Technology

Quantum Computers: Understanding Their Basic Mechanics and Limitless Potential

Since the advent of computers, humans have relentlessly pursued advancements and innovations to enhance their capabilities consistently. 

One of the most critical and visionary mission humans have ever undertaken was the Apollo 11 mission to land the first human on the moon’s surface. It had the most sophisticated computing and electronic systems, called Apollo Guidance Computer. 

Can you guess the RAM and ROM Apollo Guidance Computer had? 

The Apollo Guidance Computer had RAM of 4KB and 32KB of ROM.

Yes, it is astonishing. It is like we have created our own YAKA in the last 50 years regarding computing abilities and digital advancement. 

Our era is defined by rigorous technological progress. Our relentless pursuit of advancement and sophistication has led us to another milestone in the realm of computers, the beginning of quantum computers.

Quantum computers have emerged as a captivating and revolutionary step forward. 

In this simple exploration, we will embark on a journey through the intricate workings of quantum computers and try to shed light on their operation and the boundless possibilities they present.

The Quantum Foundation: A Paradigm Shift

I would like to start with something not so obvious (not that anything is obvious when it comes to Quantum mechanics): it might come as a surprise to you when I say that the working mechanics of computers that we usually taught in our school or college physics are grossly oversimplified. Yes, we have a solid understanding of how computers work. However, there is continuous debate and discussion between physicists and computer scientists about the fundamental workings of classical computers and the underlying principles of computing.

If anyone tells you that they understand how Quantum Computers work, do not believe them!

Unlike classical computers, Quantum computers operate on the principles of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is a field notorious for challenging the very fabric of conventional reality. 

Classical computers work on binary code. They use bits (0 and 1) as the fundamental data unit; we also refer to 0 as the ground state and 1 as the excited state. 

Unlike classical computers, which employ bits as the fundamental unit of data, quantum computers utilize quantum bits or qubits. These qubits are based on a well-known phenomenon called superposition. Superposition is a Quantum phenomenon where a quantum state can exist in multiple states simultaneously. Remember the cat that is both dead and alive? Yes, it is that, Schrödinger’s cat!

Superposition allows the qubits to exist in multiple states simultaneously, like Schrödinger’s cat. This unique property gives quantum computers an innate advantage over their classical counterparts, allowing them to process extensive volumes of data with exponential speed and efficiency. Quantum computers can process information in ways that were once deemed unfathomable.

Classical computers use bits where probabilistic states do not play any role. It is either an excited state (1) or a ground state (0). However, qubits are fundamentally different. There is no absolute probability of them being either a 1 or a 0. They can be either both simultaneously or anything in between! 

You can think of qubits as sinusoidal (or sine) waves. A qubit is neither the maxima nor the minima. But it’s likely to be either. When a number of these qubits interact, they follow the interference patterns like waves. They interact constructively or destructively. This is the basics of working a Quantum Computer; when we manipulate how these constructive and destructive interference patterns occur, we are essentially harnessing the quantum phenomenon for our intended use. 

Entanglement: The Key to Unprecedented Processing Power

Quantum Entanglement is another famous quantum phenomenon that is involved in the working of Quantum Computers. Even Einstein dismissed this phenomenon as a “spooky action at a distance.”

Quantum entanglement is a strange and intriguing phenomenon where the state of one entangled particle is intricately transmitted and intertwined with the state of the other, even if they are on two opposite ends of the universe. 

In the case of quantum computers, entanglement equips quantum computers to undertake intricate calculations with astonishing precision. As the number of entangled qubits increases, the processing capability of quantum computers grows exponentially, unveiling solutions to challenges that would be insurmountable for classical computing systems.

Quantum Gates: Manipulating and controlling the Building Blocks

Yes, these complex and counter-intuitive quantum phenomena exist, but how do they make computers work? 

The answer is Quantum Gates. Quantum gates govern the manipulation of qubits and the execution of computation. These gates allow us to control the transformations and interactions of qubits, alter their state and enable intricate calculations. 

The classic counterparts of quantum gates are logic gates. However, it’s important to note that quantum gates play a pivotal role in forming quantum circuits, enabling information processing that defies the constraints of classical logic. The capacity to alter qubits at their most fundamental level is the foundation of quantum computers’ unparalleled processing power. Some examples of quantum gates (to feed your curiosity) are the Hadamard gate, Pauli X gate, Pauli Y gate, and Identity gate. 

Shor’s Algorithm: A Glimpse into Quantum Computing Potential & Supremacy

Developed in 1994 by a prominent American mathematician Peter Shor, Shor’s algorithm has the capability to factor large numbers at an exponentially accelerated rate compared to any classical algorithm. It is one of the most astonishing showcases of quantum computing’s potential.

So how does Shor’s algorithm show the supremacy of quantum computers? 

One of the most complex problems in mathematics is finding an integer’s prime factors. The security of our online transaction hinges on the idea that it is practically impossible to factor integers with a thousand or more digits.

It is a profound subject that deserves its own book. 

Simply put, a quantum computer could factor integers with a thousand or more digits using Shor’s algorithm. Yes, classical computers, too, can run Shor’s algorithm, but they are painfully shown. A quantum computer containing only a few hundred qubits has the potential to break down numbers that would be practically impossible (taking hundreds of years of computer processing) for a classical computer to solve.

What a supercomputer or a server farm would take years to do; can be done on a quantum computer within minutes or even seconds. 

The implications are profound: quantum computers could potentially render many contemporary encryption methods obsolete, presenting both remarkable opportunities and intricate challenges in the realm of cybersecurity and data protection.

Quantum Computers in Action: Realizing Real-World Impact

The capabilities of quantum computers transcend far beyond the field of cryptography and mathematics. Quantum computers have tremendous potential to transform diverse areas such as optimization, material science, drug discovery, and artificial intelligence. Their ability to swiftly analyze extensive and elaborate datasets paves the way for a revolution across industries. From handling intricate optimization quandaries to accelerating the development of novel materials and drugs, quantum computers have the power to unlock realms of science and technology that were once deemed impossible. 

Looking At the Future: The Limitless Horizons of Quantum Computing

From quantum error correction to qubit stability and hardware development, the field of quantum computing is rapidly evolving with the persistent efforts of computer scientists, engineers, and physicists. 

Our ruthless pursuit of quantum supremacy—the threshold at which quantum computers surpass the most advanced classical computing systems—propels the field forward at a breathtaking pace. The power, influence, and transformative potential of a quantum computer are becoming more and more evident with each milestone. 

We are approaching a future where harnessing the quantum realm’s remarkable properties will unravel mysteries that have long eluded our grasp. This article is researched and prepared by Ubaid Shareef, Digital Marketer at BrainerHub Solutions – Custom software development company in India

Yashpal

Professional blogger and content writer. I like to share the latest information topics on technology, science, health, social media trends and many more.

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