Google wants NASA to help it prove quantum supremacy within a matter of months, according to a Space Act Agreement obtained by MIT Technology Review.
Quantum supremacy is the idea, so far undemonstrated, that a sufficiently powerful quantum computer will be able to complete certain mathematical calculations that classical supercomputers cannot. Proving it would be a big deal because it could kick-start a market for devices that might one day crack previously unbreakable codes, boost AI, improve weather forecasts, or model molecular interactions and financial systems in exquisite detail.
The agreement, signed in July, calls on NASA to “analyze results from quantum circuits run on Google quantum processors, and ... provide comparisons with classical simulation to both support Google in validating its hardware and establish a baseline for quantum supremacy.”
Google confirmed to MIT Technology Review that the agreement covered its latest 72-qubit quantum chip, called Bristlecone. Where classical computers store information in binary bits that definitely represent either 1 or 0, quantum computers use qubits that exist in an undefined state between 1 and 0. For some problems, using qubits should quickly provide solutions that could take classical computers much longer to compute.
Physicist John Martinis, who leads Google’s quantum computing effort, thinks that Bristlecone is capable of achieving quantum supremacy. Not everyone agrees. In May, researchers with Alibaba’s Data Infrastructure and Search Technology Division published a paper suggesting that classical computers running simulations could match its performance, and that quantum chips with lower error rates might be needed.To read more, click here.