So what’s Quantum Computing?
Quantum computing is an area based on building a computer or developing computer technologies based on the principles of quantum theories, which explains the nature and behaviour of energy and matter on the atomic and subatomic level. Quantum computers if made in practical would boost computer performance a billion times than today’s supercomputer. The quantum computer, following the laws of quantum physics, would gain enormous processing power through the ability to be in multiple states, and to perform tasks using all possible permutations simultaneously. They work together as quantum bits or qubits.
Qubits do not rely on the traditional binary nature of computing. While traditional computers encode information into bits using binary numbers, either a 0 or 1, and can only do calculations on one set of numbers at once, quantum computers encode information as a series of quantum-mechanical states such as spin directions of electrons or polarization orientations of a photon that might represent a 1 or a 0, might represent a combination of the two or might represent a number expressing that the state of the qubit is somewhere between 1 and 0, or a superposition of many different numbers at once. A quantum computer can do an arbitrary reversible classical computation on all the numbers simultaneously, which a binary system cannot do, and also has some ability to produce interference between various different numbers.
Think of a qubit as an electron in a magnetic field. The electron’s spin may be either in alignment with the field, which is known as a spin-up state, or opposite to the field, which is known as a spin-down state. Changing the electron’s spin from one state to another is achieved by using a pulse of energy, such as from a laser – let’s say that we use 1 unit of laser energy. But what if we only use half a unit of laser energy and completely isolate the particle from all external influences? According to quantum law, the particle then enters a superposition of states, in which it behaves as if it were in both states simultaneously. Each qubit utilised could take a superposition of both 0 and 1. Thus, the number of computations that a quantum computer could undertake is 2^n, where n is the number of qubits used. A quantum computer comprised of 500 qubits would have a potential to do 2^500 calculations in a single step. This is an awesome number – 2^500 is infinitely more atoms than there are in the known universe (this is true parallel processing – classical computers today, even so-called parallel processors, still only truly do one thing at a time: there are just two or more of them doing it). But how will these particles interact with each other? They would do so via quantum entanglement.
By doing a computation on many different numbers at once, then interfering the results to get a single answer, a quantum computer has the potential to be much more powerful than a classical computer of the same size. In using only a single processing unit, a quantum computer can naturally perform myriad operations in parallel.