The somersault of a qubit. The latest supercomputers can beat the cancer or destroy the world

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A group of physicists from Russia and the United States announced the achievement of the so-called quantum superiority. This means that they have created a computer device that uses the qubit (the smallest unit of information, the building block of a quantum computer) for the first time surpassed the power of familiar processors working on semiconductors.

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Not far off is the emergence of full-fledged quantum computers are capable of producing phenomenal calculations, which are not under the power of the most powerful computing machines. Experts believe that one who possesses such computer systems will receive the same advantage in the cold war era gave nuclear weapons.

And zero, and unit

To understand what a qubit and its benefits, remember store information in electronic devices that we use every day. Whether you’re shooting photos on a smartphone, see whether a DVD or listen to music — in all cases you are dealing with digital signal, where data is represented as a sequence of zeros and ones. Minimal unit of such information is the bit — discharge, receiving one of two possible values, 0 or 1. It is also used in computing. But in quantum computers come to replace bits qubits.

“Qubit is a unit of quantum information. He, like bat, there are two main States, however, in addition, can be realized their superposition, which are infinitely many, says senior researcher of the laboratory of artificial quantum systems MIPT Ivan Khrapach. — Therefore, the state of a qubit is infinite.”

Quantum physics is the science for understanding daunting. How to imagine that the particle can simultaneously be in two different States? But in quantum physics is exactly what happens. Qubit — it seems incredible — is also able to simultaneously become zero, and one. And also take all intermediate values (this is called superposition). In other words, two major state — 0 and 1 — like overlap, and in different proportions. Imagine that you mix white and black paint. How many shades have the resulting gray? Yes, plenty. Same thing with the qubit.

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Now recall how the classical computer works when dealing with very large amounts of data. It just iterates through all possible solutions until you find the right one. A quantum computer is looking for the solution in parallel. It not scans the options one after the other, and if he sees them all at once, in a moment. Indeed, in the quantum world everything happens at the same time. It is fantastic and speeds up the process for cumbersome calculations take seconds.

That is the unusual properties of a qubit, its ability to simultaneously become zero, and one, gives the quantum computer is the amazing computing power. And with the increase in the number of qubits increases it dramatically. If you create a device with the capacity of 300 qubits it is equivalent to the classical computer with a number of bits equal… the number of atoms in the Universe.

Such a machine can solve the most complicated cyber challenges, which can only stand in front of humanity. For computations that require years or even decades of operation of a conventional computer, she’ll spend a few minutes.


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Stubborn qubit

Progress in this field of physics is so rapid that it is time to talk about quantum miracle. Even some few years ago, scientists did not believe that it is possible to create a device with a capacity of more than 20 qubits. The difficulty is that qubits “stubborn” — hard to read information. And they are egoists “do not favor” working together. If you force the qubits to work together in one system, they “rebel” and reduce the time of your life.

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However, last year at the International conference on quantum technologies, held in Moscow, announced the creation of a quantum computer qubit 51. He became the most powerful computing device in the world. The authors — scientists from the Russian quantum center and Harvard (USA).

The head of this research group, Professor Mikhail Lukin explains the technology they used, different from the usual. Instead of superconductors in the course went the so-called cold atoms. It turned out that individual atoms (if they are cooled to very low temperatures and to keep in a laser trap) can become qubits, demonstrating the required properties. This allowed the scientists to create world’s largest quantum computer at this stage to beat the colleagues from other research groups, including IBM and Google.

However, after a month on the creation of the simulator a little more power at 53 of a qubit is a declared physics at the University of Maryland (USA). Not far behind the Chinese — they have succeeded in signal processing, quantum device. Obviously, in the world there is a real “quantum race”. And it can be compared to the space race of the twentieth century.

“I think in 5-10 years in many areas of human activity to do without quantum technologies will be impossible,” — says Lukin. Where they useful?

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As has been said, a quantum computer gives an advantage for large computing when you have to process huge amounts of data. For example, it will be effective in the development of new drugs. Pharmacologists have long been used for this computer simulation, with the help of find a molecule, to derive the drug. A quantum system will help you to quickly compare, these molecules, choose the most promising, analyze its properties and to predict the effects on the body. Experts believe that this method will be found a cure for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and even cancer.

Threatened all passwords

Other obvious application is the modeling of new materials with desired properties, creating a high-speed Internet, optimization problems (in any area), new principles of communication and encryption. And that’s just in the field of cryptobatrachus lies the main threat posed by the “quantum revolution”.

“The basis of all modern cryptography lies such a thing as factorization of integers, — says Mikhail Lukin. Is the decomposition of number on Prime factors. To multiply two Prime numbers, even very large, it is easy. But to find which Prime factors divided by a predetermined large number, the task is incredibly difficult.”

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So complex that it can not cope even supercomputers. How not to handle them for this need very much time. For example, to decompose into Prime factors of 250-digit number will take thousands of years. Built-in encryption algorithm with RSA public key. It is believed that it is impossible to crack: who have a few extra thousand years?

However, in 1994 the American mathematician Peter Shor proposed algorithm of decomposition of number on Prime factors, later named after him. In fact, this scientist demonstrated how to reliably crack it would seem, the cryptosystem just a couple of minutes. However, Shor”s algorithm was written for a hypothetical quantum computer, which in those years seemed a distant dream. Now, after almost a quarter of a century, when science has approached the creation of this computing device, worry is not only academic cryptographers, but to all who in any way associated with data encryption — military, bankers, programmers, businessmen and, possibly, ordinary users of the Internet. After all our passwords, gives access to personal correspondence and other private information (including related Finance), can become easy prey for Shor”s algorithm running on a quantum computer. Sorting options will take a few seconds.

And, of course, closely related cryptosystems security services and the military. Their attention to quantum technologies is easily explained. The prize in this scientific race — not only the interests of medicine and pharmacy, but also the defense of the state.

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