Quantum Supremacy Scientific Research Report
Back to portfolio

Quantum Supremacy Scientific Research Report

This project required me to write a scientific research paper on a topic related to Computer Science. I decided to write about Quantum Computing since this topic interests me. Although report writing is not my favourite task, this is my best-written work and received a strong First.

Report Snippet

The concept of a quantum computer evolved out of the issues raised by Richard Feynman in 1982 in his paper entitled Computer Simulations of Physics, which ponders the question “Can we simulate physics on a computer?”. He addressed several issues associated with conventional computer simulations of physics, most notably quantum physics and the need to improve methods for representing large amounts of electrons in different states. Feynman argued that although simulating physics on a traditional machine is theoretically possible, it is impractical due to the computing cost rising exponentially as the simulation grows in size (Feynman, 1982). Therefore, Feynman proposed that to replicate real-world physics, we would need to design a machine “of a different kind”, a quantum programmable machine that could imitate the laws of quantum mechanics, namely a quantum computer.

The term quantum supremacy was born out of Feynman’s ideas. The Google A.I. team states that the realisation of quantum supremacy is when a quantum computer provides a dramatic increase in speed compared to all known classical algorithms (Arute et al., 2019). However, IBM states that quantum supremacy is achieved when a quantum computer has solved a problem that classical computers cannot solve (Palan et al., 2019). Thus, Google A.I. asserts that quantum supremacy is defined by benchmarking against conventional computers. In contrast, IBM asserts that it occurs when a quantum computer can perform tasks that a conventional computer cannot. IBM’s definition seems to correlate better with Feynman’s original proposal that a quantum programmable machine would be required to simulate the quantum world. For this paper, it is assumed that quantum supremacy is achieved when quantum computers progress past intriguing scientific endeavours and begin performing tasks that classical computers are incapable of performing or are incapable of performing quickly enough for practical applications.

This paper will begin by providing context for some of the concepts underlying quantum computing and how it operates. Following that, a debate will occur about what the team headed by the Google A.I. has achieved and whether or not their claim of reaching quantum supremacy with their Sycamore processor is valid since they received a large amount of criticism from IBM. The paper will provide a section discussing the prospects of quantum computing, whether it will eventually replace classical computers or supplement them ...