How does quantum computing work?

Published on February 12, 2018 by Andrej Kudriavcev

Quantum computing is currently 100 million times faster than your laptop. This technology could be the biggest technological advance we have seen since the invention of the PC.

Big data often requires huge processing resources to product machine learning results. Advantage Data has worked with some data sets that take months to produce a modelling result even using cloud technology. Quantum computing has the potential to change all this!

How does this differ to a regular PC or cloud based technology?

Without getting too technical, traditional processors, even cloud based ones, turn data into binary digits (bits) which is either a 0 or a 1. Quantum computing is much faster at processing data because instead of turning data into regular bits it turns the data into a quantum bit (qbit). The qbits are tiny particles suspended in temperatures just above absolute zero. Making use of quantum physics, these qubits can simultaneously hold values of 1, 0, or both, rather than being set to 1 or 0 as is the case with traditional bits.

How much faster are we talking?

Google have been doing some testing around quantum computing speeds. They have suggested that the current batch of quantum computers are about 100 million times faster than your laptop. This is just the beginning as well!  Although this technology is not available to the general public just yet, there are some machines available on the cloud that make use of quantum computing.

The more qbits (sometimes known as qubits) that are added the faster the system will run. However, there is a caveat that the error rate can increases with the more qubits that are added, because qubits interact with one another and the more you add the great the chance for errors. So the trick is to add qubits but keep the error rate low and that’s where most of the research is focused. IBM and Amazon are leading the way. IBM will have a 50 qubits machine available shortly and they claim that have achieved this without increasing the error rate from the current 20 qubits machine.

It’s probably a poor comparison to compare this new technology with a laptop, but from the experiments we have run, the speed is significantly faster than even the most well optimised cloud based solutions.

Do I need a quantum computing?

For most AI/Machine learning applications, you will not need quantum computing it will be complete overkill and it will come at a significant cost. But if your dataset is struggling after you have tried cloud based technology, which is fully optimised, then quantum computing can be a possible answer. In time, quantum computing will become the norm and replace binary computers. Common applications now are weather forecasting, financial predictions, chemical analysis etc.

A word of warning, faster computing using traditional digital computers is usually more possible by optimising code and cloud based technology. We provide this consultancy service as a starting point when looking at data sets that are struggling.

 Can I setup a quantum computer?

The answer to this question is yes, but it will come at a cost! We have worked with several quantum computing applications. Most of the applications we have setup are based on the cloud. Contact us and we can provide a preliminary assessment of your quantum computing needs. It might be that we can better optimise your existing code, or you might need to look at QP as a solution.