Here’s what you need to know about quantum computing
Quantum computing is arguably the most exciting new frontier in IT. A universal quantum computer promises to tackle business and science problems that are too complex and exponential for classical computing systems to handle.
Though classical computers can run technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), which can find patterns buried in vast amounts of existing data, quantum computers can deliver solutions to problems that are far larger and more complex. However, does quantum computing signal the end of the classical computer? I envision that quantum computers will work in tandem with classical high-performance systems to address problems that are impractical to solve on the latter alone.
Universal quantum computers
Universal fault-tolerant quantum computers are the most powerful and the most difficult to build of all the types of quantum computers. Other types of quantum systems include quantum annealers and analog quantum systems. These systems simply don’t have the full functionality of a universal quantum system.
Getting started with quantum
Much like when the first room-sized computers were turned on in the 1940s, quantum computing is in its very early days. Yet after decades of research, it’s time to take this technology beyond the research lab to the commercial realm.
Quantum computing is becoming more mainstream, but its fundamental difference from classical computing means that more than just quantum physicists need to understand it and determine how it will affect their fields and industries.
Consult this quantum primer to learn the basics, from qubits to superposition to entanglement.
Quantum computing’s potential
One of the first and most promising applications for universal quantum computers will be in chemistry. Even for simple molecules such as caffeine, the number of quantum states in the molecule can be very large — so large that all the conventional computing memory and processing power that could ever be built could not model it.
Scientists have already developed techniques to model some molecules on quantum computers, and experimental demonstrations are in progress. Modeling a molecule is the key to understanding its properties and could lead to the discovery of new materials and medicines.
Though quantum computing is being applied first to scientific applications, it also has the potential to revolutionize industries and business processes. Some quantum systems will work in concert with today’s classical high-performance systems to address problems that are impractical to solve on the latter alone. Today, with an IT infrastructure built for cognitive business that combines analytics acceleration and data-centric design, quantum computing can help you uncover new insights and accelerate decision-making to drive your success.
The following are some examples:
- Supply chain and logistics: Finding the optimal path for ultra-efficient logistics and global supply chains, such as optimizing fleet operations for deliveries during the holiday season.
- Financial services: Finding new ways to model financial data and isolating key global risk factors to make better investments.
- Artificial intelligence: Making facets of AI such as machine learning much more powerful when data sets are very large, such as in searching images or video.
Perhaps even more exciting than what is known about quantum computers is what is unknown. With the advent of very new technology often comes unexpected applications, and while many such applications may require sufficiently capable systems that are more than a decade away, there will likely be applications in the next few years that begin to disrupt industries.
No one is entirely sure of the full breadth of what a universal quantum computer is capable of. That’s an exciting prospect — and that’s what I look forward to discovering.