of atoms inside special laser cells and cooling them at very low temperature.
At its fullest capability, quantum computing could advance the way we solve critical issues and plan for future generations. A quantum device might also help scientists understand the evolution of the early universe, the first few minutes after the Big Bang. Set up to exchange ideas and discuss potential collaborations, the event had CERN’s spacious auditorium packed to the brim with researchers from Google, IBM, Intel, D-Wave, Rigetti, and Microsoft.
D-Wave focuses on a technology called quantum annealing, based on the natural tendency of real-world quantum systems to find low-energy states ( a bit like a spinning top that inevitably will fall over ).
Image Credit: Christian Lademann/Alamy