On Friday, the Financial Times published from the UK reported that a draft research paper claimed Google researchers have achieved a long-sought-after goal in physics called “quantum supremacy”. The paper had appeared on the NASA website and was then pulled down, but the FT had retrieved a copy.
Quantum supremacy refers to a quantum computer solving a problem that cannot be expected of a classical computer in a normal lifetime. This relates to the speed at which a quantum computer performs.
According to reports about the vanished draft paper, said to have been written by scientists at Google and the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab collaboration that includes NASA researchers, the quantum processor took 200 seconds to perform a calculation that the world’s fastest supercomputer, Summit, would have taken 10,000 years to accomplish.
The draft paper is believed to be an early version of a paper that has been submitted to a scientific journal. What differentiates a quantum computer from a traditional computer is the way the two store information.
The former stores information in the form of bits that can take only two values, zero or one, whereas a quantum computer stores it in the form of quantum bits (qubits) that can take on various combinations of zero and one.
The phrase “quantum supremacy” was coined in 2011 by John Preskill, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology in a talk he delivered on the benefits of using quantum hardware over traditional computers.
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