Robert Schoelkopf is at the forefront of a worldwide effort to build the world’s first quantum computer. Such a machine, if it can be built, would use the seemingly magical principles of quantum mechanics to solve problems today’s computers never could.I occasionally get critics who say that I am ignorant to say taht quantum computers are impossible, because researchers have been building them for 20 years.
No, they haven't. As the article says, there is a race to build the first one, and it is still unknown whether such a machine can be built.
Three giants of the tech world — Google, IBM, and Intel — are using a method pioneered by Mr. Schoelkopf, a Yale University professor, and a handful of other physicists as they race to build a machine that could significantly accelerate everything from drug discovery to artificial intelligence. So does a Silicon Valley start-up called Rigetti Computing. And though it has remained under the radar until now, those four quantum projects have another notable competitor: Robert Schoelkopf.Apparently there is plenty of private money chasing this pipe dream. There is no need for Congress to fund it.
After their research helped fuel the work of so many others, Mr. Schoelkopf and two other Yale professors have started their own quantum computing company, Quantum Circuits.
Based just down the road from Yale in New Haven, Conn., and backed by $18 million in funding from the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and others, the start-up is another sign that quantum computing — for decades a distant dream of the world’s computer scientists — is edging closer to reality.
“In the last few years, it has become apparent to us and others around the world that we know enough about this that we can build a working system,” Mr. Schoelkopf said. “This is a technology that we can begin to commercialize.”
Quantum computing systems are difficult to understand because they do not behave like the everyday world we live in. But this counterintuitive behavior is what allows them to perform calculations at rate that would not be possible on a typical computer.This is a reasonable explanation, but Scott Aaronson would say that it is wrong because it overlooks some of the subtleties of quantum complexity. He gave a whole TED Talk on the subject. I wonder if anyone in the audience got the point of his obscure hair-splitting.
Today’s computers store information as “bits,” with each transistor holding either a 1 or a 0. But thanks to something called the superposition principle — behavior exhibited by subatomic particles like electrons and photons, the fundamental particles of light — a quantum bit, or “qubit,” can store a 1 and a 0 at the same time. This means two qubits can hold four values at once. As you expand the number of qubits, the machine becomes exponentially more powerful.
With this technique, they have shown that, every three years or so, they can improve coherence times by a factor of 10. This is known as Schoelkopf’s Law, a playful ode to Moore’s Law, the rule that says the number of transistors on computer chips will double every two years. ...On the verge? There are only 7 weeks left in 2017. I say that Google still will not have quantum supremacy 5 years from now.
In recent months, after grabbing a team of top researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Google indicated it is on the verge of using this method to build a machine that can achieve “quantum supremacy” — when a quantum machine performs a task that would be impossible on your laptop or any other machine that obeys the laws of classical physics.