Google, United States, William Liam Oliver discussed on Nature Podcast

Nature Podcast


Up on the show today? Report Benjamin Thompson has been diving into the quantum world to find out about a significant milestone for computing listeners. Today I want to talk about quantum computers which are rather different from the so called classical computers like the laptop you might use it work. The fundamental building blocks that these classical computers used to run programs a called binary digits or bits and these can be set so one or zero the equivalent unit in a quantum computer is called a quantum bit or cubits these can be an estate of zero or one but they can also be in states that capture aspects of both zero and one symbol tenuously. It's long been hoped that the cubit strange properties could be harnessed to allow quantum computers to perform certain kinds of tasks a lot quicker than classical computers. There's also the thought. The quantum computers have the potential to make calculations that are too complicated for classical computers to do. It's all this idea is known as quantum supremacy embassy but despite the efforts of research teams around the world actually demonstrating quantum supremacy has been really tricky for a number of reasons quantum supremacy. The premise is difficult to achieve. Because you have to build quantum hardware the quantum computer to run it on. That's pretty capable. This is John Sean Martinez from Google and the University of California Santa Barbara in the US and you need to have a certain size number of quantum beds that right now is hard and you also have to build Ju- bits where you can control them really well and they have very low error rates than and combination of those. Things is kind of hard to do. While demonstrating quantum supremacy may be haunted do journalists colleagues claimed to have done just that. You have heard some rumblings about this a month or so back. A copy of their paper leaked online but this week a team of published their findings in nature showing for the first time. A quantum computer that's able to accomplish a very specific task that the world's most powerful supercomputer is unable to. So how do they do it. Well they use some pretty impressive hardware at quantum. Computers Heart is a processor called Sycamore which contains fifty three three individually controllable cubits that run operations called logic gates the computer is centered around that ship that we make in a clear own bike you would make for a standard electroncs chip the difference is is that the computer is made out of the superconducting materials. We connected. This is quantum computer chip which is operated at very low temperatures about one when hundreds of Calvin so this is about one part in ten thousand thousand of room temperatures. We didn't connect wires to bow to some room temperature control electronics which put on some various electrical signals signals in microwave which actually control the quantum computer to do the logic as to see if the system could achieve quantum supremacy. The team said task the sensors on a kind of quantum random number generator the fifty three cubits in the quantum chip were fed a series of random operations and each cubic gave back either a zero or a one giving a string of fifty three Zeros and ones in total. Now there are a huge amount of different combinations reasons of these strings. toots the power fifty three and facts but distribution of them is not random Ju to something called quantum interference some combinations a more likely than others. You can think of it like this. Imagine you have a six sided die that is slightly weighted in favour of one number. If you roll the die once you could get any number however if you roll it a million times you'll be able to see their bias caused by the waiting and be able to figure out the probability of each number coming up. This is similar to what the computer did by repeatedly sampling. The results it was able to give the probability distribution of each of the fifty three long long strings of ones and Zeros although this is very demanding computation Louis. The Sycamore based quantum computer was able to take it in its stride doing a million samples in two hundred seconds to get an idea of the probability distribution Hamad. Naven who's also from Google explains. This is quite a bit quicker than the estimated that the world's top rated supercomputer known as summit would take to accomplish the same task. It was two hundred seconds on the more chip versus ten thousand years on the summit machine. Ten thousand years for a super a computer with over nine thousand. CPU's and over twenty five thousand GPU's obviously running a supercomputer for ten thousand years and waiting to see what the results are isn't really feasible. The team actually came up with this value by getting classical computers to simulate simpler versions of the quantum random number generator razer and extrapolating. The results work out. How long the full version would take? There are suggestions though that this timeframe might not necessarily be accurate in a very recent post IBM claim that far from taking ten thousand years with some adjustments. A classical computer could perform the same task and just two point five days. This of course needs to be tested and it's a debate that shorter continue whether or not Google's quantum computer is capable of doing something thing that a supercomputer Kahn or during much quicker. What does this result actually mean the tasks that the research team chose doesn't really have any practical use and it was chosen specifically because it's tough classical computers to do it will be a while before quantum computers are able to work on useful problems but William Liam Oliver from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US who's in a news and views odds on the work thinks it's an important step along the road? I think that this is a very important milestone on it. Shows that a quantum computer can be controlled to a degree that it can outperform the best classical computers and it can do so using this universal so set of gates which in principle can be used to make arbitrarily complex and in fact interesting algorithms. William Likens the current work to the Wright brothers first construction of powered flight. That event didn't change the world overnight but it showed what was possible. He thinks there's still a ways to go until quantum computers are ready for prime time with bottom computers. This is just the beginning. Next Steps are going to the to develop algorithms that commercialize until they solve real problems that we care about and then in parallel we have to develop and demonstrate quantum error correcting codes that allow allow us to improve the robustness of these quantum processors just by adding redundancy into the system. And this is on with with classical systems and we need to learn how to to do it with quantum systems. That was William Oliver from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US had over to nature dot com. We can read his news and views article. You'll also find the paper by John Martinez and Hot Matt Navy in the same place later on. We'll be finding out about a new gene editing tool. That's coming up in the news chat. Now it's time for some record-breaking research highlight with Anna Neagle if.

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