Business and technology always advance together, especially when it comes to progress in information technology. As industries are trying to solve problems beyond the limits of traditional machines, businesses have started turning towards quantum computation, which leverages similar physical properties as atoms to manipulate information. Quantum computers have the potential to spur the development of novel breakthroughs in science.
What is Quantum Computing?
We use computing every day, be it while using our phones, laptops, or machines. However, there are certain challenges that today’s computers and systems face, certain size issues, and complexities, that we will never be able to solve. This is simply because we don’t have enough computational power to tackle them.
Quantum computers leverage the quantum mechanical phenomena of superposition and entanglement to create states that scale exponentially with the number of qubits(quantum bits). (IBM)
All existing computing systems rely on the basic ability to store and manipulate information. Computers store and manipulate information stored as binary 0 and 1 states. While quantum computers leverage quantum mechanical phenomena to manipulate information in qubits.
Qubits are subatomic particles such as electrons or photons. Producing and managing qubits is a scientific and engineering challenge.
Quantum computing uses three quantum mechanical properties to manipulate the state of a qubit- superposition, entanglement, and interference.
Superposition refers to a combination of independent states.
It is something we observe in our everyday life. When playing two notes on a guitar; the sound heard is a superposition of the two notes. The key difference in quantum superposition happens when you perform a measurement. Even if the system is in a perfectly well-defined superposition state, certain measurements on these systems elicit random outcomes. This magic is observed as a special kind of quantum randomness.
Entanglement is an infamous counter-intuitive quantum phenomenon. It is an extremely strong correlation that exists between quantum particles — unusually strong that two or more quantum particles can be inextricably linked in perfect unity, even if separated by a large distance. The particles are so intrinsically connected, they can be said to be dancing in instantaneous, perfect unison, even when placed at opposite ends of the universe. (Institute for Quantum Computing)
This behavior cannot be explained with traditional logic systems. Their states are tied together in ways that can’t be recreated. Harnessing entanglement for computation is considered to be a vital component for speeding up quantum computation.
Quantum states experience interference due to a phenomenon known as a ‘phase’. Quantum interference is similar to wave interference- when two waves are in phase, their amplitudes add up, and when they are out of phase, their amplitudes cancel each other.
Just like traditional computing, a set of instructions that represent a problem-solving approach- i.e. an algorithm-, and a machine that can execute those instructions are needed. The fact that quantum systems exhibit superpositions, entanglement, and other quantum properties means we can write algorithms in a new way that isn’t possible with classical machines.
While a classic computer works with zeros and ones, a quantum computer has the advantage of using zeros, ones, and superpositions of zeros and ones. Several challenging tasks that have long been thought impossible or intractable for classic computers can be accomplished quickly and efficiently by a quantum computer.
Scaling Quantum Systems
Quantum systems use several quantum properties to compute. In addition to algorithms for near-term quantum computing systems, researchers have designed algorithms for future quantum systems, referred to as fault-tolerant quantum computers. These systems are expected to perform sequential quantum operations and run for long periods of time.
How is a fault-tolerant quantum system produced? To enhance the computational ability of a quantum computer, two-dimensional improvements need to be made. One is qubit count- the more qubits you have, the more states can be manipulated and stored. The other is low error rates, which are necessitated to manipulate qubit states accurately and perform sequential operations that provide answers.
Quantum volume is a metric that helps understand quantum capability with ease. It measures the relationship between the number and quality of qubits, circuit connectivity, and error rates of operations. Developing systems with larger quantum volume will lead to discovering the first instances of applications where quantum computers can offer a computational advantage for solving real problems.
Hope this article has piqued your interest in quantum computing! Comment below for more information and do research some more about it!