CEO Sundar Pichai made an announcement on Wednesday that their quantum processor was able to compute a previously impossible problem. And, soon after the press release, IBM released a blog article describing the milestone as a mere showcase but not actual quantum supremacy. It was described that with this feat, Google’s quantum computer is now able to prove that quantum computing has taken its baby steps.
Their in-house project called Sycamore started development years ago and scientist was trying to come up with a problem to test its performance. In comparison to the world’s fastest supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Lab, called the Titan, the quantum computer solved the problem in mere 2 minutes and a few seconds. This would take more than 10,000 years on the Titan, Google claimed. Now, what is this technology about?
Here is a Peek at Quantum Computing
As opposed to traditional computing with 0 and 1, utilizing 2 bits to store a piece of information, a quantum computer uses the theory of quantum mechanics. In this subject, a topic called “quantum entanglement” brings forth the nature of the calculations and algorithm to solve the problem. The quantum processor is made of bits that do not have just 2 states, but more than that. And, these are occupied at the same time. This is where things get very weird.
A quantum bit or Qubit can store not just 0 and 1 but also a range of interstates between the two numbers. And, thus it increases the information-carrying capacity of a bit. The quantum computer used by Google was programmed to use 53 of such Qubits to solve the posed problem..com
The Scrutiny on the Claim
The problem comes when they claimed to have achieved the so-called “quantum supremacy” that the whole operation was put under scrutiny by IBM, their tech rival. IBM has invested heavily in supercomputers like Summit and its own quantum computer. It mentioned in a detailed blog post that the term quantum supremacy was defined by a physicist named John Preskil who described it as a feat when a computer can solve a problem that is impossible by using a classical computer.
IBM argues that the time projected by Google to be 10,000 years is under 3 days actually and they had programmed it in a bad way to show that number. In essence, it depends largely on how you have programmed the problem into the supercomputer that the time can be estimated.
To cut things into deep grooves, IBM and Google have been trying to build the first real quantum computer and achieving quantum supremacy is a big deal for either of them. If a computer can show enough success, then real prototypes of quantum computers using superconducting technology can be built to solve real-world problems.
Since the time of Einstein, the quantum entanglement has been proposed and studied to prove it under lab-controlled environment. Today, scientists are still debating over the matter conducting more experiments and publishing results.