Quantum computing has been hailed as a technology that can outperform classical computing in both speed and memory usage, potentially opening the way to making predictions of physical phenomena not previously possible.
Many see quantum computing's advent as marking a paradigm shift from classical, or conventional, computing. Conventional computers process information in the form of digital bits (0s and 1s), while quantum computers deploy quantum bits (qubits) to store quantum information in values between 0 and 1. Under certain conditions this ability to process and store information in qubits can be used to design quantum algorithms that drastically outperform their classical counterparts. Notably, quantum's ability to store information in values between 0 and 1 makes it difficult for classical computers to perfectly emulate quantum ones.
However, quantum computers are finicky and have a tendency to lose information. Moreover, even if information loss can be avoided, it is difficult to translate it into classical information -- which is necessary to yield a useful computation.
Classical computers suffer from neither of those two problems. Moreover, cleverly devised classical algorithms can further exploit the twin challenges of information loss and translation to mimic a quantum computer with far fewer resources than previously thought -- as recently reported in a research paper in the journal PRX Quantum.
The scientists' results show that classical computing can be reconfigured to perform faster and more accurate calculations than state-of-the-art quantum computers.
This breakthrough was achieved with an algorithm that keeps only part of the information stored in the quantum state -- and just enough to be able to accurately compute the final outcome.
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