What Is A Quantum Computer And Why Is It Synonymous With The Future
Richard Feynman, a 1965 Nobel Prize-winning physicist and one of the fathers of quantum computing, said that “no one understands quantum mechanics.” It is important to remember this from the beginning, because the concepts that we will discuss below are explored by experts in the field who, in their own words, still struggle to successfully describe their objects of study.
But quantum computing is not worth it just for its complexity, it is a concept that repeatedly proves to be one of the keys to the exponential future of technology and all the advances that we hope to acquire in the coming years. It must be made clear that the innovation we are talking about this time is nothing like computers as we understand them, with keyboard and screen. “Right now they are very primitive systems, comparable to a calculator from the beginning of the last century, but whose calculation capacity for certain problems is much higher than a conventional computer. There is this dichotomy between what seems to be something very simple, but does something very powerful” explains Juan José García Ripoll, a researcher at the Institute of Fundamental Physics of the Higher Council for Scientific Research in Spain.
How is it possible that such an apparently simple device far exceeds traditional computers? What is this advance for today?
The Functions Of Quantum Computing And Its Basis.
Studied since the 1980s by physicists like Richard Feynman, quantum computers have always been about solving problems that traditional computing can’t even tackle.
Understanding the language with which traditional computers work is crucial to understanding quantum computers. The most important basis of the traditional concept are the so-called bits, units of basic information represented by high voltage values (1) and low values (0). This is known as the “AND OR NOT” computing language that stipulates the nature of computers as we know them: either the values are 1 or they are 0, it is not possible for them to be both or to be combined.
Quantum computing revolutionizes this concept, processing information with a language whose main unit is qubits, which are capable of representing both the value 1 and 0, combining them, superimposing them and intertwining, that is, assuming values at the same time, completely moving away from the root of conventional computing.
Another key difference also exists in their physical construction, as quantum computers do not have memory, processor or peripherals, making them unable to perform everyday tasks of a home computer. No one except researchers can approach quantum computers, because, although they are relatively simple construction pieces, they need special environmental conditions to work, such as being cooled to temperatures of -273ºC, without atmospheric pressure and isolated from the Earth’s magnetic field. Its physical center is a quantum chip, which has a certain number of qubits, where it is possible to superimpose the values 1 and 0 as there is no external disturbance.
Their capacity does not necessarily make them faster, but they do have a greater range of information processing. The fields where this capacity is currently used range from the pharmaceutical industry to the so-called quantum finances. In this first field, its use focuses on simulating the molecular behavior of components such as water, which sounds very easy, but its prediction is impossible with traditional computers. This can be used to predict the behavior of formulas during the development of new drugs, achieving unprecedented medical advances.
In finance, it is currently possible to calculate the evolution of risk or study the evolution of the stock market with classical computing, but quantum computing opens the possibility of superimposing probabilities and consulting on functions that are incalculable by traditional computers. One of the specific lines studied in quantum finance is the optimization of investment portfolios, where the development of quantum algorithms is being worked on that could improve the way in which banks help their clients make decisions thanks to the possibility of introducing multiple variables, impossible with classical algorithms.
It is clear then that this technology is not for everyday activities, its development is not related to allowing faster downloads of movies or browsing online. However, one of the most important current goals of the companies developing these innovative devices is to progressively make them more accessible to companies and researchers who are interested in implementing quantum powers in their studies. This innovative field is still under development, but the advances offer the hope of opening doors that science cannot even touch today due to the limitations of computational calculation.