An important milestone for quantum computers seems to have been reached with Google using a quantum computer to solve a problem 1 billion times faster than the fastest supercomputer in the world. This could be the beginning of quantum supremacy. Quantum supremacy is when quantum computers become faster than regular computers. However, quantum supremacy will be for certain classes of problems.
If you think of difficult mathematical problems as searching through mountainous terrain for an answer then quantum computers are better when the answer comes faster from tunneling through mountains instead of going around.
If the problems are easy then there are no mountains to tunnel through. Regular computers are so useful because they can solve so many problems. Many of those problems are pretty tough.
What was this first problem that was hard enough where it would take 10,000 years for a 200 petaflop supercomputer to solve but only 3 minutes for the Google quantum computer?
Robert Hackett at Fortune reports that Google sampled randomly generated numbers produced through a specialized scenario involving quantum phenomena. The researchers said they determined that their quantum computer beat regular computers at the task, which involved calculating the output of certain specialized circuits.
“While our processor takes about 200 seconds to sample one instance of the quantum circuit 1 million times, a state-of-the-art supercomputer would require approximately 10,000 years to perform the equivalent task,” the researchers said.
Google’s quantum computer, dubbed “Sycamore,” contained 53-qubits, or “quantum bits,” a measure of the machine’s potential power. The team scaled back from a 72-qubit device, dubbed “Bristlecone,” it had previously designed.
The researchers estimate that performing the same experiment on a Google Cloud server would take 50 trillion hours—too long to be feasible.
In the future, quantum computers will work with regular computers and talented programmers and researchers. They will expand the universe of solvable problems. However, you will only use the quantum computers for those really difficult problems that have great value.
They will help with certain aspects of artificial intelligence and machine learning. They will help crack certain problems in math, physics and chemistry. They will help discover new drugs and materials. They will help will large scale optimization problems.
Certain big and tough problems have great value. Certain chemicals and fertilizers that become better or more energy-efficient could boost the world economy by 20%. Having logistics on a large scale with optimal efficiency can also boost the world economy by 10-30%.
You will probably not have one. In the rare instances you need one, they will either have produced answers which we all use or you will send the parameters of a problem via a cloud interface for a solution.
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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9 thoughts on “Google Quantum Supremacy Problem Involved Random Number Sampling”
Cybersecurity? Keep your computer locked in a Faraday cage at least 200 m from the nearest connection to the outside world. Don’t even use an external electricity supply.
Have a separate little “burner” PC for web surfing, but be prepared to dispose of it the second there is any sign of infection. And I mean dispose. “Burner” is not a euphemism.
There’s been people trying to convert advanced optical elements into computational subsystems.
I think the goal is to have something like a graphics chips which is currently used as a specialized graphics and vector calculation unit. Your normal general processor works out if it has a graphics problem and sends that portion of the work to the GPU.
Likewise you could send your quantum style calculations to the Quantum processing unit. Maybe your optical processing unit. Etc.
Yes, I am trying to say that “quantum supremacy” will apply when a general purpose quantum computer overcome a digital computer. In other case, you may have a specific calculator, not a real universal programmable computer in the modern sense of the words. This is like the optical correllators in interferometry that can add light on real time and nobody say that those correlators are faster computer than a digital one used in radio interferometry…
The quantum computers of today are able to solve quickly a limited number of algorithms. This is not quantum supremacy in my humble opinion.
You may be trying to be snarky, but it isn’t really a new concept that a dedicated analog circuit can be much faster than a digital one.
Not infinitely fast, because electricity takes time to even travel along a wire, let alone activate an op-amp. But really fast even compared to a modern digital system.
The modulating factor is how flexible it is. A pure analog system can do one calculation only, depending on how it’s wired. These quantum systems seem (at present) to be limited to a particular class of calculations. Dedicated digital processors are similar, while the more flexible digital processors can do everything from graphics calculations, numerical simulations, accounting spreadsheets, web surfing and playing videos all on the same circuits. The more flexible, the slower.
good one sir
Great job on this article Brian. You’ve taken something really complex and brought it down to earth for me. Really appreciate this skill!
Following this reasoning way, the analogic aim computers of the 50´s anti-aircraft guns are millions times faster than the faster digital computer of today. Really the analogic computers are near infinite speed since the output is given at the same time the input…
But what about the future of cybersecurity?
Ps you made a typo: They will help will (with) large scale optimization problems.
Not yet an interesting result IMO compared to this computer design.
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