There is much buzz around quantum computers because they are expected to surpass even the most powerful classic supercomputers in certain calculations — especially handling problems that involve sifting through massive amounts of data. Quantum computers, for example, might be able to find distant habitable planets, the cure for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease or revamp complex airline flight schedules.
Quantum machines offer a different kind of computing power because instead of relying on ones and zeros – or bits – they use qubits, which can be both ones and zeros.
One of the rules of quantum mechanics is that a quantum system can be in more than one state at the same time, meaning it’s not known what a qubit is until it begins to interact with — or entangle — other qubits. Unlike classic computers that operate in a linear or orderly fashion, quantum computers gain their power from qubits working with each other, allowing them to calculate all possibilities at the same time, instead of one by one.
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After decades of research, the first quantum computers are now up and running. The question is: What do we do with them? IBM and D-Wave are trying to cash in on their expensive quantum computers by commercializing services. Both agree that quantum computers are different than PCs and can’t be used to run every application.
Instead, quantum systems will do things not possible on today’s computers, such as discovering new drugs and building molecular structures. Today’s computers are good at finding answers by analyzing information within data sets, but quantum computers can get a wider range of answers by calculating and assuming new data sets.
Quantum computers can be significantly faster and could eventually replace today’s PCs and servers. Quantum computing is one way to advance computing as today’s systems reach their physical and structural limits.
A quantum computer is a computation device that makes direct use of quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform operations on data. Microsoft is offering a quick quantum computing primer that makes the esoteric subject almost understandable. Read more here.