Quantum Computing

For this blog post I will write about some of the research I’ve been doing into the field of quantum computing. Quantum computing is a rapidly developing field that is still very much in its infancy. Proponents of quantum computing acknowledge that as of now there are no real world examples where quantum computers outperform classical machines. However, the gains in computing power possible in a quantum machine is driving a lot of investment in the space and technology has advanced rapidly.

Quantum computers increase in power exponentially as more qubits are added, traditional machines increase linearly. Currently IBM’s largest quantum computer contains 127 qubits and this number has been growing every year. The industry needs many research breakthroughs before it is possible to make a machine with 1000s of qubits.

The qubits communication is very fragile and the computers need supercooling and vacuum chambers. Currently there is a lot of errors during calculations and error correction is either very basic or not possible at this point. There are many hardware improvements needed before quantum computing becomes a reality. However, it is very likely these hardware improvements will continue and quantum computing becomes a part of our future world.

If quantum computers become useful the initial computers will still be so extremely expensive and complex to maintain there will only be a few of them. Cloud providers are currently investing in quantum computing solutions for their customers. The software needed to interface between an API and the physical hardware of a quantum computing will be necessary to bring this technology to masses of people.

A technology I researched for this blog post is AWS Braket. They describe themselves as a fully managed quantum computing service designed to help speed up research and software development for quantum computing. It is still in its very early stages and seems to be mostly about simulating quantum circuits and research.

Each year of incremental progress and every breakthrough will get the world that much closer to a useful quantum machine. This will spur more interest and investment that is likely to increase the speed of progress and breakthroughs. There are promising use cases for quantum computing in the world of logistics and finance with potentially enormous amount of capital gains for enterprises that can leverage the technology.

Another field that quantum computing could disrupt is that of information security. Cryptography relies on the fact that classical machines will take prohibitively long to crack them. However, with quantum computing power, what took 1000s of years can now take minutes. This poses a national security risk and that is why governments are likely to be very early adopters of this technology much like they were for computers and the internet.

The physics of how these machines are actually working is (at least currently) beyond my understanding. It seems magical and impossible to harness these subatomic particles in a way to have them compute something useful. But at this point the possibility is proven and the machines do work, albeit with many problems. I think classical computers were the same way, a laptop is an almost unthinkably complex device that we all are accustomed to today.

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