Updated October 2021
What is quantum computing
Quantum computing refers to computing technology based on the principles of quantum theory, a theory of matter and energy based on the concept of quantum mechanics. Mechanics is a fundamental theory in quantum physics that describes nature at the smallest scales of energy levels of atoms and subatomic particles. Quantum computing is based on quantum-mechanical phenomena such as superposition and entanglement.
What are qubits?
To understand how quantum computing works, we must go back to Schrödinger’s famous cat experiment. Schrödinger’s cat experiment was a thought experiment that presents a fictional cat that may be simultaneously both alive and dead—a state known as a quantum superposition—as a result of being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur. Quantum systems can exist in multiple states simultaneously until observed or measured. Quantum computers contain quantum bits or qubits that follow a similar principle. Each qubit exists in a quantum superposition of 0 and 1 until it is measured. It is the development of these qubits that has led to the ability of quantum computers to compute large amounts of data and achieve previously unattainable levels of computing efficiency! For now, the creation of qubits and maintaining their existence long enough to complete computations is the challenge.
Quantum & software development – how computing will define the future
It has taken us over 50 years of advances in mathematics, materials science, and computer science to make quantum computing a reality. Today, quantum computers can be accessed via the cloud, and thousands of scientists are using them to conduct research and solve new problems. It is thought that artificial intelligence is the future of software development; in actuality, it is quantum computing that has provided many breakthroughs in AI and the optimization of complex systems, materials, and drug discovery across many disciplines. Currently, quantum computing is being used in diverse fields such as finance, healthcare, aerospace, environmental sciences, and more. With the help of quantum computing, scientists are now able to create far more accurate models than traditional computing and software could ever do.
Who is investing in quantum computing?
Lately there has been a lot of interest in quantum computing research by countries from across the globe. According to an article in the Economist, in 2016, non-classified national investments in quantum computing amounted to about $1.75 billion. The EU led the list with $643 million, followed by the USA ($421 million), China ($257 million), Germany ($140 million), Britain ($123 million), and Canada ($117 million). There are twenty other countries that invested at least $10 million each. The number of quantum computing–related patent applications is also on the uptick. According to Thomson Innovation, the USA led with 295 applications, followed by Canada (79), Japan (78), Great Britain (36), and China (29).
Technology firms such as IBM and Google are investing heavily in quantum computing. They have made free tools that allow users to get actual time on a quantum computer.
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