In the grueling race to build a practical quantum computer, tech companies are keeping their spirits up by loudly cheering every milestone — no matter how small. One of the most vocal competitors is IBM, which today at CES unveiled the IBM Q System One: a 20-qubit quantum computer that’s built for stability, but with some very flashy design. IBM is touting the Q System One as “the world’s first fully integrated universal quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use.” But that’s a description that needs a lot of context. The Q System One may be designed for commercial use, but it’s not exactly ready for it. Not in the way you might think. Quantum computers like the Q System One are still very much experimental devices. They can’t outperform classical computers at useful tasks (in fact, your laptop is probably more powerful when it comes to real-life computation), but are instead supposed to be research tools; … [Read more...] about IBM’s new quantum computer is a symbol, not a breakthrough

# Qubits quantum computing

## IonQ Quantum Computer Delivers More Processing Power Than Google’s

IonQ, one of many companies developing a quantum computer, has announced a new trapped ion quantum computer with 79 processing qubits. The company claims this quantum computer should beat Google’s 72-qubit quantum computer, not just in terms of number of qubits, but also in total processing performance. IonQ Quantum Computer Breaks a Record The IonQ trapped ion quantum computer was able to break a world record for a particular problem using the Bernstein-Vazirani Algorithm. This algorithm tests the ability of a computer to determine an encoded number, called an oracle, when allowed only a single yes/no question. For a 10-bit oracle (a number between 0 and 1,023) a conventional computer succeeds 0.2 percent of the time. However, the IonQ quantum computer achieved a success rate of 73 percent. This is a better result than any other quantum computer has achieved so far. IonQ's 79-qubit quantum computer has shown one and two-gate fidelity rates of 99.97 percent and 99.3 percent, … [Read more...] about IonQ Quantum Computer Delivers More Processing Power Than Google’s

## Quantum Computing Needs You to Help Solve Its Core Mystery

Since 2016, IBM has offered online access to a quantum computer. Anyone can log in and execute commands on a 5-qubit or 14-qubit machine located in Yorktown Heights, New York, from the comfort of their own home. This month, I finally tried it—nervously. I did not know what I was doing and worried I might break the hardware. “You won’t mess anything up,” IBM physicist James Wootton assured me via Skype. I chose the 5-qubit machine. The online interface resembles a musical score consisting of five horizontal lines, one line corresponding to each quantum bit, or qubit. Qubits, the basic building block of a quantum computer, are pieces of hardware that represent numbers, just like the transistors in your computer—except they obey the bizarre laws of quantum mechanics. Designs vary, but IBM’s qubits consist of tiny circuits made of superconducting wire, kept in a refrigerator very close to absolute zero. The circuits can only hold information at low … [Read more...] about Quantum Computing Needs You to Help Solve Its Core Mystery

## What a quantum computer is, and why it needs to be more

A quantum computer is -- or, perhaps more accurately phrased, would be -- a wholly different order of mechanism than anything the human species has ever constructed. Today, there are working machines that perform some small part of what a full quantum computer may eventually do. Depending upon whom you ask, these are either quantum computing prototypes or "prologues" -- stepping stones toward the real thing.Also: Why Intel's smallest spin qubit chip could be a turning point in quantum computing The goal of quantum computing research is to discover a means of expediting the execution of long waves of instructions. Such a means would exploit an observed phenomenon of quantum mechanics that, when you write it down on paper, doesn't appear to make sense.Why quantum? More on Quantum Computing If this goal is achieved -- if everything that physicists are certain works theoretically, ends up working in the real world -- then mathematical problems that require days' worth of calculation … [Read more...] about What a quantum computer is, and why it needs to be more

## A Grad Student Solved a Fundamental Quantum Computing Problem

In the spring of 2017, Urmila Mahadev found herself in what most graduate students would consider a pretty sweet position. She had just solved a major problem in quantum computation, the study of computers that derive their power from the strange laws of quantum physics. Combined with her earlier papers, Mahadev’s new result, on what is called blind computation, made it “clear she was a rising star,” said Scott Aaronson, a computer scientist at the University of Texas, Austin. Quanta Magazine About Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Mahadev, who was 28 at the time, was already in her seventh year of graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley — long past the stage when most students become impatient … [Read more...] about A Grad Student Solved a Fundamental Quantum Computing Problem