Microsoft: What is quantum computing?
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Microsoft: What is quantum computing?


My name is Leo Kouwenhoven, I’m a Director here in Delft
for the Microsoft Quantum Lab, where we develop
a topological quantum computer. Quantum is a theory that describes
how small particles behave, and by ‘small particles’ I mean atoms. For instance,
two atoms glue together and form a molecule, and the glue
that keeps these two atoms together is, as far as we understand,
only described by quantum theory. We don’t have any other theory
that describes how atoms behave. The glue between atoms is actually very interesting,
and funny, and counterintuitive. What happens in the glue is that we have two atoms
and one extra electron. That extra electron could sit,
for instance, on one atom or the other atom,
but it doesn’t. What it actually does,
it sits on both atoms simultaneously, at the same time. This is what we call a ‘superposition’: one electron that sits on two atoms
at the same time. There are many things in nature that we only understand
because of this superposition. This includes,
“Why is grass green?” We only understand colours
because of those superpositions. Or photosynthesis:
that light in a green leaf is by some chemical process
converted into, in the end, oxygen. It releases oxygen. These are quantum mechanical processes
that make use of superpositions in order for this light particle to be converted,
after some complicated process, into an oxygen molecule. In a classical computer we’re not using these superpositions. We’re encoding information
in zeros and ones but there’s no such thing as encoding information
in superpositions of zeros and ones. With classical computers
we can do many things, but not those quantum things. The classical computer
is a very ill-built machine for solving quantum problems. What is a quantum problem? As I said, everything on Earth is glued together by superpositions. If we want to do something
that helps us in using our natural resources
more efficiently, or curing our bodies
from a disease, we’re usually invoking
some chemical process, like you take a pill. That pill does something chemical
in your body, and you hope that you recover
from your illness. At the moment, we don’t know
how to compute these processes. We don’t know how to predict
or simulate processes in nature or in biological systems, so we just try
and see if it works or not. The method is trial and error. If we would have
a quantum computer in hand, then we can use it
to help solving those problems at a very fundamental level. If you want
to make a battery to save some energy, how do we actually store energy at the level
of atoms and molecules? Can we do that and retrieve
all the energy out of the battery with 100% efficiency. There still are fundamental questions
with respect to quantum computing. Nobody has ever made before a large-scale,
controllable quantum system. At the moment, we don’t know what a quantum computer can do
on a large scale. We know a certain set of problems where quantum computers
will be revolutionary. Problems that are impossible to solve
with classical computers will be solved on a quantum computer, but to predict what it can do
on a large scale, at this moment that’s too early still. We’re still learning what all the applications
of quantum computer can be. We’re are at the very beginning. Let’s say we’re in the 1980s
for the Internet. Who knows what the Internet
is going to bring us?

5 Comments

  • ayyappa swami

    Quantum computers came because of the development in Quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics founder was Niels Bohr. Niels Bohr got inspiration to create Quantum mechanics is from Cubic art. The art movement of jean metzinger is called cubism. Jean Metzinger new concept of Cubism in art came from his new way of thinking. Because in early 1900 photographs and cameras are came into existence. So painters need a new kind of art to survive. So, what we understand now is, the need of our existence lead us to create new kind of things, now like Quantum Computers.

  • 146maxpain

    Problem with Leo Kouwenhoven is that he himself is pre-internet. Back in the day when you did a study like his you were screwwed when you didn't get a definition.

  • Amanda Zen

    Ik hoop dat Kouwenhoven/team een praktijkvoorbeeld kunnen laten zien die aantoont dat het ook werkelijk inzetbaar is. En daarmee weer wat geld losmaken om dat te ontwikkelen. Ik heb er niet veel verstand van maar hoe kun je het majoranadeeltje vangen, zodat je er informatie in kunt stoppen en extraheren? Zou dat met een staande golf kunnen van electrongaten? Want electronen stromen natuurlijk. Even nog wat verder zoeken, moeilijke materie.
    En nog iets. Is het ook in te zetten voor de research van kernfusie? Je zou zeggen dat beide iets gemeenschappelijks hebben. Supergeleiding, magnetisch veld of afwezigheid ervan. Gevangen materie, koppelen van electron/majorana en fusie van protonen. Energieproductie/afwezigheid.
    En nog iets. Kun je ai inzetten door het te koppelen aan qubits. En het er mee laten spelen. Het laten leren door de gebruikelijke manier zoals alpha zero. Zodat je een gewenste uitkomst krijgt. En dan het aantal qubits te verhogen? Ik laat maar een ballonnetje op.

  • Amanda Zen

    Hier wordt ai ingezet om een Tokamak fusie-reactor in bedwang te houden. Dus quantum-computer niet nodig. Maar misschien zou de q-computer alle supercomputers kunnen vervangen en alles sneller kunnen. En misschien life en zuiniger.
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190417153611.htm

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