In DepthPhysics

Google claims quantum computing milestone

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Science  27 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6460, pp. 1364
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6460.1364

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Summary

The age of quantum computing may have begun not with a flashy press conference, but with an internet leak. According to a paper posted briefly—and presumably mistakenly—to the website of a NASA laboratory, physicists at Google have used a quantum computer to perform a calculation that would overwhelm the world's best conventional supercomputer. Although the abstruse computation has no known use, the result means scientists have passed a long-anticipated milestone known as "quantum supremacy." The Google computer lacks the ability to correct errors, which may be key to making a full-fledged quantum computer. And many researchers worry that after all the hype surrounding quantum supremacy, quantum computing may experience a letdown like the one that plagued artificial intelligence from the 1970s until the current decade, when technology finally caught up with aspirations. In the leaked paper, however, the 76 authors conclude: "We are only one creative algorithm away from valuable near-term applications."

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