Newswise — Google announced Wednesday an experimental quantum processor completed a calculation in just a few minutes, a process that would take a traditional supercomputer thousands of years.

Peter McMahon, professor of applied and engineering physics, researches the physics of computation and how physical systems can be engineered to perform computation in new ways. He says the discovery opens the door for applications in physics, chemistry and materials science.


McMahon says:

“Google’s results from their Sycamore processor represents a remarkable milestone in the field of quantum computing: for the first time, a fully programmable quantum computer has been built at a scale and quality that it can perform some computations much faster than a classical supercomputer.

“This is an exciting time for everyone working in the field – both on the hardware and on the theory/algorithms side. We have seen rapid developments in hardware over the past few years, and these advances have spurred great interest in what one can achieve in practice with noisy, intermediate-scale quantum computers.

“A natural question is what Google’s quantum computer will be useful for beyond Google’s landmark proof-of-principle experiment. In this experiment, the computer solved a rather abstract task of simulating the output of a random quantum circuit. It has already been shown that this abstract task can be useful for generating random numbers that are certifiably random.

Beyond this, it seems likely that near-term quantum computers will be useful for realizing at least parts of the original use-case for quantum computers from physicist Richard Feynman: that of simulating quantum systems, which has applications in physics, chemistry, and materials science. How far this can be pushed is an open – and exciting – question.”

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