Era of quantum computers is here as Google attains 'quantum supremacy'

Google claims that its machine performed the target computation in 200 seconds, which it says would take the world's fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to do.

23rd Oct 2019
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In what can be termed as the achievement of the decade, Google has confirmed its 'quantum supremacy' breakthrough, trumping IBM Q.


The company has been working in the field of quantum computing for over a decade now. Its paper was published on Wednesday, revealing its recent findings in the scientific journal Nature.


Google used its own quantum computing chip 'Sycamore', consisting of 54 qubits, out of which one didn’t function at the time.


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Google CEO Sundar Pichai, with the company's Quantum Computer (Image: CNN)




In a blog post, Google researchers said,


“Our machine performed the target computation in 200 seconds, and from measurements in our experiment, we determined that it would take the world's fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to produce similar output.”


One of the researchers, Scott Aaronson described the achievement as Moon Landing achieved by Apollo in 1969. Whereas the Google Chief, Sundar Pichai, described the moment as “Big Breakthrough”.

So, what is quantum computing?

Conventional electronics work on only 0s and 1s (known as bits), the binary language.


In quantum computers, the rules are completely different. These rules belong to Physics, which governs the microscopic world and include electrons and photons, invisible to the naked eye.


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Google Quantum Computer

Additionally, unlike a conventional computer that stores data in bits, quantum computers will store data in the qubit (quantum bits). While bits can only store either 1 or 0, qubit can store a combination of both at the same time through a phenomenon called, superposition.


Superposition, which deals with microscopic particles qubits, helps a computer’s performance grow exponentially. In short, if you measure one qubit in a system of two qubits, you will know the value of second qubit measurement within seconds, and so on.

The future

According to CNN, Google will is looking forward to building “a fault-tolerant quantum computer” at the earliest. Once ready, this computer would help the firm look into applications like lightweight batteries for cars and airplanes.


In an official statement, the company said,


"Achieving the necessary computational capabilities will still require years of hard engineering and scientific work. But we see a path clearly now, and we're eager to move ahead.”


Its closest rival in quantum IMB is reportedly disputing Google's claims, saying that the latter "failed to fully account for plentiful disk storage," reports The Verge.



(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)




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