In October 2019, Google AI, in partnership with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), published results demonstrating completion in 200 seconds a task the equivalent of which would take a state-of-the-art supercomputer approximately 10,000 years to complete. The results were published in Nature.

From lab to production

The promise of quantum computing is that some computational tasks might be executed exponentially faster on a quantum computer compared to a classical computer. This year Quantum computing is moving out of the lab and into production.

The combination of quantum computing and AI enables financial, manufacturing, energy, automotive, pharmaceutical, and many other industry sectors to solve some of the most difficult problems not possible using conventional computing.

The need to solve problems beyond what current computing can handle

In the area of pharmaceutical research where scientists want to design a synthetic drug, one of the first steps is to understand the composition of the molecule. Modeling the structure of a molecule such as penicillin, which has 41 atoms, would require a classical computer with more transistors than there are atoms in the observable universe. This is not physical possible. It is possible for quantum computers.

Moore’s law is reaching its end point

Claude Shannon the godfather of computing put a model in place to represent information independent of its physical form using binary digits. The birth of the computer and telecommunication industry as we know it was born. We all are familiar with Moore’s law which states that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, though the cost of computers is halved. Moore’s law proved out over the past three decades, but it is coming to an end as the size of the transistors approach atomic scale.

Quantum computing

Quantum computing is the next advance in computing. It will use a different model to process information. It uses the law of physics to encodes data into bits that can represent a one, a zero, or some combination. The combination is known as a quantum superposition, and bits with these quantum properties are known as qubits. The other property of quantum computing is the ability to link qubits together known as entanglement. Taken together, these and other properties of a quantum computer allows it to perform operations not possible on classical computers.

The reason this is important is that some of the most difficult problems to solve using classical computers has been beyond the reach of even the most advanced supercomputers to date. Conventional computing has its place but combined with quantum computing we expect to see major breakthroughs in heath care, affordable and clean energy, and rapid advances in material development.

IBM leading the way to quantum computing

Dario Gil Director of Research for IBM hosted Andreas Hintennach, Senior Manager for Battery Research at Daimler AG and Vijay Swarup, VP of Research at ExxonMobil Research on the collaboration both companies have begun with IBM Research and the IBM Q System One teams. IBM is currently offering access to the IBM Q via the cloud to developers to facilitate an ecosystem of partners, academic institutions, and startups in the field of quantum computing. Some of the use cases IBM noted for quantum computing include materials to improve battery life, maritime routing optimization, and risk analysis in options pricing.