Google First To Reach Quantum Supremacy

Google scholars explain in a research paper how the Google AI Quantum team developed a 54-qubit processor that performs a target computation in 200 seconds, which they estimate would today take the world's fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to produce a similar output.

Quantum supremacy is a term that means Google scientists used a quantum computer to solve a problem that would take a classical computer an impractically long amount of time, wrote Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, in a blog post. "This moment represents a distinct milestone in our effort to harness the principles of quantum mechanics to solve computational problems," he wrote. 

The quantum supremacy experiment was run on a fully programmable 54-qubit processor named Sycamore.

As a result of these developments, quantum computing is transitioning from a research topic to a technology that unlocks new computational capabilities, according to the research paper. 

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The milestone aims to show it is possible to achieve quantum speeds in a real-world system.

The achievement, per the team, demonstrates a way to generate certifiable random numbers, as well as other initial uses for this capability that could include optimization, machine learning, materials science, and chemistry.

Realizing the full potential, however, still requires major technical advances to engineer fault-tolerant logical qubits -- a basic unit of quantum information -- according to the paper.

The team also made technical advances that pave the way toward what they call “error correction, by developing fast, high-fidelity gates that can be executed simultaneously across a two-dimensional qubit array.

It's not clear how this supercomputer will benefit the advertising and marketing industries, or how much it will cost to run a super quantum computer --  or even whether this development is the reason Google has invested millions, and recently committed to investing $2 billion to offset energy use.

In September 2019, Google announced it would spend more than $2 billion in new renewable energy infrastructure across the U.S., South America and Europe. The project, which would consist of a 1,600-megawatt package of wind and solar agreements--  includes 18 new energy deals. The company has been making investments in renewable energy for years.

Google began working on quantum computing in 2006, when the company's scientist Hartmut Neven began to explore the idea of how quantum computing might help accelerate machine learning. The work led to the founding of the Google AI Quantum team. I

In 2014, John Martinis and his team at the University of California at Santa Barbara joined Google in the development.

Two years later, Sergio Boixo published a paper that focused Google's efforts around the computational task of quantum supremacy, and now the team has built the world’s first quantum system that exceeds the capabilities of supercomputers for this particular computation.

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