Google says ‘quantum supremacy’ achieved in new age super computer; IBM disputes claim

Google's Sycamore chip
Google’s Sycamore chip

The Associated Press:

Google says it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing research.

It says an experimental quantum processor has completed a calculation in just a few minutes that would take a traditional supercomputer thousands of years.

The results of its study appear in the scientific journal Nature. Google says it has achieved quantum supremacy, which means the quantum computer did something a conventional computer could never do.

Competitor IBM is disputing that Google achieved the benchmark, saying Google underestimated the conventional supercomputer.

MacDailyNews Take: Quantum advantage is not quantum supremacy.

Because the original meaning of the term “quantum supremacy,” as proposed by John Preskill in 2012, was to describe the point where quantum computers can do things that classical computers can’t, this threshold has not been met.Edwin Pednault, John Gunnels, and Jay Gambetta, IBM Research Blog, October 21, 2019

That said:

Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think. ― Werner Heisenberg

Google’s announcement is here.

The Nature article is here.

16 Comments

  1. If that calculation would take a “traditional” computer “thousands of years,” how does Google even know the result is correct? Knowing Google’s typical lack of rigor, the calculation result is no doubt wrong 🙃 And FYI, the correct answer is 42 😉

    1. Because Kenny boy in many cases, you can observe and measure as well as calculate. You already know the right answer by measuring.

      A good example is the frequently discussed code break. You know it worked because it worked!

      1. It is also possible to observe and measure as well as calculate the level of jaq-ass-ary that comes from applecynic, the racist nuk-fuqqle who calls people “boy”.

        A good example is the frequently seen applecynic comment. You know he’s posted because he’s posted!

    2. Incidentally, if the speed Google achieved is correct, and we assume that the computer in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was not a Quantum computer – the time required to calculate 42 would have taken just under 42 hours with Google’s new toy.

      1. In some programming languages * means insert anything here. I personally refer to it as a pointer – a pointer to an allocation in RAM. It is the 42nd char in the computer system. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide, it was a joke the computer replied with 42 or * – telling the human to insert whatever there.

    3. Google’s demonstration was nothing like a computation of an answer in the conventional sense of the term. The only answer was that the quantum computer settled into a set of quantum states that would have taken a conventional computer many thousands of years to get to that state. There was no such thing as “factor this number into two prime numbers” or “invert this huge, nearly unstable matrix” or anything like that. For Google’s demonstration there was no “answer” to verify.

      Google’s demonstration had absolutely nothing to do with a useful computation. Google’s demonstration was just a something that showed a large number of elements in quantum flux can be stable enough to settle into a specific set of quantum states. That’s something that has been hypothesized for many years, but up until Google’s success has never been shown in the physical world.

      There is a long, long, long way to go from that demonstration to something that is able to do useful, real world calculations. It could easily be 5 – 10 years before anyone crosses that threshold.

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