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Google claims quantum computing breakthrough

Google said on October 23 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.

How are quantum computers different from traditional computers?
Traditional computing relies on bits, or ones and zeros. On the other hand, quantum computing uses quantum bits, or qubits, that can be both one and zero at the same time.

This property, called superposition, multiplies exponentially as qubits become entangled with each other. The more qubits that can be strung together, the vastly more powerful a quantum computer becomes.

What are the challenges in functioning of Quantum computers?
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 the research team at Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, has made significant progress.

Processor used
Google developed a microprocessor, named Sycamore, that packs a total of 54 qubits. Measuring about 10 mm across, it is made using aluminium and indium parts sandwiched between two silicon wafers.

In their experiment, the researchers were able to get 53 of the qubits — connected to each other in a lattice pattern — to interact in a so-called quantum state.

They then set the quantum computer a complex task to detect patterns in a series of seemingly random numbers. It solved the problem in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. They estimated that the same problem would take 10,000 years for a Summit supercomputer – the most powerful in the world today — to solve.

Criticism
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 2-1/2 days, with greater fidelity — or accuracy.

They also said Google risked misleading the public by implying the new-style computers would replace existing ones.

Quantum computers will never reign ‘supreme’ over classical computers, but will rather work in concert with them, since each have their unique strengths.

Source: The Hindu

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