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Rumors hint that Google has accomplished quantum supremacy

Reports suggest a quantum computer has surpassed standard computers on a specific type of calculation

A leaked paper suggests that Google has achieved a milestone known as quantum supremacy, using a quantum computer to perform a calculation that couldn’t be achieved even with the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

It’s a hotly anticipated goal, and one intended to mark the beginning of a new era of quantum computation (SN: 6/29/17). But it’s also largely symbolic: The calculation in question serves no practical purpose and is designed to be difficult for classical computers, standard computers that are not rooted in quantum physics.

On September 20, the Financial Times reported that a scientific paper, briefly published on a NASA website before being removed, claims that Google has built a quantum computer that achieved quantum supremacy. It’s a benchmark that the company’s quantum researchers, led by physicist John Martinis of the University of California, Santa Barbara, have set their sights on for years (SN: 3/5/18). An apparent plain-text version of the paper, posted anonymously on the site Pastebin, has since been circulating among scientists and on Twitter. A spokesperson for Google declined to comment to Science News.

According to the Pastebin version of the paper, Google created a quantum computer named Sycamore with 54 quantum bits called qubits, 53 of which were functional. The researchers used it to perform a series of operations in 200 seconds that would take a supercomputer about 10,000 years to complete. (...) Read More

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