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Quantum Computing 101


Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:00


Quantum Computing is one of our focus areas along with artificial intelligence (AI), Robotics, and Medical Technology as we see great potential for the technology in Singapore. But what exactly is Quantum Technology? Here, we give you an introduction to the world of quantum computing.

What is Quantum Technology?

Quantum technologies explicitly leverage specific properties of quantum physics. These include phenomena like entanglement, superposition, tunnelling and interference, which are sometimes completely counter-intuitive to our experience of the world around us. As it turns out, the closer we look at the physical world, the stranger things get.

One of the major emerging applications in quantum technologies, and probably the most talked about, is quantum computing. Quantum computers, very much not like your laptop, are built to leverage the properties of quantum physics.

If we take a 4-bit classical or a normal system as a reference, each of the 4-bits has two possible states – 1 and 0. Each can be represented one at a time. Taken together as a system, this represents 2^4 or 16 possible configurations.

For qubit quantum computer, on the other hand, because of superposition, they can be in both of these states – 1 and 0 – at the same time. This means that each qubit can centrally have two states at once. If we entangle each of the qubits together, it means we intertwine the relation of other states. This gives us a 2^4 or 16 possible configurations. But they can be represented all at the same time.

For a specific problem that may have 16 possible outcomes, our classical computer will run through these outcomes one at a time, whereas, our quantum computer will simulate each of the 16 configurations simultaneously.

It quickly becomes apparent how quantum computers may be useful and why companies like Google, IBM, Honeywell and Intel, along with startups like Horizon Quantum Computing in Singapore, led by well known physicists, are putting a lot of time, effort and money into the development of quantum computers. The real value isn’t so much that they will be able to solve problems faster than classical computers but that they will ultimately be able to solve problems that are just too complex for classical systems. These include problems in drug, materials and chemicals discovery; optimisation problems in logistics and finance; as well as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Given the revolution in computation that quantum computing has the potential to bring, it is easy to see why there is so much excitement around it. But when we start to talk about when a commercially available full-scale universal quantum computer will be available, we are back in a state of quantum uncertainty. It may be ten years or more before one of these systems exist. Fortunately, there remains real potential to solve high-value problems with more near term systems. Who is working on these problems, what these systems are, and when we may get there, is a topic for another conversation.

At SGInnovate, we believe in the potential of Quantum Technology in solving big problems and it is one of our investment focus areas. Read on for more of our related Quantum news.


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