Quantum Computing 101

IBM Q System One/ image courtesy-IBM

Quantum computing is centered around the concept of developing computers based on the principles of quantum theory. In simple terms, quantum theory explains the behavior pattern of matter and energy and asserts that energy consists of discrete particles and not one continuous wave, and the movement of the particles are quite random and unpredictable.

Quantum computers can run tasks on a combination of 0s and 1s at the same time. A quantum computer makes use of the quantum mechanics concepts such as superposition, entanglement, and quantum interference to solve complex problems with faster speeds and consume fewer resources when compared to a classical supercomputer. Quantum computers follow the principles of quantum algorithms which creates multidimensional spaces where individual data points form patterns and help in solving complex problems. In the case of classical computers, they cannot form these patterns as they are not able to create such computational spaces.

The basic unit of information in quantum computing is called a qubit and plays quite a similar to bits in classical computing. However, they completely differ in behavior as classical bits can only hold states of 0s and 1s whereas, qubits can hold a superposition of all possible states. A typical quantum computer consists of three parts — memory(that holds the state), processor(that executes or performs all the computation), and some form of input/output(that sets the initial state and extracts the final state).

Quantum computing has tremendous potential and is expected to help solve the world's complex problems in the field of machine learning, manufacturing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, supply chain, optimization, portfolio and risk management, automobile industry, etc. Quantum computing is expected to completely transform the research ecosystem, especially in the field of protein folding and chemical reactions. A few top companies that have heavily invested in quantum computing include IBM, Microsoft, Rigetti, QCI, Xanadu, Honeywell, Toshiba, Intel, etc.

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