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Quantum Computing Roadmap

Princeton University_042022A
[Princeton University]

Future of Quantum Computing: Unlocking the Possibilities

- Overview

The future of quantum computing is here. As quantum computing progresses rapidly, it will have a major impact on the future of computing. Quantum computers could change the way we think about computing, exponentially increasing processing speeds and allowing access to data that was previously inaccessible.

Quantum computing is both the present and the future. Unlike classical computing, which uses bits to represent data and perform operations, quantum computing uses quantum bits (qubits), which can exist in multiple states with a certain probability (called superposition). This would allow quantum computers to perform certain types of calculations faster than classical computers. 

While it's still a nascent technology, significant progress has been made in the field in recent years. Quantum computers have already been built and are used by researchers and companies for a variety of tasks, such as optimization problems and simulations of quantum systems. 

Overall, the future of quantum computing is bright, with the potential to revolutionize fields from medicine to finance to cybersecurity. Even so, quantum computing may not be widely available and practical in the real world for several years.


- Why Do We Need Quantum Computing?

Quantum computers, sometimes called probabilistic or nondeterministic computers, are considered the most important computing technology of this century. It is a computing marvel that harnesses the natural world to produce machines with powerful processing potential. Our world and reality itself is quantum. Real-world quantum systems cannot be modeled on classical computers. 

Today's digital technologies are basically arithmetic devices that perform mathematical operations. We benefit greatly from computing in all its forms. Computers are very important in our life. Hardware and software are what keep each object functioning properly. However, they have some limitations, which is why we need quantum computers. 

Although the name sounds complicated, it is not difficult to define. It is a machine that uses the properties of quantum physics to store data and perform computations. They perform calculations, just like the processors you find everywhere from your smartphone to your smartwatch. The difference, however, is that quantum computers are much more powerful than classical computers. 

Classical computers encode information in binary bits. Computers use binary signals to process data. Data is represented as 1 or 0. A bit is a relatively simple state that represents one result or another, for example, a switch can be on or off. Sequences of 0s and 1s give us a lot of computing power. 

The longer the processing time, the more computing power is required. However, despite all the processing advances, traditional computing devices still face challenging tasks. Our current machines are inaccurate because electrons orbiting atoms are in superposition in the real world. 

Our current computers cannot calculate probabilities because electrons exist in more than one state at the same time. Quantum computers can take advantage of the fact that they operate using superposition. Superposition is a characteristic of subatomic particles such as electrons and photons that can exist in two different states at the same time.  

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[Quantum Compusting vs. Classical Computing - CBInsights]

-  The Challenge of Quantum Computing

One of the main problems facing quantum computers today is that entangled qubits quickly become incoherent relative to other qubits. Therefore, algorithms need to do their work quickly before the qubits become incoherent. 

Currently, most quantum computers can only keep a few dozen qubits coherent. A recent study showed that cosmic rays introduce a series of decoherence errors that are difficult to correct using standard error correction techniques.  This results in our inability to represent meaningful real-life problems on quantum computers. 

Also, there is no uniformity in the underlying quantum computing hardware. Currently, companies are looking at different ways to build quantum computers -- for example, Quantum Annealer, Analog Quantum Computer, and Universal Quantum Computer. This is very similar to our multiple transistor designs in the early days of computing. Therefore, only certain problems can be efficiently mapped onto specific types of underlying quantum computing hardware. 

Research is underway to solve the decoherence problem and design a universal quantum computer, and we are still about few years away from solving meaningful problems on a quantum computer. At the same time, we anticipate deploying quantum computers and classical computers in a hybrid fashion to provide computational efficiency.


- How Quantum Computers are Deployed

The promise of quantum computing is that it will help us solve certain types of problems that today's classical computers cannot solve in a reasonable amount of time.

Quantum computing has captured the imagination of many business executives. By promising to solve problems that classical computers cannot reasonably solve, the right combination of quantum hardware and software can lead to competitive advantages, new revenue streams, cost reductions, and other bottom-line benefits.

Quantum computers require custom hardware; today, only large hyperscalers and a handful of hardware companies offer quantum computer simulators and quantum computers of limited size as cloud services. 

Quantum computers are currently targeting problems that are computationally intensive and latency-insensitive. Furthermore, today's quantum computer architectures are not mature enough to handle large amounts of data. Therefore, in many cases, quantum computers are often deployed in a hybrid fashion with classical computers. 

Although a quantum computer itself doesn't consume much power during computations, it requires specialized cryogenic refrigerators to keep superconducting temperatures low.


- Moving Quantum Computers to Production

As with other frontier technologies, companies are approaching quantum computing in different ways. Some companies have taken a wait-and-see approach, accepting the calculated risk that they may have to play catch-up at high speed in a year or two. 

In other cases, interested individuals have explored quantum computing as amateur skunkworks work, then successfully persuaded their managers to turn their work into an official project rather than a secret one. 

Still others have embraced quantum computing from the top, setting up exploratory teams and tasking them with building internal quantum capabilities and identifying relevant use cases. Once identified, the companies selected several use cases for proof-of-concept projects. 

Now that some of these proof-of-concepts have been successfully completed, companies are starting to consider possible production deployments of quantum solutions.


<More to come ..>


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