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Beginners guide to quantum computer programming

Beginners guide to quantum computer programming

There is a lot of hype in the tech world around a particular kind of computer- the quantum computer. But is it just the latest buzz word or does it really have potential to change the world? In this article we delve into the why, the what, the how, the who, and most importantly, the when of quantum computing.

 

1. Why do I care about quantum computing?

Quantum computing is set to transform the world of technology as we know it. By redefining the limits of data processing power it can tackle all manner of scientific and technological challenges. But what is it, how does it work and when can we be expecting to use it?

 

2. How does it work?

This is a very difficult question to answer, especially in a blog post. You would need at least a degree in particle physics to even begin to fully explain. The easiest way to lay it out, in layman's terms is to start with traditional computing. This encodes data in a series of zeros and ones (binary). Quantum computing leverages the behavior of subt-atomic particles which can be in two states at the same time. This means that a qubit, or quantum big can be both one and zero at once.

 

3. Why do we need it?

By combining large amounts of qubits, the number of states they can represent increases significantly. This makes it possible to compute millions and millions of possibilities all at the same time. In this way, quantum computing can process data very quickly as well as solve problems that are beyond the capabilities of traditional computers.
For example, imagine you want to programme a computer to find a certain name in a phonebook with 100 million entries. A conventional search algorithm would require 50 million operations whereas a quantum search algorithm would only need 10,000.

 

4. What other applications does it have?

One of the main uses of such technology is in chemistry. It will be able to accurately model the way molecules and atoms behave in the development of new pharmaceuticals. But it will also have a lot of non-scientific applications as well. It could be used to create more advanced modelling systems in financial institutions, more accurately predicting financial exposures and losses. It could also be used in Artificial Intelligence to enable machine-learning algorithms to master highly-complex tasks quicker than they can at the moment.

 

5. Is it already a thing?

At the time of writing, quantum computing is just a theory although quantum physicists say a breakthrough could happen soon. You see, qubits are quite hard to manage and even a small change in temperature or noise levels can change zeros to ones, or vice versa. This means qubits have to be carefully managed and operated at sub-zero temperatures. Furthermore, quantum computers require a vast amount of power and a lot of this will be used to correct errors caused by misfiring qubits.
To date, IBM has announced a processor with 50 qubits and Google has 72. A properly functioning quantum computer would need thousands though so a real breakthrough is perhaps a decade away.

 

5. How will it impact digital security?

The power of quantum computers will make it easier for people to break cryptographic algorithms. That being said, it can also be used to strengthen security.

 

Authored by the Finerton.com News Team (Malta)
Images Sourced from Unsplash.com & Pixabay.com

Last modified on: April 29, 2020

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