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Quantum computers are based on quantum physics theory. Information is encoded using special kinds of bits that can maintain more than two on-off states like traditional computers. Quantum encoding states are called qubits. A single quantum bit or qubit might have 50 or more different states.
Quantum computing offers the potential to process vast amounts of data much much faster than ordinary computers. We are in the very early days of quantum computing. Current quantum computers are like toys, are relatively unstable, and susceptible to environmental changes, like temperature.
The first goal to demonstrate the possible viability of quantum computing is called ‘quantum supremacy’. The idea is to design a problem that a quantum computer can easily and quickly solve but which would normally take standard computers many years to solve.
Fernando Brandão, a theoretical physicist at the CalTech, said that “before supremacy, there is simply zero chance that a quantum computer can do anything interesting. Supremacy is a necessary milestone.”
But Google says that they’ve done it.
A Google team of researchers announced success, saying that “while our processor takes about 200 seconds to sample one instance of the quantum circuit 1 million times, a state-of-the-art supercomputer would require approximately 10,000 years to perform the equivalent task.”
Jim Clarke, quantum hardware director at Intel, said that “Quantum Computing will take work. Do not be fooled by shiny tools or by pronouncements that this technology will arrive tomorrow. Every major change in the semiconductor community has happened on the decade timescale: from the transistor in 1947 to the integrated circuit in 1958 to the first microprocessor, the Intel 4004, in 1970. At the same time, do not be defeated by pronouncements of ‘never.'”