June 15, 2024

Quantum Computing: The Future

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The world is making a breakthrough in every field, technology being no exception. What’s fascinating is how a particular technology could suddenly soar to new heights and play a part in shaping the future. When Einstein discovered relativity, he was clueless about it becoming an important concept but look at us now, opening up this infinite box of opportunities known as quantum computing. Let’s dive right into this beautiful concept which will make a difference in the future. 

It is often considered a complicated technology to understand but, for people curious to learn, let’s make it elementary and begin with a holistic approach. Starting right from the How, What and Why questions.

What is Quantum Computing?

When professionals run into a problem they turn towards supercomputers which aren’t that super as sometimes the scale and complexity of the problems are too much for them to handle. This is where quantum computers could come to the rescue, they harness the law of quantum mechanics to solve problems that are too complicated for traditional computing technology. The astonishing power of a quantum computer is due to the colossal resemblance of having three elemental properties of quantum mechanics: quantum superposition, entanglement and interference.

To understand precisely, in classical computers there is something known as bits which store data, and it only takes the value of either 1 or 0 at any given time,  whereas a qubit can be found in a superposition of both states 0 and 1 until a measurement is obtained.

Quantum Superposition:

A quantum particle is used as a bit, also known as a qubit. It could be an electron, photon, or any particle, but outer electrons in phosphorus atoms are frequently used. When the spin is up it’s 1 and when the spin is down it’s 0. The spin can be controlled with an electromagnetic field. The spin of electrons can be up, or down, and while we’re not observing, they can be up and down at the same time. This is known as quantum superposition.

Quantum Entanglement:

In quantum mechanics, we use the property of entanglement. Two particles can be linked so that no matter the distance, one particle always gives the same result as its other half. This entanglement will manifest itself in the outcomes of measurements on these qubits. When measured, these qubits will always capitulate 0 or 1 at random, but no matter how distant they are from each other, they will consistently give the same result.

Quantum Interference:

Quantum interference is an outgrowth of superposition. It is a fundamental concept in quantum mechanics that describes the behaviour of quantum systems when they interact with each other. In quantum mechanics, particles such as electrons and photons can behave as both waves and particles and when they interact with other particles or waves, they can either interfere constructively or destructively. Constructive interference is where the crest of one wave meets the crest of another wave having the same frequency resulting in an amplitude which is the sum of the two individual amplitudes. On the other hand, destructive interference is when a range of one wave meets a trough of another wave, then the amplitude is equal to the difference in the individual amplitudes.

How do they work?

Quantum computers tend to deal with instructions in a different way when compared to classical computers. Traditional computers use binary bits whereas quantum computers convey information through qubits. The qubits capability of being in superposition is the core of quantum computing, as it displays a huge analytical power.

They harness an array of algorithms to perform various assessments and inferences. User inputs are then accustomed by the computer to create a multifaceted space where patterns and individual data points are stored. The physical construction of a quantum computer comprises three parts. The first one is a classical computer with a framework that executes programming by delivering commands to qubits.  The next part is the transfer of signals from the computer to qubits. Lastly, a repository is required for storing these qubits. This repository must maintain the qubits in their constant form. This demands specific requirements that range from needing to be near zero degrees or the housing of a vacuum chamber.

Qubits require huge sustenance as even a basic instruction can cause disturbance and result in a loss of a quantum state. Not only small vibrations but slight temperature shifts will also make the qubits decohere.

That’s why quantum computers are kept isolated, and the ones that run on superconducting circuits — the most salient method, preferred by Google and IBM — have to be kept at near-absolute zero (a cool -460 degrees Fahrenheit).

Some applications of Quantum Computing

  1. AI and Machine Learning:

Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize AI and machine learning by providing exponential speedup for certain types of calculations especially related to optimization, which involves finding the best solution from a large set of possible solutions. Quantum computing can provide exponential speedup for certain types of optimization problems, which can enable us to find better solutions faster. Secondly, quantum machine learning algorithms can be used to classify data more quickly than classical algorithms. Additionally, quantum computing can be used to speed up the training of machine learning models, which can help reduce the time required to develop new AI applications.

  1. Computational Chemistry:

It is one of the most promising fields because of the ability of quantum computers to exist in both values i.e. 1 and 0, concurrently. This could provide a great opportunity for the machine to map molecules elaborately which could serve the purpose of pharmaceutical research. Along with that, it can also improve the nitrogen-fixation process for creating ammonia-based fertilizer; creating a room-temperature superconductor; removing carbon dioxide for a better climate; and creating solid-state batteries.

  1. Financial Services:

Application of quantum technology in this field will prove to be rewarding as it can accomplish intricate computation and give a better solution in lesser development time. Algorithmic trading is another possibility where complex algorithms are used to automatically trigger share dealings by evaluating the market variables, which is beneficial, especially for high-volume transactions.

  1. Logistics:

Quantum computers would help to optimise transportation and routing systems by helping them to calculate the most efficient routes that would save fuel consumption and travel time. Secondly, it can help companies to maintain their inventory by predicting demand and optimizing stocking levels. This would reduce stockouts and waste. It would also aid in the supply chain by predicting and mitigating risks, improving visibility, and optimizing logistics processes. Thus, improving freight transportation and last-mile deliveries.

  1. Weather Forecasting & Climate Change:

Quantum computers can gather huge amounts of data, in a stipulated period. This could lead to enhanced weather system modelling allowing scientists to predict the changing weather patterns in no time and with excellent accuracy — something which can be essential for the current time when the world is going under a climate change.

Forecasting consists of various factors, like air pressure, temperature and air density, which lead to difficulty in providing accurate data. Quantum computing could help overcome these difficulties easily. Meteorologists will also be able to analyse more detailed climate models, which will provide greater insight into climate change and ways to mitigate it.

Breakthroughs in Quantum Computing

These are some of the companies scaling the quantum peak-

CompanyMilestone
IBMthe first company to give a cloud-based computing approach. Its first cloud-based processor consisted of a five-qubit processor and IBM continued to introduce new versions.
GoogleGoogle has claimed to achieve an experimental milestone of scaling a logical qubit, demonstrating for the first time that it’s possible to reduce errors by increasing the number of qubits
MicrosoftMicrosoft introduced  Azure Quantum, the world’s first full-stack, open-cloud computer.
IntelIt has proficiency in building spin qubits that can operate at a higher temperature. Intel also has skills in quantum dot arrays that are useful in large-scale qubit processor productions using transistor fabrication technology.
Rigetti ComputingRigetti uses superconducting qubit technology to make and deploy integrated quantum computing systems.
Toshibais known for its Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) program as it protects network communications.

Conclusion

Quantum computing is a rapidly developing field that promises to reform computing and solve some of the world’s most complex problems. The property of qubits allows quantum computers to perform certain calculations exponentially faster than classical computers.

Despite the promise of quantum computing, there are still significant challenges that must be overcome before it can be widely adopted. One of the biggest challenges is developing error-correcting codes that can protect quantum information from the effects of noise and decoherence. Another challenge is building quantum computers with enough qubits to solve meaningful problems.

Overall, the field of quantum computing is still in its early stages, but it has the potential to fundamentally transform computing and solve problems that are currently intractable with classical computers. As research continues, we will likely see significant advancements in both the theory and practical applications of quantum computing.

Blog by Tamanna Shaikh

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