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Google Nudges Ahead in the Race for Quantum Supremacy

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is already making its way to building the ultimate computer breakthrough of all time. The tech giant came up with big plans with regard to quantum computing and it’s claiming to perform processes that no existing computers can. Reaching the full potential of quantum supremacy is still an impossibility because although there are already running quantum computers, they can only harness a few number of qubits which in turn limits their performance.

The company is planning to tailor their plan based on simulated coin flips. To paint the picture a bit clearer, simulating 50 coin tosses would simply require selecting 50 times in a row. Ordinary computers simulate by choosing one random number from two stored numbers each time and since computers work sequentially, choosing 50 numbers all at once is not possible.

It’s also impossible to know if a coin resulted into heads or tails if there is no knowledge about the other coins otherwise known as the phenomenon of quantum entanglement. Quantum sampling, on the other hand, is the problem resulting from the simulation of coin tosses with quantum entanglement. To address the issues of quantum sampling, Google contends that it would involve storing all the possible configurations of the 50 coin tosses for them to be thrown at the same time.It would take thousands of terabytes for an ordinary computer to cover all the possible configurations.


Quantum computers which are based on qubits can store two states at the same time. Google also contends that quantum sampling can be easily processed by a quantum computer. As compared to ordinary computers, it can store the probability distribution of the possible configurations using one qubit for one coin.

Quantum sampling was demonstrated with 9 coins using their 9-qubit quantum computer and it showed a high level of accuracy. The Google group stated in their proposal, “If similar error rates are achievable in future devices with around 50 qubits, we will be able to explore quantum dynamics that are inaccessible otherwise.” The only problem standing between their proposal and reality is building a 50-qubit computer.

Google is making significant advancements in the development of its quantum computers and has already done the necessary preparatory work in building a large-scale one. Jacob Taylor of the University of Maryland said that Google has already completed the initial work required to build extensive quantum computers. He also stated, “They’ve demonstrated that the obvious pitfalls are largely accounted for.” According to Scott Aaronson of the University of Texas based in Austin, the search giant has been delivering many of the expectations. He also said, “The truth is, the Google group has such a strong record that if they say they’re going to do it, people pay attention.”

However, for people like computer scientist Itay Hen of the University of Southern California, quantum sampling is not the right problem to be discussed when it comes to showing quantum supremacy. Hen said, “It is unclear whether what they claim to show is quantum supremacy.” He also stated that “You have to prove that classical computers can’t do it.” Hen also believes that existing computers can simulate many crucial quantum-mechanic systems because it’s not mandatory to save all information to simulate a system.

Currently however, there is still no existing proof that classical computers cannot simulate the same as quantum computers although there are many concepts out there that are accepted even without formal proof.

Reference: New Scientist