Google claims to have achieved quantum supremacy with new computer but not everyone is convinced
The achievement could open up a lot of avenues, from helping design better and lighter spacecraft to creating more efficient batteries and fertilizers.
Building a quantum computer is no easy feat. But Google claims to have made its foray into the quantum world by building a quantum computer that could beat the world's most powerful computer. This achievement could open up a lot of avenues, from helping design better and lighter spacecraft to creating more efficient batteries and fertilizers.
The quantum computer, they say, solved a complex problem in little over three minutes. On the other hand, to perform the same task, the world's most powerful supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee would take over 10,000 years, they add. The study claiming quantum supremacy was published in Nature on October 23.
While classic computers perform calculations with bits, which is either a 0 or 1, quantum computers perform the same in qubits, which can be both 0 and 1.
For this, Google built its processor called Sycamore, with support from NASA. Talking about the achievement, Eugene Tu, center director at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, in a press release, said, "Quantum computing is still in its infancy, but this transformative achievement rockets us forward.” Tu said, “Our missions in the decades to come to the Moon, Mars and beyond are all fueled by innovations like this one.”
Google's milestone created a lot of buzz and excitement. "It's an impressive device and certainly an impressive milestone. We're still decades away from an actual quantum computer that would be able to solve problems we're interested in", Prof Jonathan Oppenheim, from UCL, who was not involved with the latest study, told BBC News.
This isn't brand new information. The news about Google's quantum supremacy surfaced in September when the report was accidentally leaked on NASA's website. This gave IBM sufficient time to mull over the report.
In a blog, they pointed out that they were not convinced of Google's quantum supremacy claim. According to them, the Oak Ridge National Lab could take two and a half days or less to do the job, depending on how it was programmed. Google, they add, can claim quantum supremacy only when it is beyond the scope of a classical computer.
Responding to IBM's rebuttal, two of Google scientists said, “We’re looking forward to when people actually run the idea on Summit and check it and check our data because that’s part of the scientific process – not just proposing it but actually running it and checking it”, said John Martinis. “At the same time, we’ll be making our quantum computers better.” We can’t be sure that IBM’s algorithm actually works until it is properly tested, he added.
“Even with the two-day possibility they have to run this, it still takes longer than the 200 seconds we say it should take, so we’re still in the quantum supremacy regime”, said Martinis, as reported by NewScientist.