Quantum computing employs the principles of quantum mechanics to perform certain types of calculations far faster than classical computers. By taking advantage of quantum mechanical effects like superposition and quantum interference, quantum computers can affect a significant speed boost for tasks including machine learning (ML), system optimization and the simulation of complex physical systems like molecules.
Unlike a classical computer that uses bits to represent either a 0 or a 1, quantum computers use qubits (short for quantum bits). These qubits can exist in a superposition, which means they can simultaneously be in both 0 and 1 states. Superposition enables quantum computers to perform calculations in parallel, a process that can achieve exponentially faster speeds than the computers we use daily.
It’s all about the math
Quantum computers are particularly adept at handling a type of calculation called combinatorics. This is a field of mathematics concerned with problems of selection, arrangement, and operation within a finite or discrete system.
Combinatoric calculations are used to find an arrangement of items that optimizes a specific goal. A good example of this is code-breaking, in which a nearly infinite number of permutations must be tried in order to crack a given cipher.
Today’s computers can iterate through billions of permutations to achieve the desired outcome, but the process is time-consuming and expensive. Quantum computing offers a faster, more efficient method of performing combinatoric calculations.
The present and future of quantum computing
Quantum computing promises to open new opportunities in AI, a field that relies on combinatoric processing to make predictions based on large data sets. It can also give an edge to financial institutions that fight for millisecond advantages in obtaining price information. Using quantum computing to speed up complex combinatoric calculations could give financiers an edge over the competition.
This tech may also be used to create emerging energy solutions like new battery technology. Batteries are a hot topic these days, with various tech titans racing to find a better way to power our future devices, vehicles, and infrastructure. Quantum computing will help designers better integrate new materials and learn how to optimize batteries for longevity and efficiency.
Biomedical researchers will use quantum computing to create complex models that help them better understand how atoms interact with one another. This, in turn, could lead to breakthroughs in drug development that would significantly speed the design, production and release of future therapies.
There’s no telling how much this emerging technology will impact our lives. But rest assured, scientists are hard at work trying to find out. As you read this, new quantum computing systems are coming online in aid of the technology that powers our lives every day.