Have you heard of quantum computing? You may likely have but perhaps passed it off as some Star Trek technobabble. But quantum computing is science fact not since fiction, so should you be keeping an eye on it?
It is being touted as the next level of computing, able to perform tasks and calculations that classical computers simply cannot handle. We have a bit of a closer look at quantum computing.
What is quantum computing?
To start with a very brief introduction:
Classical computing is built on the concept of binary bits. A ‘bit’ can be represented as a switch with two values – 0 and 1, or off and on. When a large number of these switches are connected, they can perform a wide range of complex operations. This kind of computing is ideal for applications for which there are efficient algorithms even for large problem sizes.
But there are other types of problems to be solved too. One might be to simulate complex physical systems, such as molecules, and another is the ability to perform mathematical operations, for example finding the prime numbers of very large numbers, which is essential to cryptography, the art of writing and solving codes.
Classical computers can do these operations but in too long a time frame that makes it unfeasible.
Meet the Qubit
Quantum computing is built around the concept of qubits – quantum bits. The qubit is manipulated by three quantum mechanical properties – superposition, entanglement, and interference.
By connecting these qubits, similarly to the bits in classical computing, a quantum computer operates at speeds much faster than classical ones.
Now we have a bit of basic background, here are four things to know about quantum computing.
Quantum will not replace classical computing
Quantum computers are better thought of as devices that augment classical computers, instead of replacing them. In this model, the core application would be executed on a classical computer system, which handles the data storage and infrastructure, and the quantum computer handles only the subset of the task that’s best suited to its particular strengths.
Quantum computing will be in a cloud
Quantum computers require very specialised hardware and supporting infrastructure. For example, one approach to quantum computing needs temperatures close to absolute zero to achieve superconductivity and maintain its quantum state.
Users will be required to access quantum services instead of installing their own on-site quantum computers.
It’s early, but quantum is real
Quantum computers aren’t yet at the point where they can solve meaningful problems faster than classical computers. But that will likely start to change later this decade. Forward-looking organisations can benefit from monitoring developments and even taking the opportunity to start experimenting to better understand what quantum computing can bring to their business.
4. Be prepared
It might be early days yet, but it will have a real impact on a tomorrow that is coming faster than you think!
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