There’s been a lot of talk about quantum computing lately as Googles recent claim to “Quantum Supremacy” is making the media rounds. With increasingly powerful quantum computers now available for programmers to utilise in the cloud, it’s important to learn about the benefits and challenges quantum computing will bring to your company. So why is quantum computing such a big deal? Here are five key areas quantum computing is set to revolutionise.
Quantum Search & Machine Learning
With quantum computings raw power you can see how artificial intelligence will come alive. AI relies on large datasets of images, video and text, but with an overabundance of data being created every second by devices in the billions our ability to process this data has outpaced the capacity of classical computing. Untold mountains of data are slowly rotting away but when quantum computing comes into the fold we can use this data to generate new insights. The ability to search through mountains of unstructured data in the blink of an eye will force artificial intelligence into a new era.
Quantum Image Processing
From pixelated role playing games to photorealistic AAA titles, computer graphics has long been at the forefront of computing innovation. Quantum Image Processing (QIP) is an emerging field that employs quantum computers to enhance image processing capabilities. Although it’s still early days, QIP is already offering exciting examples of how quantum computers will impact computer graphics. QIP researchers are currently working on problems such as Quantum Supersampling (an important step in producing usable computer graphics) and Quantum Image Stabilisation (essential for producing smooth video).
Todays most widely used encryption systems are based on algorithms that rely on finding the prime factors of very large numbers. This works because classical computers have a very hard time factoring large numbers; they simply cannot run enough simultaneous calculations to find the prime factors and break modern encryption schemes. Quantum computers will not be subject to the same limitations, potentially creating a very real cybersecurity risk if large enough numbers can be factored. What can we do if modern encryption is suddenly rendered useless and our private information is laid bare?
Luckily quantum proof encryption algorithms are an emerging area of research with cryptographers racing to create algorithms that will hopefully save us from this eventuality. In the very near future post-quantum cryptography will be essential for maintaining liberty as governments and other malicious actors will certainly abuse the power of quantum computing.
Quantum Drug Discovery & Protein Folding
It takes an average of 10 years for a pharmaceutical company to discover a new drug and make it available on the market. One of the factors that inhibits pharmaceutical scientists is the limit on analysing larger molecules. Classical computers are able to run comparisons of smaller molecules but since quantum computing promises to compare much larger ones it will greatly improve the drug discovery process and in turn improve the human condition.
A related problem quantum computing may solve is protein folding. Classical computers have long struggled to provide the massive computing power needed to accurately model the folding pattern of proteins based on the amino acid chain because they’re just too complex. Projects such as Folding@home have sought to address this problem by crowd sourcing idle computing resources but more is always required. Quantum computers could revolutionise this process, providing researchers with valuable insights into cancer, alzheimers and many other diseases.
Quantum Logistics & Scheduling Simulations
If you have a thousand vehicles in your company and each is required to make 10 stops within a given area, how do you ensure all of them take the most efficient route? Such problems are extremely hard to solve even with modern classical computers. Quantum computers could change this, for example the Volkswagen Group quantum computing simulations are looking at optimising traffic patterns to avoid traffic jams, shorten wait times and decrease overall vehicle emissions. Real time optimisation of thousands of vehicles requires computing power beyond what todays fastest computers can provide, but it’s well suited to quantum computers.