October 8, 2023 at 12:16 pm

IBM’s Recent Breakthrough In Quantum Computing Ushers In The “Era Of Utility”

by Trisha Leigh

Source: IBM

There are scientists and programmers out there working every day to break through the barriers that are currently holding us back from the next level of computing.

Recently, some at IBM said they had made a major leap forward. They’re calling it the “Era of Utility.”

Scientists there say what they’ve done is to develop a method that manages the inherent unreliability that has plagued quantum processors. If true, this could make quantum computers at least as practical as conventional ones.

Quantum computing takes advantage of two principles: superposition (the ability for quantum bits or qubits to be in separate states at the same time) and entanglement (enabling two particles to share the same state simultaneously).

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Together these allow for a way smaller number of qubits to do the work of many more regular bits, which have to be binary one or zero.

One of the issues has always been something called quantum noise – which means that at the quantum level, particles can behave in unpredictable ways.

Being able to manage this noise has been a barrier to practical results in the past.

Previously Google claimed to be the frontrunners in the arena of quantum computing, but their experiment ultimately failed to show real world merit – and in the end, their quantum computers were not able to outperform the ones we already have.

IBM Fellow and VP of IBM Quantum Research Jay Gambetta promises their breakthrough is going to be different.

“We’re entering this phase of quantum computing that I call utility. The era of utility.”

IBM says they’ve been able to mitigate the quantum noise by actually introducing more noise and then documenting its effects on the processor. They say this allows them to reliably figure out what the calculations would look like were the noise nonexistent.

They’re calling the process “error mitigation.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Detractors say that, because the problem they were running is one too complicated for a classic model to solve, there’s no way to reliably check the answers, but IBM researchers like Andrew Eddins disagree.

“The level of agreement between the quantum and classical computations on such large problems was pretty surprising to me personally. Hopefully it’s impressive to everyone.”

Still, everyone agrees that further experiments will be needed in order to call this “quantum supremacy.”

That said, there is tentative hope that the process of “error mitigation” will be the missing step that helps complete the puzzle.