Quantum Computing and the Science behind It
1 month ago A Srinidhi 0
“ Anyone who did not feel dizzy when thinking about quantum theory had not
― Robert Gilmore.
The world is always full of mysteries, new inventions, and new discoveries. One of the developing technology is Quantum Computing. Many companies and scientist are interested in the new era of quantum computing. There are some interesting principles behind the quantum theory that helps quantum computing work.
Quantum computing is based on the principle of quantum theory, which deals with modern physics that explains the behavior of matter and energy of an atomic and subatomic level. This technology makes use of quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as quantum bits, superposition, and entanglement to perform complex data operations which normal computers can’t do on their own.
This computing uses quantum bits or qubits for a unit of memory. Qubits are comprised of two state quantum-mechanical system. A quantum-mechanical system can exist in any two distinguishable quantum states.
Superposition is a principle that states, “while we do not know the state of an object at a given time, it is possible that it is in all states simultaneously, as long as we do not look at it to check its state”.
The way that energy and mass correlate to interact with each other regardless of distance is called entanglement.
Why do these phenomena matter?
Entanglement and superpositioning play a vital role in advancing computing and communications that can benefit us in numerous ways. These two phenomena can be used to process an extremely large number of calculations, whereas ordinary computers cannot. The power of this computing is astonishing and not many grasps the full capabilities it has to offer. While classical computers process information as 1’s and 0’s, quantum computers operate according to the laws of physics; this means information can be processed as 1’s and 0’s, or 1 and 0 simultaneously. This is possible because of the principle called quantum-mechanical principle superposition.
In the real world where bits are perceived as “0” or “1”, only one of the four possible states can exist at any time in space. However, in a quantum superposition state, all four of the states can co-exist in time and space simultaneously.
Not only are these extremely interesting principles, they are necessary for providing computing power for calculating difficult problems.
Google is experimenting with new post-quantum cryptography— can they prevent quantum computers from cracking modern encryption techniques?
The study and art of codebreaking called cryptography, originating millennia ago in the encryption of messages. In modern terms, however, it has a much different perspective.
In the Information age, cryptography represents the struggle to share or store data without leaving it vulnerable to infiltration. This data could be health records, banking information, digitized intellectual property such as music, classified government files, or even simply the lock on a smartphone.
Until now, cryptography has relied on creating the codes with such high levels of computational hardness that it is functionally impossible to break. Even though the code, itself, is capable of being broken, it is too complicated for even advanced computers to break.
That is, until the advent of quantum computers.
Practicality of Quantum Computers technology
COURTESY: Google images
A company called D-Wave Systems had started to sell the largest quantum computer that has ever been built to companies. Companies like Google and NASA have paid just over $10 million for the machine. Like these, many companies have the funds to purchase such a device, but its applications aren’t as endless as one would think.
Google is using the D-Wave 2X machine to build a similar quantum computer to solve the optimization problems such as artificial intelligence and faster web-search for users.
NASA is using the system to advance mission planning, pattern recognition, and air traffic control.
Research has been published stating that these quantum computers aren’t actually performing any quantum physics mechanics; they are same as classical computers and the quantum processor was found to be 10 times faster, but more than often it was 100 times slower than a classical computer.
From these assessments, it is obtained that quantum computing machines are still long from being universally regarded as being true quantum computers. The physics and quantum mechanics behind it have come a long way since it’s discovery, but it also has a long way to advance.
What the quantum computers can’t do?
Google investigates the quantum computers limitations. With such extraordinary computing power, a quantum supercomputer could help us solve various issues in maths and science. But such a computer also poses a large threat when it comes to cryptography: Theoretically, a quantum computer can crack any program that uses encryption algorithms to provide safety for its users.
Google is experimenting with this post-quantum cryptography in their web browser, Chrome. Essentially, post-quantum cryptography is the art of creating cryptographic algorithms, as that of today, which are said to be secure against an attack from a quantum computer such as the D-Wave 2X.
Google is experimenting the post-quantum cryptography by utilizing a portion of their connections between the desktop version of Chrome and Google’s data servers. Between the connections, they use a cryptographic algorithm. The algorithm that Google is using for these tests was developed by Erdem Alkim, Léo Ducas, Thomas Pöppelmann, and Pete Schwabe. They named it “New Hope”.
Image courtesy: California Institute of tech.
The experiment is taking place on Google’s Chrome Canary channel. Referring to a “canary in the coal mine”, the name “Canary” reflects the channel’s purpose.
Likewise, many corporate companies are involved as follows:
- Booz | Allen | Hamilton
- British Telecommunications
- Hewlett Packard
- Lockheed Martin
- SK Telecom
Today’s advancements in quantum technology are still far from being able to break encryption algorithms and decode data from secured servers. There is likely a good deal of time before this technology is created, manufactured, and available in the consumer market. Hopefully, within the time availability engineers will be able to develop a strong line of defense against this new generation of cryptographical dangers.