Q is for quantum computing

This post is part of a series, “Digital: From A to Z,” that explores what it means to be digital. What’s in your A to Z of digital? Find me on Twitter @Max_Hemingway or leave a comment below.

Quantum computer: A computer which makes use of the quantum states of subatomic particles to store information. (Source: English Oxford Dictionary)

Although still in its infancy, there have already been huge developments in the field of quantum computing, and predictions are showing a mass market in the future: quantum computing market will reach $10.7 billion by 2024‎.

Today’s computers make use of transistors to compute binary states (on/off, 1/0), whereas quantum computers are based on quantum-mechanical phenomena, superposition and entanglement. See a colleague’s post, “Through the looking-glass: Quantum computing 101,” for an explanation of these.

So what is special about quantum computers? It’s their ability to compute data at an exponential rate, allowing for quick computing of complex data. This is boosting the abilities of Machine Learning and AI to quickly deliver results and allow for greater computations to take place.

The measure of quantum information is called a qubit (the quantum version of the binary bit). Google already has a 20-qubit processor in test and is working on higher speeds. There have already been large systems capable of 2,000 qubits (with a cost of around £15 million for the system). Higher qubit counts are expected as developments continue by the industry. MIT is looking at how ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing.

The applications for business and industry are vast, with the ability to process information quickly, provide predictive analytics and machine learning, tackle cyber threats, and provide a system for AI.

It will be a while before quantum computing becomes fully mainstream, with some analysts predicting this around 2025. In the meantime, there are advancements in existing computer methods with companies making new developments around Machine Learning and AI. For example: “Google says its custom machine learning chips are often 15-30x faster than GPUs and CPUs.

Join me next time as I look at “R is for robots” in my Digital A-Z series.  See my last post, P is for programming.

This entry was originally posted in Max’s blog.


Max Hemingway — Senior Architect

Max is a senior architect for DXC in the United Kingdom. With more than 25 years of experience, he has a broad and deep range of technical knowledge and is able to translate business needs into IT-based solutions. Currently the chief architect of the BAE Systems account in the UK, Max has a proven track record acquired through continual client engagement and delivery of leading edge infrastructures, all of which have delivered positive results for end-clients, including IT cost reduction, expansion of service capability and increased revenues.

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