What is quantum computing?

Read Time: 2 minutes
Games Round Up: Quantum Computing | Wilson Center

Quantum computers could spur the development of new breakthroughs in science, medications to save lives, machine learning methods to diagnose illnesses sooner, materials to make more efficient devices and structures, financial strategies to live well in retirement, and algorithms to quickly direct resources such as ambulances.

But what exactly is quantum computing, and what does it take to achieve these quantum breakthroughs? Here’s what you need to know.

A new kind of computing

We experience the benefits of classical computing every day. However, there are challenges that today’s systems will never be able to solve. For problems above a certain size and complexity, we don’t have enough computational power on Earth to tackle them.

To stand a chance at solving some of these problems, we need a new kind of computing. Universal quantum computers leverage the quantum mechanical phenomena of superposition and entanglement to create states that scale exponentially with number of qubits, or quantum bits.

Learn more about one of the first, most promising application areas of quantum computing:

Introduction to Quantum Computing

New to quantum computing? check out this video from WIRED with Dr. Talia Gershon, Senior Manager of Q Experiences at IBM Research.

In it, she explains quantum computing to a child, a teenager, a college student and a graduate student, and then discusses quantum computing myths and challenges with Professor Steve Girvin from Yale University.

Quantum computing fundamentals

All computing systems rely on a fundamental ability to store and manipulate information. Current computers manipulate individual bits, which store information as binary 0 and 1 states. Quantum computers leverage quantum mechanical phenomena to manipulate information. To do this, they rely on quantum bits, or qubits.

Here, learn about the quantum properties leveraged by qubits, how they’re used to compute, and how quantum systems scale.

quantum volume isometric illustration