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Google’s Sycamore quantum computer has achieved ‘quantum supremacy’

Google says that it has managed to achieve “quantum supremacy, ” a major milestone when it comes to the development of quantum computers. Google The company posted the achievement in a paper posted on NASA’s website which was later removed, according to the Financial Times.

The paper was entitled “Quantum supremacy using a programmable superconducting processor,” and detailed what Google says is the first computation that can only be performed on a quantum processor. The Financial Times was able to read the paper prior to it being removed.

Quantum computing is essentially the next big leap in computing power. Previously theoretical, it’s quickly becoming a reality — and quantum computers could make your current PC seem like a graphing calculator.

The computation in question had a quantum computer solve a calculation that proved the randomness of numbers that were produced by a random number generator. The computer was able to handle the task in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. In contrast, that same computation would take the world’s fastest supercomputer roughly 10,000 years to complete.

That “quantum supremacy” accolade is because the computer is able to achieve something that would take a classic computer much, much longer to complete.

“This dramatic speedup relative to all known classical algorithms provides an experimental realization of quantum supremacy on a computational task and heralds the advent of a much-anticipated computing paradigm,” the paper reportedly said.

Google’s computer, called Sycamore, has 54 entailed superconducting qubits, only 53 of which were reportedly working during the test. Still, it was able to achieve quantum supremacy.

Despite the achievement, many experts say that it’s a bit too early to celebrate. While Sycamore might have been successful at performing this one task, it was likely trained to handle that task, meaning that it wouldn’t be as successful at other ones that it wasn’t trained to handle.

Google isn’t the only company currently working on quantum computing.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January of this year IBM announced the first commercially-available quantum computer. Called “IBM Q System One,” the computer is about the size of a van. You can’t actually buy the physical computer though — instead, the company is making the computer’s computing power available over the cloud.

The IBM System One is a 20-qubit machine and is currently housed at IBM’s Q Computation Center in Poughkeepsie, New York.

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Emily Price
Emily is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. Her book "Productivity Hacks: 500+ Easy Ways to Accomplish More at…
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