There’s a lot of hype and investment being made in quantum computing. Not to mention the future projections for the problems that quantum can help to solve more efficiently and by providing a range of answers to choose from, instead of just one.
But quantum computing is a new paradigm which requires new skills in programming. The range of methodologies being applied to quantum computing is also exploding as researchers find new routes to qubit stabilization, error correction, and entanglement. This means even more learning and skills development is necessary.
All this growth in quantum is causing a skills shortage. This is a similar situation to what we saw with the fast evolution of cybersecurity and data science. A recent search on LinkedIn revealed more than 5,000 jobs listed for quantum computing—just in the United States.
Below, we answer three of the most common, non-technical questions we hear from businesses looking to get involved in, and understand, quantum computing.
1. What types of problems are best suited for quantum computing?
For a subset of problems, quantum mechanics and quantum computing make a dramatic difference. Primarily due to the qubit’s ability to be in superposition (many states at once) and the computer’s ability to measure diverse probabilities.
Examples include, but are not limited to:
Supply chain and logistics. Whether you’re optimizing truck deliveries to and from your business, managing stock levels, optimizing oil and gas supplies, or seeking more effective airport scheduling, quantum computing promises to accelerate and improve computational insights so you make better and more informed business decisions.
Life Science and Pharma. Quantum computing is expected to play a prominent role in life science applications. Today, Qatalyst’s community detection capabilities can assist in a wide range of application areas where understanding the interrelatedness of common attributes is key to discovery.
Cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is an ideal candidate for quantum computing because of the complexity of unstructured data that must be repetitively and efficiently analyzed to prevent threats and respond quickly to intrusions.
Government and research. Quantum technologies are already being deployed and evaluated in government and applied research. Opportunities include: stimulating molecular phase transitions, speeding military transport of equipment and personnel across changing terrain and weather conditions, and devising evacuation strategies to reduce the loss of life following a natural disaster.
2. What’s the best “on-ramp” to quantum computing and software?
When you read the quantum coverage in media, you might think that quantum computers in production environments are right around the corner. That’s not the case. Why?
Quantum computing hardware can’t yet scale to hold the voluminous data required for complex computations. While the range of dates for when “production scale” quantum computers vary by vendor or source, don’t expect to see them running large volume problems in standalone environments in the near term. If ever.
Quantum computers have a very specific role in the world today, and tomorrow.
They will not replace classic computers. Classical is designed for transactional processing that quantum computers cannot accomplish. Classical can also run the workflows and applications needed for business operations, while quantum computers process the complex computations and modeling that these classical applications need as part of their overall processing.
Quantum computers will add tremendous value to both standalone classical processing and “hybrid” classical and quantum solutions. Quantum computers can analyze probabilistic real-world scenarios in ways classical systems can never hope to accomplish.
By joining the two systems together, quantum systems can assist classical systems to find more and better answers, process problems more quickly, and deliver lower costs for the organization.
We believe the hybrid model of QPU/CPU processing will be the dominant architecture for the near term. When we deliver a hybrid approach commercially, SaaS users will access it transparently. No programming, no low-level coding. Simply seamless access to more and more powerful processing and increasingly excellent answers.
3. What are the biggest differences between classical and quantum programming?
There are so many differences! Quantum computing and software are a completely new paradigm. Even more different than the move from vacuum tubes to silicon that has happened in some of our lifetimes.
The simplest way to think about it is this. Classical computers are binary – meaning they process a single stream of 1s and 0s. All programs are run serially, meaning the stream of data is processed by an application as it is selected from data storage (a database, cache, etc.). Data is either a 1 or a 0, on or off. All the time.
Even in massively parallel machines, we are still programming single threads of data processing, then joining them together (oversimplifying here for comparison purposes).
Quantum computers are multi-dimensional. Data resides in 1s and 0s in a multi-dimensional space. And get this: a piece of data can be a 1 and a 0 at the same time – depending on what’s happening in the other dimensions that impact that piece of data. (again, this is a very oversimplified explanation of the concept of “superposition.”)
This multi-dimensional space can be “energized” to create probabilistic models of potential outcomes to business optimization problems. To do all of this, quantum programs have to include a variety of new and different coding to manage the processing and data in the way quantum computers need.
Click here for more on classical and quantum computers.
The Bottom Line:
Quantum computing is here, moving toward a myriad of business applications faster than you may think.
Even if pure quantum computing is years away, applications for the use of quantum techniques with classical computers are already being piloted to solve problems for the industries mentioned in question 1 above, and more. It’s one of the reasons why our researchers, physicists, and scientists at QCI developed Qatalyst. To empower subject matter experts to use quantum to solve problems without the need to master quantum programming.
Helping those who have career aspirations in quantum excel is why we created QUBT University.
Quantum computing has an exciting future that will become a reality faster than you think. The time to get started with quantum is now.