You don't have to understand Quantum Computing

But you do need to know something about it. Without having to be a quantum engineer, here are a couple of things to help you get your head around quantum computing and why it will transform our world.

Quantum Computing is changing computing like the first iPhone revolutionised mobile telephones. Quantum Computing will overtake classical computing as we know it and may even obliterate it.

Small and fast but not clever enough

Over time, computers have become smaller and smaller, reaching their pocket size today. The various bits allowing fast data transmission are now so small that they are invisible to the human eye. These microchips are basically wafers of semi-conductor material (mostly silicon) loaded with billions of transistors. And today’s computers literally need billions of transistors to complete tasks and make simple decisions. The more transistors, the more decisions and the more complex calculations can be undertaken. However, today’s computers are linear; they do basic arithmetic at high speed in linear fashion, which is time consuming. Google Maps for example, will calculate the best way to travel from A to B. It will look at the various options one by one and then choose the best. Due to mega processing power, it can calculate the options quickly enough to come up with an adequate and acceptable answer at high speed. But the size of the chips are now reaching the limits of size, hence the speed can’t increase much and the classical computer will be unable to calculate very complex matters in an acceptable amount of time.

So what if a computer is faced with calculations that have gazillions of probabilities and where the variables change constantly too? This type of analysing and calculating data for optimisation is way beyond what computers are able to do today, unless they have months or years to run these programs, no matter how clever the algorithms. It is the limit of linear computing power.

Fast, Furious and Unstoppable: Quantum Power

Fast and furious, Quantum computing borrows its name form Quantum Physics. Why? Quantum Physics explains how everything in the natural world works: it studies the nature of the particles that make up matter and the forces with which they interact. Quantum particles defy human logic or rules; they move forward and backward in time and can exist in 2 places at the same time. This is what Quantum Computing aims to do. It mimics the behaviour of these particles in order to calculate hugely complex issues quickly. It abandons the linear model and brings in incredible creativity and irrationality as well as forward, backward and simultaneous thinking that has the ability to scale at unprecedented speed.

Endless possibilities

Without going into the technicalities of how this works, let’s think of some examples of how Quantum computing will create a sea change in how we do things today, as we will have the power to solve many complex things superfast. Think of medicine: Quantum computing can calculate the millions of different variations of a drug and come up with the combination that is most effective. It can calculate real-time traffic situations in cities and direct people to the most efficient routes and minimise accidents (Quantum computing is key in self driving technology) or it can plan- in real time - the best path for planes to take off and land to minimise fuel consumption. It can calculate the utmost accurate weather forecasts as it is able to calculate all – constantly changing - variables in real time. It will equally blast through the complexities of the crypto world as the lengthy and labyrinthian computations needed to approve and verify crypto transactions (proof of work), can be done in seconds. Quantum computing is like the ultimate super-brain.

Lastly, to get an idea of the exponentiality of the power of quantum, imagine a table of 10 at a sit-down dinner. How many different possibilities are there to sit these 10 people at the table? Each person individually has 10 different places to sit, but that number of seat options grows exponentially if you take into account the variations of whom each person can sit next to. The variations of seating 10 people at this table are in fact 3.6 million, i.e the factorial of 10. Try to calculate that with your iPhone. You may need some Quantum power to help you out.

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