What is a Quantum Computer?
The difference between a quantum computer and the computers we use in our homes is the way it processes data. All the devices we are familiar with, from smartphones and laptops to the super chess computer “deep blue”, store everything in bits, the smallest unit of information. A bit can have one of two values. These are 0 or 1.
Think of it like a light bulb. The bulb is either on (1) or off(0). A file on a computer disk looks like a bunch of light bulbs, some on and others off. In a system equipped with many such light bulbs, you can encode information such as the phrase”Albert was here” or a painting of the Mona Lisa.
When solving a problem, a toggle device must constantly switch these bulbs on and off, writing and clearing the results of intermediate calculations so that they do not fill up memory. This process takes time. So if the task is too complex, the computer will think for a very long time.Quantum computers, unlike their older cousins, store and process data using quantum bits, or qubits for short. Qubits are not just “opened” and “closed” units, they are in transition state or they are units that can be in the open and closed state at the same time. Continuing the light bulb analogy, a qubit is like a light bulb that you turn off but keeps flashing. Or like Schrodinger’s cat, which is considere alive and dead at the same time.
The fact that the light bulbs in the quantum computer can be both on and off at the same time saves a lot of time. Therefore, a quantum computer can solve complex problems much faster than even the most powerful conventional device. Google claims that its quantum machine Sycamore can do a calculation in just over 3 minutes that an ordinary supercomputer would take 10.000 years to solve. This is where the term”superiorit” comes into play.
The Future is Quantum
We learned that quantum computers can solve complex problems. So why are transistor computers still in use? Because quantum is still at an eraly stage and the”blinking lightbulb” is behaving very unstable. The more qubits there are in a system, the harder things get. The feasibility of complex calculations also depends, among others, on the number of qubits.
Quantum computers process information differently.Therefore, they need new software from scratch. You cannot install windows on quantum computers. You will need a completely new quantum operating system and quantum applications.
Altough scientists and computing giants are striving to open up to quantum fields, quantum computers work just like external hard drives connected to and managed through normal computers. They are used to solve a narrow range of problems, such as modeling a hydrogen atom or searching databases. Despite the power of quantum computing, you can’t yet use it to surf the internet and watch videos of cats riding a skateboard. But we can say that the future is quantum. The first quantum computers hit the market in 1999. Today, big organizations like google, honeywell and IBM, Toshiba, Alibaba and Baidu are investing heavily in this field. Those who are interested in quantum can take a look at google’s report from here.