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Chinese Quantum Computer claims ‘Quantum Advantage’

A team of physicists from China have built a quantum computer that casts a long shadow over Google’s boasts of a Quantum Supremacy breakthrough in 2019. The Chinese team’s new Quantum Computer completed a calculation 10 billion times faster than Google’s prototype could muster, or 100 trillion times faster than the world’s fastest supercomputer would be able to accomplish. As Nature magazine explains – “the team achieved within a few minutes what would take half the age of Earth on the best existing supercomputers” (an estimated 2.5 billion years of processing on the on Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer).

Jian-Wei Pan, from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, told Nature that the new quantum computer solved a boson-sampling problem – calculating the probability distribution of many boson particles – with potential practical applications in graph theory, quantum chemistry and machine learning.

Interestingly the researchers, lead by Pan and Chao-Yang Lu, chose to use photons as their qubits and their photonic quantum computer worked at room temperature. This is said to be the first demonstration of quantum advantage using photonics. However, in contrast to Google’s Sycamore, the Chinese team’s photonic circuit is not programmable so it would have to be redesigned to solve other problems.

So, phonic quantum computing shows that it is definitely worth pursuing and Christian Weedbrook, chief executive of quantum-computing startup Xanadu in Toronto, reckons that seeing its potential it could now “potentially leap-frog” alternative approaches.

For further reading, the Chinese team published their quantum computing test results in Science Magazine.

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