The second quantum revolution
In the early 20th century, the first quantum revolution, pioneered by Einstein, Heisenberg and Schrödinger among others, gave birth to major inventions such as superconductivity, transistors, lasers and fiber-optic communications.
The second quantum revolution has started with the arrival of quantum technologies. Of these, quantum computing is a new type of computing that will be a major disruptive force over the coming decades.
From medicine to agriculture through finance and industries, quantum computing will impact many aspects of our lives. It will address the explosion of data generated by Big Data and the Internet of Things and it will generate major advances in deep learning and artificial intelligence.
What is quantum computing?
Quantum computing offers vast improvements over traditional computing in computation time, quality, cost and energy usage. Based on quantum physics, quantum computing is non-binary – which means that unlike traditional computing, it doesn’t provide a definite answer. Instead, it averages the right answer over multiple identical iterations and works with multiple states at the same time.
Even now, there are some processes and tasks that have been hard, if not impossible, to achieve using traditional computing. Quantum computing changes this. It redefines what is difficult and makes the once impossible possible, such as complex physics simulations and comprehensive data analysis on the Internet of Things. It alters the way we can approach major scientific and technological hurdles – and it can make research and industrial processes faster, better and cheaper.
Early business cases
One of the first applications of quantum computing is chemical simulations to simulate and predict physics and chemistry. These results could, for example, be used to create carbon capture catalysts to drastically reduce pollution or be used by biotechnology companies to model medicines and significantly speed up their times to market.
And there are many other applications. Aerodynamics in aircraft manufacturing, for instance, has been a challenging area for traditional computing. With quantum computing, aerodynamics can be fully modelled, saving billions per plane design. There are also applications for finance; banks conduct full numerical simulations to assess the
conditions of their whole enterprise. This highly intensive task now takes a day and can be done in just half an hour in the future, potentially saving millions of euros in a day. For companies in these sectors, these are easy business cases to make.
Commercial applications of quantum computing are expected to be a standard addition to high performance computing from 2020. By 2020-23, we expect to see many more applications: learning algorithms, major industrial platforms, pattern analysis for fraud protection, processing of high-volume data from 3D and 4D imaging that we don’t have the capacity for right now. And there are other quantum domains: quantum communication, making communications more secure than they have ever been; and quantum sensing to dramatically increase the sensitivity and effectiveness of sensors.
In this rapidly developing area, Atos has moved quickly to stay ahead of the curve. We are already exploring applications with major global companies and are looking to establish partnerships with leading research centers and universities. These are very exciting times
as quantum technologists all over the world prepare for this truly revolutionary and awe-inspiring technology to enter the mainstream.
Digital Vision for Supercomputing & Big Data
This article is part of the Atos Digital Vision for Supercomputing & Big Data opinion paper. The challenge for any organisation is how to turn data into tangible advantage. Becoming truly data-driven is perhaps our most definitive step into the digital age. In our Digital Vision for Supercomputing & Big Data, we explore the implications for organisations and what lies ahead.