Quantum computing is the process in which computers operate at the quantum level with atomic-level bits, called quantum bits or qubits. Quantum computers are much more powerful than classical computers, able to carry out tasks faster and more efficiently than classical computers and, at times, tasks that are not possible to do with a regular computer.

Quantum computers run on the smallest scale and in physics, this is called quantum mechanics, where things behave very differently than the normal scale of things. This introduces a behaviour to the qubit, which is different from normal computer bits. The value of a normal bit can only be either a ‘1’ or a ‘0’, but a qubit has uncertain values. You can compare this to a spinning coin where it is both head and tails at the same time or somewhere in between – a property called superposition.

This superposition of a qubit allows much more powerful computing power, as it can run multiple tasks at once. Let’s say in a classical computer, it runs 0001. In quantum computing, every single bit is both ‘1’ and ‘0’, which allows it to run exponentially. For example, in a game of chess, a traditional computer would have to find every possible path, one at a time, until it reaches a final decision. A quantum computer, however, can explore all the paths at the same time, enabling exponentially faster and more efficient computing.

Quantum Computing in action. Photo credit: Wikipedia

At this early moment in the development of this new technology, there are two classifications of quantum computers, based on their computing power. The first one is the Quantum Advantage, where it could run tasks that are also possible with classical computers, but in a faster (hundreds or even thousands of times faster) and more powerful way. Quantum Supremacy, the second one, is where quantum computers can do tasks that are not even possible to be done in classical computers.

Quantum computing can potentially help solve the most complicated and complex tasks in many industries, such as realistic simulation of weathers for more accurate forecasts, fraud detection in real-time with no errors and to crack the most complex cryptography algorithms.

Nevertheless, this technology is still being actively developed and right now, there is still a lot of questions (as well as possibilities) as to what can truly be achieved once this technology matures, and we still don’t have a definite date when humanity can use it extensively.