Google has claimed a few days ago that an advanced computer achieved “quantum supremacy” for the first time. This means that it has far surpassed the performance of conventional devices.
The company said its Sycamore quantum processor was able to perform in 200 seconds a task that would take any of the best supercomputers out there 10,000 years to complete.
For its part, IBM, which itself has been working on quantum computers, disputed some of the figures shared by Google. Many scientists have been working in this field for decades, since they promise extremely fast speeds.
Google’s quantum supremacy – is this true?
To begin to break down the topic of quantum supremacy, let’s start by understanding that, for example, in classical computers, the unit of information is known as a “bit”, which can have a value of 1 or 0. But in a quantum system, its equivalent is the cubit (quantum bit), which can be 1 and 0 but at the same time.
Therefore, it is necessary to understand that this phenomenon opens a door in which multiple calculations can be carried out simultaneously. But the cubits must synchronize using a quantum effect known as entanglement, which Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.”
According to a paper published in the journal Nature, Google’s John Martinis and his colleagues posed a random sampling problem to Sycamore. In this one, he had to verify a set of numbers that were randomly distributed.
Sycamore, contains 54 cubits, but one of them did not work. Even so, the task was completed in 3 minutes and 20 seconds and the researchers claim that Summit, the world’s best supercomputer, would take 10,000 years to complete this task.
However, IBM doubts some of the data published by Google, which is why the company’s researchers Edwin Pednault, John Gunnels and Jay Gambetta commented in a blog post:
“We argue that an ideal simulation of the same task can be performed on a classical system in 2.5 days and with much higher fidelity.”
They further added:
“This is, in fact, a conservative estimate for the worst-case scenario and we expect that with additional improvements the classical simulation cost can be further reduced.”
In addition, IBM questioned Google’s definition of “quantum supremacy” on the grounds that this could lead to confusion:
“First, because by its strictest definition, the goal was not met. But, also, because quantum computers will never reign ‘supreme’ over classical computers, but will work alongside them, as each has its unique strengths.”
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