Quantum computing is a combination of computing and quantum mechanics. The principle that makes quantum computing possible is known as superpositioning, or having two things in the same place at the same time. Quantum bits, also known as qubits can act as both a 1 and 0 simultaneously whereas classical computing uses bits in the form of 1 or 0, alternatively to carry out computations.
It is understandable why quantum computing is expected to be such a disruptive technology once it reaches fruition, seeing as it can handle much more complex problems by nature than traditional computers and supercomputers.
Why does this breakthrough matter?
Google is working to scale up to a seven-by-seven matrix of qubits, while IBM is working to scale up to a 50 qubit matrix for their quantum computing chip. Both of these chips represent significant improvements over previous matrices ranging from 2-by-4 to 1-by-6 qubits. The chips will require shielding and supercooling in order to work, but they require minimal amounts of electricity to operate.
How will this breakthrough impact computing?
Each qubit in a quantum computer represents an exponential increase in computing power versus a traditional computer of equal size. 10 qubits is likely to be equivalent to 100 classical bits. So when a quantum computer is operating at 2048 qubits, it is roughly equivalent to 4.19 million bits, a significant amount of increase in efficiency.
How will this impact the advance of technology?
Quantum computing at scale will likely accelerate the speed at which artificial intelligence advances and other technologies can be brought to fruition. Many researchers suggest that modern cryptography will be useless, and that life as we know it will change rapidly.
Google and IBM have both come a long way since IBM announced its 5 qubit chip in 2016, and are seeking to reach their goals of 49 and 50 qubits respectively by the end of 2017. Both seek to retain supremacy in this race to quantum computing supremacy.
Quantum computing has already become an apparent factor in modern computing, but it is still working toward a point at which it can effectively be used to solve the world’s most complicated problems. It is not unlikely that with the amount of intelligence, funding, and other resources being pushed toward this end that quantum computing will leave a vibrant mark on history beginning in the relatively near future.