Quantcast
Connect with us

Google says they’ve achieved ‘quantum supremacy’ in new supercomputer breakthrough

Published

on

Scientists claimed Wednesday to have achieved a near-mythical state of computing in which a new generation of machine vastly outperforms the world’s fastest super-computer, known as “quantum supremacy”.

A team of experts working on Google’s Sycamore machine said their quantum system had executed a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken a classic computer 10,000 years to complete.

ADVERTISEMENT

A rival team at IBM has already expressed scepticism about their claim.

But if verified and harnessed, the Google device could make even the world’s most powerful supercomputers — capable of performing thousands of trillions of calculations per second — look like an early 2000s flip-phone.

Regular computers, even the fastest, function in binary fashion: they carry out tasks using tiny fragments of data known as bits that are only ever either 1 or 0.

But fragments of data on a quantum computer, known as qubits, can be both 1 and 0 at the same time.

This property, known as superposition, means a quantum computer, made up of several qubits, can crunch an enormous number of potential outcomes simultaneously.

ADVERTISEMENT

The computer harnesses some of the most mind-boggling aspects of quantum mechanics, including a phenomenon known as “entanglement” — in which two members of a pair of bits can exist in a single state, even if far apart.

Adding extra qubits therefore leads to an exponential boost in processing power.

In a study published in Nature, the international team designed the Sycamore quantum processer, made up of 54 qubits interconnected in a lattice pattern.

ADVERTISEMENT

They used the machine to perform a task related to random-number generation, identifying patterns amid seemingly random spools of figures.

The Sycamore, just a few millimetres across, solved the task within 200 seconds, a process that on a regular machine would take 10,000 years — several hundreds of millions of times faster, in other words.

ADVERTISEMENT

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai hailed the result as a sea change in computing.

“For those of us working in science and technology, it’s the ‘hello world’ moment we’ve been waiting for — the most meaningful milestone to date in the quest to make quantum computing a reality,” he wrote in a blog post.

John Martinis, from Google AI and a study author, told journalists his colleagues were “excited we can start talking” about their discovery.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The physics was right… Physicists thought this would work, they had faith in quantum physics… and tech companies now will see that this technology is much closer than they thought,” he said.

– Not so fast? –

Colleague Sergio Boixo described the discovery as “mind-blowing”.

The quest for quantum supremacy is still far from over, however. The authors themselves acknowledge the need for better hardware and more sophisticated monitoring techniques in order to truly harness the power of quantum.

ADVERTISEMENT

Some immediate applications of quantum computing could be in encryption software and AI, but its calculations could eventually lead to more efficient solar panels, drug design and even smarter and better financial transactions.

Wednesday’s announcement was not without controversy.

After a leaked draft of the Google lab’s paper appeared online last month, chip-maker IBM, which runs its own quantum computing programme, said the boasts of the Sycamore computer’s feats were exaggerated.

Instead of 10,000 years for an ordinary supercomputer to match Sycamore’s performance, IBM scientists claimed it would be more like two-and-a-half years using the most sophisticated traditional processors.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Because the original meaning of the term ‘quantum supremacy’… was to describe the point where quantum computers can do things that classical computers can’t, this threshold has not been met,” they wrote on their blog.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Trump was caught’: Every major GOP excuse for president’s conduct destroyed by ex-prosecutor

Published

on

Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade said Thursday's marathon impeachment hearing left her "shouting" at her television, so she gathered her thoughts and blew up Republican defenses one by one.

McQuade, an MSNBC legal analyst and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, exposed the weaknesses in each of the GOP's sometimes contradictory defenses of President Donald Trump against impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Here are the GOP defenses I have heard so far to articles of impeachment, along with the knee-jerk responses I have been shouting at my television.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Selfie-seeking frat boy’ Matt Gaetz scorched in brutal takedown after House committee blow-up

Published

on

In a brutally blunt look at Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the New Republic's Jacob Bacharach paints a portrait of a publicity-seeking Washington newcomer storming the nation's capital with an eye on mirroring the actions and rhetoric of the blustery president that he slavishly defends.

Following Gaetz's "drama queen" performances while serving on the House Judiciary Committee, Bacharach recalls, "On October 23, a gaggle of House Republicans, led by Matt Gaetz of Florida, stormed the Capitol’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. Gaetz had hoped to expose the supposedly secretive nature of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. “Stormed” was his own overly dramatic word (though Gaetz soon topped it by comparing his crew to the 300 glorious, nearly naked Spartans who, as you may recall, lost to a numerically superior force during the Battle of Thermopylae). A more accurate description would be to say they barged into a committee room like a bunch of entitled fussbudgets, argued with the committee chairman, took selfies, and then trundled off to hold a press conference."

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

How the ‘liberal’ media put Trump in the White House

Published

on

The American mainstream news media made many mistakes in its coverage of the 2016 presidential election.

It treated Donald Trump as a harmless curiosity because he was a reality TV show star and professional (alleged) billionaire.

Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings — both real and perceived — were amplified. Trump’s were downplayed if not largely ignored.

Continue Reading