July 16, 2024

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IBM claims quantum computing research milestone

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Quantum computing is starting to fulfil its promise as a crucial scientific research tool, IBM researchers claim, as the US tech group attempts to quell fears that the technology will fail to match high hopes for it.

The company is due to unveil 10 projects on Monday that point to the power of quantum calculation when twinned with established techniques such as conventional supercomputing, said Dario Gil, its head of research. 

“For the first time now we have large enough systems, capable enough systems, that you can do useful technical and scientific work with it,” Gil said in an interview.

The papers presented on Monday are the work of IBM and partners including the Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Tokyo. They focus mainly on areas such as simulating quantum physics and solving problems in chemistry and materials science.

Expectations that quantum systems would by now be close to commercial uses prompted a wave of funding for the technology in recent years. But signs that business applications are further off than expected have led to warnings of a possible “quantum winter” of waning investor confidence and financial backing.

IBM’s announcements suggest the technology’s main applications have not yet fully extended to the broad range of commercialisable computing tasks many in the field want to see.

“It’s going to take a while before we go from scientific value to, let’s say, business value,” said Jay Gambetta, IBM’s vice-president of quantum. “But in my opinion the difference between research and commercialisation is getting tighter.”

The IBM researchers said recent advances had reinforced their confidence in quantum computing’s longer-run potential, although they made no prediction about when it would enter the commercial mainstream. Instead, they have…

2023-12-04 07:00:07

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