The fact that pretty much anyone who isn’t a scientist can’t explain what quantum computing is won’t stop Microsoft from bringing such a computer to reality.
As a matter of fact, the American software giant has predicted quantum computers could become a reality within the next ten years.
Microsoft’s quantum lab, Station Q, published a paper earlier this week, saying that it’s working on a device that goes far beyond the capabilities of other quantum computers currently in development.
Such a system, even a small one with around 100 qubits, would be able to solve problems beyond the realm of conventional computers.
"Recent improvements in control of quantum systems make it seem feasible to finally build a quantum computer within a decade," the paper's abstract (opens in new tab) states. "While it has been shown that such a quantum computer can in principle solve certain small electronic structure problems... the highly relevant problem of directly solving a complex correlated material appears to require prohibitive amount of resources."
If they are to achieve this, Station Q proposes a hybrid – a combination of quantum and classical computing, an algorithm which can be utilised to incorporate the power of a small quantum computer into a conventional framework.
“Here, we show that by using a hybrid quantum-classical algorithm that incorporates the power of a small quantum computer into a framework of classical embedding algorithms, the electronic structure of complex correlated materials can be efficiently tackled using a quantum computer. In our approach, the quantum computer solves a small effective quantum impurity problem that is self-consistently determined via a feedback loop between the quantum and classical computation.”