TECHNOLOGY

Google touts quantum computing milestone

Oct 23, 2019, 6:23 AM | Updated: 6:25 am
FILE - This Friday, June 16, 2017, file photo shows the Google logo at a gadgets show in Paris. Goo...
FILE - This Friday, June 16, 2017, file photo shows the Google logo at a gadgets show in Paris. Google said it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing research, saying its quantum processor has completed a calculation in just a few minutes that would take a traditional supercomputer thousands of years to finish. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google said it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing research, saying an experimental quantum processor has completed a calculation in just a few minutes that would take a traditional supercomputer thousands of years.

The findings, published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, show that “quantum speedup is achievable in a real-world system and is not precluded by any hidden physical laws,” the researchers wrote.

Quantum computing is a nascent and somewhat bewildering technology for vastly sped-up information processing. Quantum computers might one day revolutionize tasks that would take existing computers years, including the hunt for new drugs and optimizing city and transportation planning.

The technique relies on quantum bits, or qubits, which can register data values of zero and one — the language of modern computing — simultaneously. Big tech companies including Google, Microsoft, IBM and Intel are avidly pursuing the technology.

“Quantum things can be in multiple places at the same time,” said Chris Monroe, a University of Maryland physicist who is also the founder of quantum startup IonQ. “The rules are very simple, they’re just confounding.”

Google’s findings, however, are already facing pushback from other industry researchers. A version of Google’s paper leaked online last month and researchers caught a glimpse before it was taken down.

IBM quickly took issue with Google’s claim that it had achieved “quantum supremacy,” a term that refers to a point when a quantum computer can perform a calculation that a traditional computer can’t complete within its lifetime. Google’s leaked paper showed that its quantum processor, Sycamore, finished a calculation in three minutes and 20 seconds — and that it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to do the same thing.

But IBM researchers say that Google underestimated the conventional supercomputer, called Summit, and said it could actually do the calculation in 2.5 days. Summit was developed by IBM and is located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Google has not commented on IBM’s claims.

Whether or not Google has achieved “quantum supremacy” or not may matter to competitors, but the semantics could be less important for the field of quantum research. What it does seem to indicate is that the field is maturing.

“The quantum supremacy milestone allegedly achieved by Google is a pivotal step in the quest for practical quantum computers,” John Preskill, a Caltech professor who originally coined the “quantum supremacy” term, wrote in a column after the paper was leaked.

It means quantum computing research can enter a new stage, he wrote, though a significant effect on society “may still be decades away.”

The calculation employed by Google has little practical use, Preskill wrote, other than to test how well the processor works. Monroe echoed that concern.

“The more interesting milestone will be a useful application,” he said.___O’Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island.

Today’s Top Stories

Technology

The Air Force is set to unveil the newest stealth bomber aircraft on Dec. 2. Photo credit: Northrop...
Haley Britzky and Ellie Kaufman, CNN

Air Force unveils newest stealth bomber aircraft

The newest stealth bomber was unveiled on Friday in California.
3 days ago
space radio...
Elizabeth Weiler

USU making history with a radio entering the lunar orbit

LOGAN, Utah — Utah State University has successfully sent a radio, created by Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory into the orbit of earth’s moon.  The deep space radio is named Iris, after the Greek mythological goddess, daughter of Thaumas and Electra and messenger of the gods. The radio made its way into the orbit via a CubeSat […]
5 days ago
In this image provided by NASA, the Earth and its moon are seen from NASA's Orion spacecraft on Mon...
Jackie Wattles, CNN

NASA’s Orion reaches record-breaking distance from Earth

NASA confirmed that Orion had reached the midpoint of its uncrewed mission around the moon — about 270,000 miles (434,523 kilometers) from Earth.
6 days ago
Former US President Donald Trump's Twitter account has been reinstated on the platform....
Clare Duffy and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Elon Musk restores Donald Trump’s Twitter account

Former US President Donald Trump's Twitter account has been reinstated on the platform.
16 days ago
With employees with the company, the future of Twitter is in uncertain. Photo credit: Justin Sulliv...
Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

Inside Twitter as ‘mass exodus’ of staffers throws platform’s future into uncertainty

With employees leaving the company, the future of Twitter is uncertain.
17 days ago
NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen on Nov. 12 at NASA...
Jackie Wattles, CNN

Historic moon mission troubleshoots fuel leak issue hours before launch

The Artemis I mission to the moon could finally take place this week.
20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Google touts quantum computing milestone