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Google may have taken the first step towards "supremacy" on the quantum computer



According to Google, Sycamore, its 53-qubit quantum computer, was able to compute a proof in three minutes and 20 seconds that shows that the numbers generated by a random number generator are actually random. Theoretically, Summit, the world's most powerful supercomputer, would take about 10,000 years to solve the same problem ̵

1; and it would be virtually impossible to prove it was a conventional computer. "To our knowledge, this experiment is the first calculation that can only be done with a quantum processor," wrote the authors of the paper.

Already, however, Google's claim has sparked controversy. In an interview with FT Dario Gil, head of research at IBM, said the company's claim was "unreasonable – it's just wrong." He went on to say that Sycamore does not pass the litmus test for a general-purpose quantum computer because it was developed to solve a specific problem. Part of the topic is the term "quantum supremacy". It was coined in 2012 by the theoretical physicist John Preskill and is intended to denote the moment when a quantum computer is created that can perform calculations that even the most powerful supercomputers can not perform. In a highly competitive area such as the quantum computer, the first research team to claim the supremacy of quantum computing is a big deal. According to an anonymous source with whom FT spoke, the team writing the paper was reluctant to use the term because it fears that it would turn out to be arrogant.

Other computer scientists were less critical of the breakthrough. Daniel Lidar, Professor of Engineering at the University of Southern California, told FT (19459005) that the company had "demonstrated a path to scalable quantum computing." Whether you define what Google could achieve with Sycamore as a quantum computer or not is, in a sense, unimportant. Crucial is that the company could solve some complex problems on the way to the full quantum computer. We may be years away from using quantum computers to change our daily lives, but Google's achievement marks an important first step.


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