NEW YORK: Google said on Wednesday that it had achieved a long-sought breakthrough called “quantum supremacy”, which could allow new kinds of computers to do calculations at speeds that are inconceivable with today’s technology.
In a paper published in Nature, Google said its quantum computer performed a task that isn’t possible with traditional computers. In this case, a mathematical calculation that the largest supercomputers could not complete in under 10,000 years was done in 3 minutes 20 seconds.
Scientists likened the announcement to the Wright brothers’ first plane flight in 1903 — proof that something is really possible even though it may be years before it can fulfil its potential.
Google’s paper became a bit of an internet mystery after it was published and then quickly unpublished online in late September. That brief appearance was enough to raise the hackles of researchers at competing companies. On Monday, IBM disputed Google’s claim that its quantum calculation could not be performed by a traditional computer. Other researchers dismissed the milestone because the calculation was notably esoteric. It generated random numbers using a quantum experiment that can’t necessarily be applied to other things.


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