Quantum physics has defied logic since the atom was first studied in the early 20th century. It turns out atoms do not follow the traditional rules of physics. Quantum particles can move forward or backward in time, exist in two places at once and can even “teleport”. It’s these strange behaviours that quantum computers aim to use to their advantage.

Classical computers manipulate ones and zeros to crunch through operations, but quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits. Just like classical computers, quantum computers use ones and zeros, but qubits have a third state called “superposition”, which allows them to represent a one or a zero at the same time. Instead of analyzing a one or a zero sequentially, superposition allows two qubits in superposition to represent four scenarios at the same time. Therefore, the time it takes to crunch a data set is significantly reduced.

Every day we create and consume volumes of data. An incredible 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created every day, 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone. A staggering figure, it is expected that the volume of data is to double every two years (source). In order to adequately process h data and to extract its meaning, we require tremendously more computing power. That’s where quantum computers step in to save our day. Quantum computers can solve problems that are impossible or would take a traditional computer an impractical amount of time (a billion years) to solve. It is believed that quantum computers will change the landscape of data security. Even though quantum computers would be able to crack many of today’s encryption techniques, predictions are that they would create quantum hack-proof replacements.

Classical computers are better at some tasks than quantum computers such as email, spreadsheets and desktop publishing to name a few. The intent of quantum computers is to be a different tool to solve different problems, not to replace classical computers.

Quantum computers are great for solving optimization problems from figuring out the best way to schedule flights at an airport to determining the best delivery routes for the FedEx truck. Google announced it has a quantum computer that is 100 million times faster than any classical computer in its lab.

Every day, we produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (check above, my source). That number is equivalent to the content on 5 million laptops. Quantum computers will make it possible to process the amount of data we’re generating in the age of big data. In order to keep quantum computers stable, they need to be working in an extremely cold setting. That’s why the inside of** D-Wave **Systems quantum computer is -460 degrees fahrenheit.

According to Professor Catherine Mc Geoch at Amherst University, a quantum computer is “thousands of times” faster than a conventional computer. **Superposition,** as described before, is the term used to describe the quantum state where particles can exist in multiple states at the same time, and which allows quantum computers to look at many different variables at the same time. Rather than use more electricity, quantum computers will reduce power consumption anywhere from 100 up to 1000 times because quantum computers use quantum tunnelling. Quantum computers are very fragile. Any kind of vibration impacts the atoms and causes decoherence. There are several algorithms already developed for quantum computers including Grover’s for searching an unstructured database and Shor’s for factoring large numbers. Once a stable quantum computer gets developed, expect that **Machine Learning** will exponentially accelerate even reducing the time to solve a problem from hundreds of thousands of years to seconds.

Remember when IBM’s computer Deep Blue defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997? It was able to gain a competitive advantage because it examined 200 million possible moves each second. A quantum machine would be able to calculate **1 trillion moves per second.** This year, Google stated publicly that it would produce a viable quantum computer in the next 5 years and added that they would reach “quantum supremacy” with a 53-qubit quantum computer. The top supercomputers can still manage everything a five- to 20-qubit quantum computer can, but will be surpassed by a machine with 53 qubits and will attain supremacy at that point. Shortly after that announcement, IBM said it would offer commercial quantum machines to businesses within a year.

A conventional computer simulates any information as a bit-a zero or a one. A Quantum Computer is completely different as the quantum bit has a more fluid, non-binary identity. It can exist in a superposition or a combination of zero and one, with some probability of being zero and some probability of being one. In other words, its identity is on a spectrum. For example, it could have a 70% chance of being zero and a 30% chance of being one, or 80-20 %, or 60-40 %. The possibilities are infinite and the key idea is that we have to give up on precise values of zero and one, and allow for some uncertainty. The quantum computer creates the fluid combination of zero and one. No matter what you do, the Superposition remains intact. It’s kind of like storing a mixture of two fluids, whether or not to stir the fluids remain in a mixture, but when we get to know the results the quantum computer can unmix the zero and one.

Conventional computers cannot operate the information in the aforementioned fluid combinations of zero and one. We do not experience this fluid quantum reality in our everyday lives. So, if you are confused by quantum, don’t worry you’re getting it. But even though we don’t experience quantum strangeness, we can see it’s very real effects in action. The quantum computer always won over conventional computers because it harnessed superposition and uncertainty. And these quantum properties are powerful to build future quantum technologies.

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