Quantum computing is the future of technology. It is expected to spur many breakthroughs in the fields of science, medicine, finance, and much more. If it became a reality, it could transform the world of cryptography. From using machine learning to diagnose illnesses to creating more efficient financial strategies, quantum computing is bound to revolutionize industries.
Quantum computers harness the laws of quantum mechanics to process information. They are fundamentally different from classical computers. Traditional computers operate on long strings of bits, encoding either a zero or a one. On the other hand, quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits, which can exist as zero or one or both simultaneously. The qubits exist in an indeterminate state because of the property of superposition.
Quantum computers are programmed using various kinds of logic gates. But these programs need to run fast enough to ensure that the qubits don’t lose their coherence. The combination of superposition and entanglement is the driving function of these computers.
While the ordinary bits exist as zero or one, the qubits have a probability of existing as zero or one. This probability is measured and until then they are in an indeterminate state. This adds complexity to the computational powers of a quantum computer.
Superposition is the combination of value along all three axes to describe a qubit’s state. It is the ability of a quantum system to exist in multiple states at the same time. This phenomenon enables a quantum computer to try multiple paths at once.
Entanglement is the real magic behind the fascinating technology of quantum computing. It refers to the extremely strong correlation that exists between quantum particles. The entanglement is so strong that two or more particles can be inseparably linked in perfect unison. They are so intrinsically connected that they remain in unison even when placed at opposite ends of the universe. Einstein euphemistically called this seemingly impossible connection, “spooky action at a distance”.
A quantum computer can process a vast number of operations simultaneously. Many tasks that were thought impossible for classical computers have been achieved efficiently by quantum computers. They can also factor large numbers, which is not possible for traditional computers. Factoring large numbers forms the basis of present-day cryptography, RSA encryption, credit cards, and online shopping.
These futuristic computers are taking such a long time to develop due to multiple reasons, mainly because it is difficult to isolate and maintain the stability of qubits.
One method used to maintain a quantum state is superconductivity. This requires keeping qubits controlled at temperatures close to absolute zero for extended periods of time. Any heat can induce errors in the system.
This limits the flexibility of programmers in performing operations. They also need to run programs many times due to the high error rates.
Also, it’s not easy to implement entanglement into hardware.
While there are quantum computers in existence already, they are still in an uncooperative and insufficient stage. They are not yet ready to replace classical computers for at least another 10 years, according to experts. However, they are commercially available.
Many practical discoveries have been made related to quantum computing but a fully-functional quantum computer is still years away.