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Still very much in the development stage, the quantum computer has the ability to significantly outperform conventional computers. They require state-of-the-art technology and cutting-edge quantum theory and are advantageous as they optimize time and computing capabilities. The key to our computing future is expected to lie in the application of quantum theory to -various areas of computer science.
Quantum computers will not only open up a higher processing speed, but also applications we never thought of before.
Ray Laflamme, Executive Director, Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo, Canada
What is Quantum Computing?
A conventional computer uses the ‘long bit’, a basic unit of information that contains a single binary value of ‘0’ or ‘1’. In contrast quantum computers use qubits, which can hold either value, or both values at the same time. This is due to the quantum physics phenomenon know as ‘superposition’. Superposition occurs when two or more quantum states of a subatomic particle, such as the spin states of ‘spin-up’ and ‘spin-down’, are held at the same time. For the purposes of quantum computing, superposition can be interpreted as a qubit being both a ‘0’ and a ‘1’.
The use of subatomic particles that can exist in multiple states allows for computing to be done much faster, using less energy than conventional computers. For instance, NASA scientists created a quantum computer in 2016 that was a 100 million times faster than a conventional computer.
If Google and the team at the University of California Santa Barbara are on track in creating a 50-qubit chip, the quantum supremacy could be just months away.
“The computational power of a quantum computer grows exponentially with the number of quantum bits manipulated”, says Alexey Kavokin of the Russian Quantum Centre (RQC).
Benefits of Quantum Computing
The performance benefits of this type of computing power come from its ability to analyze quickly and test extremely large datasets. Below are some examples of how quantum computing will impact our world.
Currently, most online security methods rely on the fact that it takes a lot of time to “crack the code” through computer processing of huge numbers. Quantum computers are expected to produce fundamentally unbreakable codes and increase data encryption.
Quantum computing will likely enable chemists to test millions of molecular combinations when developing new drugs, determining which ones are most likely to succeed in clinical trials. In addition, quantum computing could dramatically reduce costs and time taken to get them on the market, repurpose pre-approved drugs for new applications more easily, and empower computational chemists to make innovations that could lead to treatments for several diseases faster.
Any weather predicting is done by analyzing large and complex data sets. Traditional weather simulation is limited by inputs that can be managed with conventional computers. If you add too many factors, the simulation takes longer than it does for the actual weather to evolve. Quantum computing has the capacity to process massive volumes of data needed to make more accurate predictions and take into account possible changes.
Both air traffic and road travel would benefit from quantum computing’s ability to analyze the control of traffic flow. They will be able to quickly calculate the optimal routes, which will enable efficient schedule planning and reduce traffic congestion.