In the early 20th century, quantum theory was researched as a mathematical concept to explain subatomic particles (think atoms and molecules), and how they act.
This created advancements in physics and chemistry, and brought us technological discoveries, such as the laser and electronic semiconductors, such as transistors.
The study of quantum theory eventually led to the understanding of logical operations used in a computer.
During a 1981 conference hosted by IBM and MIT, the late theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman insisted to those in attendance, the importance of constructing a quantum computer.
In 1982, IBM began its research into universal quantum computers.
Some of you might be saying, “OK, what is a quantum computer and what can it do?”
The short answer is, we won’t really know its full potential and applications until we build one and run the applications currently being coded for it.
Today’s computers, even super computers, are based on logical operations using binary digits of “1 and 0,” with “1” being in an on state and a “0” being in an off state.
My experience taught me a “1” shows a voltage potential and a “0” shows no voltage.
The physical circuitry comprised of various logical “gates” within a computer, operates in an “off and on” process, depending on the input to each logical gate.
An individual binary bit is in one logical state at a time; either a “1” or “0.”
The next generation of computing will be using quantum bits, or qubits.
From what I have read, so-called “pure qubits” will act in all logical states simultaneously, meaning, grouped qubits have the potential - as some believe – for almost unlimited computing power.
Consider this, you’re holding four playing cards; one queen and three aces. The cards are shuffled and individually placed face-down on a table.
How would you pick out the queen?
You would take a guess, and then another, and then another until you found the queen.
Quantum computing would pick out the queen on the first try.
Now, what if our choices were to pick one unique card out of a 100,000, or a 100,000,000,000?
A properly designed and engineered quantum computer would still pick out the correct choice on the first try.
Yes, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around understanding all of this, too.
The main thing to take away from this is recognizing how qubit processors will be the game changer in future next-generation supercomputing.
IBM is working on building a universal quantum computing system.
Their first quantum processor contained five qubits.
IBM’s next quantum computer simulator is capable of handling 20 qubits.
It is hoped new “quantum applications” can be developed by engineers and scientists with in-depth understanding and expertise in quantum physics ,and be used for science, discovering new medicines, and business, creating new materials, space, analytics, and every other field one can think of.
All of you students out there studying STEM or STEAM, can be part of this exciting future of the next generation, ultra-supercomputing using quantum processing power.
Future quantum computers will also be used for improving artificial intelligence’s reasoning abilities and processing speed.
“IBM will sell 50 qubit universal quantum computers “in the next few years,” stated a March 6 tweet on the IBM Research Twitter feed.
This quantum computer will have the capacity to perform complex calculations at speeds today’s fastest supercomputers on the planet could never reach.
Their first commercially available quantum computer will be called the IBM Q.
IBM Research announced it is allowing access to its Advanced Quantum Processor, via the cloud, to not only scientists, but also to the public.
“Today, we’re laying the foundation by inviting anyone interested to create algorithms and run experiments on IBM’s quantum processor, play with individual quantum bits (qubits), learn about quantum computing through tutorials and simulations, and get inspired by the possibilities of a quantum computer,” IBM stated on their company blog.
This shortened link will take you to IBM’s quantum computer research page: http://ibm.co/2lNwrk0.
Begin your own “Quantum Experience” by checking out IBM’s webpage link, where you can run your own quantum programs, watch video, learn about qubits, and see simulations of what quantum computing can do using IBM’s public quantum processor at http://ibm.co/2m2cxTk.
IBM plans to release a full SDK (Software Development Kit) on the IBM Quantum Experience for developers this year.
I am paraphrasing Richard Feynman, when during the 1981 MIT/IBM conference he said; “Nature is quantum, and if you want to simulate nature, you better build a quantum computer.”
Much appreciation to IBM Research for their permission to me in using the photo of quantum computing scientists Hanhee Paik, and Sarah Sheldon working on the IBM Q quantum computer’s “dilution fridge.”
Follow me as I make quantum leaps through Twitter at @bitsandbytes.