Controversies and discussions about tech-related topics keep piling up these days. Essential programming versus time complexity is one of the most popular themes in the IT universe, but many other debates keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
What makes this subject so interesting? The answer is easy – if developed properly, quantum computers can revolutionize the world as we know it today. The topic is worth our time, which is why we decided to explain the two concepts and discuss the benefits, downsides, practical use-cases, and trivia related to quantum computing.
Classical and Quantum Computing Explained
It’s not possible to understand the future of computing if you don’t know the difference between the basic principles of classical and quantum computing.
Experts define quantum computing as the area of study focused on developing computer technology based on the principles of quantum theory, which explains the nature and behavior of energy and matter on the quantum (atomic and subatomic) level. On the other hand, classical computing is based on the so-called binary computing.
The two systems are different and hence achieve different levels of performance.
Bits are essential elements of classical computing because traditional computers use values 0 and 1 to describe any given action and make the corresponding calculations. Although we know that the system is highly practical (after all, the entire IT world relies on classical computers), its computational power is far from being limitless.”
This is where quantum computers step in to take the process to a whole new level. Quantum computing replaces bits with qubits and it allows new machines to conduct a nearly endless number of calculations per second. Quantum computing is possible thanks to these two concepts:
- Superposition: According to quantum physicists, particles can exist in different states – for example, they can be in different positions, have different energies, or be moving at different speeds. This is quite a big deal because quantum computers use the principle of superposition to combine more than two basic positions (ones and zeros) and come up with many more calculations simultaneously. In other words, the quantum system works with four combinations: 0/0, 0/1, 1/0, and 1/1.
- Entanglement: Quantum entanglement is a label for the observed physical phenomenon that occurs when a pair or group of particles is generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the pair or group cannot be described independently of the state of the others, even when the particles are separated by a large distance. It’s a complex phenomenon, but let us simply conclude that it enables quantum computers to run a huge number of operations at once. Contrary to quantum-oriented machines, traditional computers conduct calculations one by one.
Important Quantum Computing Facts
All the things we mentioned so far are probably too difficult and complex for all of us non-physicists to figure out completely, so it’s necessary to make the story a bit simpler. We can do that by showing you some of the most impressive facts and stats about quantum computing.
- Quantum computers are so fast that they can complete certain operations much quicker than traditional computers. Classical computers would spend hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years more trying to do the same thing.
- If you’d like to write a paper about quantum computing, you’d have to mention the cybersecurity issue as well. After all, if you believe your 12-digit security code is impossible to breach, think twice since quantum computers can try each combination within seconds.
- Quantum computers function properly only if placed in a close to absolute zero environments. This is why companies manufacturing the so-called dilution refrigerators sell their products for up to $500 thousand.
- Subatomic particles can move through physical barriers. This phenomenon – also known as quantum tunneling – reduces power consumption in quantum computers. According to rough estimations, quantum computers will use up to a thousand times fewer energy thanks to quantum tunneling.
- Quantum computers are extremely sensitive, which is why it’s necessary to eliminate physical disturbances such as vibrations. If the computer is physically disturbed, it influences particles on a subatomic level and causes incoherence.
- Almost 25 years ago, a classical computer called Deep Blue defeated one of the best chess players ever, Garry Kasparov. Deep Blue could analyze over 200 million moves per second, which was already too much for the human player to handle. Quantum computers will take the game to the next level because they will be able to calculate more than a trillion moves each second.
- Blockchain is getting increasingly popular because it enables safe and secure online operations. However, a lot of IT experts believe quantum computing will jeopardize the whole concept due to its sheer computational power that will be able to crack almost every chain of information blocks.
- Most of the classical algorithms do not work with quantum computers. It’s a serious setback that forces programmers to come up with cutting-edge algorithms for the new type of computer.
- Quantum computing might speed up the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Today’s AI systems are relatively simple as they cannot emulate the processes taking place in the human brain, but they could be able to achieve it with the quantum computational power.
- A physics superstar Richard Feynman was the first person to mention the concept of quantum computing. He did it in 1959 during the lecture entitles “There is plenty of room at the bottom.”
- Only five organizations developed quantum chips to date. These companies are Google, IBM, Intel, Rigetti, and D-Wave.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Quantum Computing
Quantum computing is a genuine game-changer in the IT realm, but it comes with substantial advantages and disadvantages just like any other concept or technology. We want to mention the fundamental pros and cons, so let’s begin by discussing the biggest benefits of using quantum computers.
- Immaculate performance: We already explained to you how quantum computers operate incredibly quickly, which is by far the most important benefit of using the new form of technology. Calculations that once required ages to complete can now be done in mere seconds.
- Complex calculations: Thanks to quantum entanglement, new computers can analyze and calculate a variety of elements at once and deliver results almost instantly. This is a far more advanced solution compared to classical computers that need to do things one step at a time and hence spend days, months, or even years to do the same thing.
The advantages of quantum computing are remarkable, but is there anything that could spoil the fun for IT professionals? The answer is: Yes, there is. Namely, quantum computers come with a few disadvantages as well.
- Development costs: Building a super-powerful quantum computer is everything but easy, which is what makes the whole process extremely expensive and affordable to the richest companies only.
- New algorithms needed: Traditional algorithms work well with classical computers, but they do not match the needs of quantum computing. For this reason, programmers have to think of a whole new series of fresh, quantum-focused, algorithms.
- It’s a time-consuming process: although being quite a big deal, quantum computers are still in the early stages of development: “In other words, we cannot expect them to become part of our everyday life and work anytime soon.”
Practical Examples of Quantum Computing in Action
You’ve seen so many things about quantum computing so far, but there is one more question left to be answered. What are the use-cases of quantum computing? We will point out only a few popular examples:
- The traveling salesman problem
The traveling salesman problem asks: Given a collection of cities connected by highways, what is the shortest route that visits every city and returns to the starting place? Although it may seem like a simple and irrelevant riddle, it has a wide range of practical implications in science, logistics, and many other industries. It turns out that problems with only 10 cities can produce over 300 thousand solutions and the only way to calculate so many possibilities is through quantum computing.
- Financial modeling
Financial institutions such as JP Morgan are trying to utilize quantum computing for making incredibly accurate business predictions and reducing risks. A lot of recent research has focused specifically on quantum’s potential to dramatically speed up the so-called Monte Carlo model, which essentially gauges the probability of various outcomes and their corresponding risks.
The Bottom Line
Quantum computing is a promising technology that could change the way we see the world around us, but it still has a long way to go. In this post, we analyzed the differences between quantum and classical computers and showed you the pros and cons of the new model. We hope our post helped you figure out the basics of quantum computing, but make sure to leave a comment if you have any questions or ideas to share with us – we would be glad to answer!
James Murphy is a tech expert and at https://dissertation-today.com/. He writes about computer programming, science, and engineering. James is a father of two lovely toddlers and a dedicated supporter of the New York Yankees.
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