Quantum Computer for Non computer techies!!!
Disclaimer: “Not computer science techies”
Gone are the era of supercomputers and supercomputing, it’s the era of ‘Quantum computing’. Well don’t be overwhelmed with the term, it’s fine if you have heard it for the first time. Big Techies like Google, IBM, Microsoft are in a race to win on what is called “Quantum Supremacy”. Okay!, we have introduced two terms which make no sense to an ordinary person.
Let’s go back to the ground principles, normal computers work on simple ‘Yes or No’ (or) ‘True or False’ logic, there’s something called BITS, which stores your data. The data is stored in the form of binary code (o’s and 1’s). These normal computers are best for serving day to day tasks, help you with your homework or assignments. Everyone is happy!, It does have a limitation in the scientific computation or high end computation models such as drug design, where solving the problem may end up taking thousands of years on a regular computer. Next comes the era of ‘supercomputers’, supercomputers work on the principle of parallel processing.
Series and Parallel Processing: Series processing is an ordinary process, where the operations are performed one after the other. A perfect example for this is the scanner in the grocery store. Whenever you go out for groceries, during billing, the items are scanned one after the other but not at the same time. Similarly, multiple operations are done in sequence of steps in case of conventional processing.
Now you guys might have vaguely figured what could be parallel computing or processing. The invention of supercomputers have come from the concept of parallel computing. Parallel computation is a concept where multiple tasks are done simultaneously and output is fed to you at one go.
The picture below perfectly illustrates the computation limitation. Every system invented has a loophole no matter what, likewise the supercomputer does have a loophole in solving complex problem sets. The problem here refers, how reliable is solving the problem? Is it worth wasting time on large computation which may or may not end reliable results? These are some intuitive questions asked by the researchers, as the time passes the problem sets get more and more complicated. Then the concept of quantum computing came into existence by breaking minds over this limitation as well as a key factor, reliability.
In order to solve this computation limitation, researchers have gone to subatomic level in developing processors. Quantum computers use ‘Qubits’ or quantum bits for manipulating the data. Qubits work differently from normal bits, but yet they are confined to 0 or 1. The measure of 0 or 1 is totally a probabilistic approach. Qubits work on the principle of superposition, in simple words, superposition principle states that a system can exist in both states simultaneously. In other order, the possibilities are 0, 1 or 0 & 1. Qubits are exponentially faster than bits in several computing problems, such as database searches and factoring (which, as we will discuss soon, may break your Internet encryption).
With a single operation, a quantum computer computes the scores of all ²¹⁰⁰ ~= 1⁰³⁰ = one million million million million million configurations at the same time.
In the modern world, these quantum computers have many applications starting with predicting weather, analyzing risk factors in banks, drug design molecules, cryptography and many more. Yet this field is not fully matured, but yes, extensive research is ongoing. Few years from now, there might be super quantum computers you may never know, human brains have no limitations.
This article was a very vague overview about quantum computing without proper introduction to mathematical models or quantum physical models behind quantum computing. Companies like IBM, Microsoft and Google have access to quantum computers, working on them right from your place.
Following are the some links which would give you a insight on quantum computing: