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Current Affairs

Quantum supremacy

Date: 29 September 2019 Tags: IT, Mobile & Computers

Issue

Google has claimed to have achieved ‘quantum supremacy’. That means that researchers at Google had solved a really difficult problem in seconds with the help of quantum computers which a supercomputer could not.

 

Background

The research paper is yet to be formally approved by peers in the field and became public after having appeared briefly on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) website as apparently some of its researchers were involved in the project.

 

Details

  • Exploiting the principles of quantum mechanics, these computers can easily tackle computational problems that may be tough for the classical computer as the size of the numbers and number of inputs involved grows bigger.

  • Conventional computers process information in ‘bits’ or 1s and 0s, following classical physics under which our computers can process a ‘1’ or a ‘0’ at a time.

  • Quantum computers compute in ‘qubits’ (or quantum bits). They exploit the properties of quantum mechanics, the science that governs how matter behaves on the atomic scale. In this scheme of things, processors can be a 1 and a 0 simultaneously, a state called quantum superposition.

  • While this accelerates the speed of computation, a machine with less than a 100 qubits can solve problems with a lot of data that are even theoretically beyond the capabilities of the most powerful supercomputers.

Benefits of Quantum Computers

  • A quantum computer can solve this problem rapidly because it can attack complex problems that are beyond the scope of a classical computer.

  • The basic advantage is speed, as it is able to simulate several classical computers working in parallel.

  • Several encryption systems used in banking and security applications are premised on computers being unable to handle mathematical problems that are computationally demanding beyond a limit. Quantum computers, in theory, can surpass those limits.