Quantum computing will take computer processing power to the next level, beyond even that of the supercomputer. Quantum computing draws its power from matter and energy on the atomic and subatomic level, giving it scope to deal with problems in quantum mechanics that conventional computers are unable to get close to.
It was first proposed by Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman almost 40 years ago. However, these computers are still years away from being used on a commercial scale.
How does quantum computing work?
Conventional computers utilise a stream of binary electrical or optical pulses to create outputs, otherwise known as bits. In quantum computing, subatomic particles—or qubits—are used instead. Qubits have greater functionality than standard bits, and this is the reason for their supreme power.
Through a process known as “superposition”, qubits can represent considerably more possible combinations because they exist simultaneously in different states. This means that a quantum computer can process numerous different scenarios at the same time.
Pairs of qubits can entangle and co-exist in a single quantum state. Entanglement means that changing one part of the pair will alter the other in a predictable way. This provides scope for the quantum computer to increase its processing power exponentially and speeds up calculations to a level at which conventional computers cannot compete.
What can quantum computing be used for?
Quantum computing is not a replacement for home desktops, nor is it a system that most businesses will aspire to own. Due to the molecular level at which it operates, quantum computing will bring value to the likes of science, engineering and healthcare. It can also help to tackle some of the current technology trends such as big data and artificial intelligence. Uses include:
- Investigating ways to create higher performance batteries is an area already being explored by the likes of Volkswagen.
- Pharmaceutical companies are also able to make use of quantum computing’s analytical capacity to explore new drug development.
- In financial services, its power can be deployed to undertake complex financial modelling and risk management.
- In logistics, to find solutions for traffic congestion and optimum route planning. Its ability to manage numerous combinations of scenarios makes small work of tasks that are beyond the scope of conventional computers.
- Big data is growing in importance, and artificial intelligence is needed to analyse the level of data being generated. Quantum computing will inject power into machine learning to manage the increasing size of databases.
Is quantum computing the future?
Although several companies are experimenting with quantum computers, we are still some way from creating a quantum computer that can truly make a difference.
One of the challenges is the stability of the qubits while in superposition. Noise or movement can pull particles out of their quantum state, leading to task-errors. Scientists have designed equipment to reduce external interference, but even in a stable environment it can take many hundreds of qubits to form a secure connection. The number required has yet to be achieved.
Another challenge is a shortage of talent to undertake the research required to progress quantum computing at a fast-enough pace.
Quantum computers may not be about to replace the operating systems in your typical law firm, but their potential to transform the way we investigate complex social, economic and medical issues is only years away.
Businesses need to be prepared for the cultural disruption such technology will bring, and the knock-on effects it will have on supporting industries. CBSIT is here to help you to keep up-to-date with the latest trends. Explore our blog for information and insight into the world of tech.