Today we’ll explore one of the latest innovations in technology: quantum computing.
In this post, we’re going to address the following questions:
- What is quantum computing?
- How do quantum computers work?
- What can quantum computers do?
- Why are people investing in quantum computers?
- And how long until we see their commercial use.
So if you’re looking to learn about quantum computing and expand your knowledge base, you’ll enjoy this article.
Let’s dive right in.
What is quantum computing?
Quantum computing is a new way of processing information by harnessing the laws of quantum mechanics.
In doing so, quantum machines promise to surpass the supercomputers of today, becoming the supercomputers of tomorrow
So what makes them different from typical computers?
Quantum computers vs. Classic computers
The difference between traditional computers and quantum computers is in the way they process information.
A classic computer uses “bits” of information. Long strings of bits encode information into ones and zeros. The machine can then use that to process the encoded data.
On the other hand, a quantum computer uses qubits (or quantum bits) to process information. A qubit allows a quantum system to encode data into two different states (ones and zeros), which behave quantumly.
That allows quantum computers to capitalize on the phenomena of superposition and entanglement.
What are superposition and entanglement in quantum computing?
Superposition and entanglement occur in the quantum realm at the quantum particle level (atoms, electrons, protons, and others).
Superposition is the ability of a quantum system to adopt multiple states at the same time. So, a zero can be a one, and a one can be a zero.
Entanglement, on the other hand, is a correlation between paired quantum particles. That enables them to exist in a quantum state regardless of the distance between them.
Simply put, let’s say that you have two qubits and that they form a pair. Changing the state of one qubit will instantly alter the state of the other qubit (even when separated by vast distances).
For example, if you have two strings of ones and zeroes like this 1010, changing it to this 0101 will change them both.
But why should these phenomena matter to you?
Why do quantum effects matter?
Quantum computing uses superposition and entanglement to process tremendous numbers of calculations at the same time. That enables quantum mechanical computers to use ones, zeros, and the superpositions of those ones and zeros.
These quantum effects make it possible to complete specific tasks that have previously been too great or complex for traditional computers.
The road to quantum computational supremacy may also lead to the evolution of universal quantum computers.
These systems may use quantum effects of superposition and entanglement to produce states that scale exponentially with the number of qubits they process.
What is the application of quantum computers?
While quantum computer services today are still in development, there are already practical applications of these systems.
For example, one promising application may be to simulate the behavior of matter. Giants in the car manufacturing industry – Volkswagen and Daimler are using quantum computers. Their scientists are creating models that imitate the behavior of particles in batteries of electric vehicles.
That is helping them find new ways of improving the performance of the batteries; to extend their power output beyond the current standards, for example.
Another application of quantum computing may be in cybersecurity services.
Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) will improve cryptographic protocols, like the one-time pad.
The problem with the one-time pad is the distribution of the random secret key. At the moment, it relies on exchange books. In the future, QKD will allow this distribution to happen at a distance.
QKD uses another property of quantum mechanics: any attempt to gauge or view a quantum system disturbs it.
So the two users who share the random encryption will receive the same code (sets of ones and zeroes).
But if an unauthorized person wants to access the same code, they’ll disturb the system, and the authorized users will be able to detect this because their secret codes won’t match.
Is quantum technology years away?
Quantum technology is already here. And it’s commercially available. For example, QKD is already in use at the Institute for Quantum Computing, where researchers use it to develop quantum encryption.
But when will quantum computers be available to you?
The practical use of quantum computers is relatively low, mainly because they lack the power to replace traditional computers.
Currently, only large-scale enterprises and research centers see the benefit of quantum computers. The technology is still pretty low on the Gartner hype cycle.
Still, the future of quantum computing looks bright. With new research and development emerging every day, 20 years from now, all of us may use quantum computers in our everyday lives.