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Talk: Cats, qubits, and teleportation

The spooky world of quantum computing

By the time most of us reach adulthood, we know a few basic truths. Cats cannot be simultaneously alive and dead. Objects at opposite ends of the universe can’t affect each other. Computers operate on 0s and 1s, and that’s the most fundamental unit of information.

The premise of quantum computation is that these truths are partially wrong. Don’t worry, the cat part is mostly right, at least for actual cats, and nothing can travel faster than light.

Every day, we experience the benefits that classical computing brings to the world. But there are problems that today’s systems will never be able to solve, because they get exponentially harder to solve when the complexity grows even a little. For problems above a certain size, our classical machines run out of steam. We need a new kind of computing, and IBM is working on that with IBM Q.

Quantum computers, working with classical computers via the cloud, could enable discoveries in many disciplines: untangling chemical complexity to discover new medicines; optimising routes for vehicle deliveries; modelling finance to isolate global risk factors for better investments; more powerful machine learning searches of huge video databases; making cloud computing more secure.

Dr Holly Cummins is a full-stack developer and worldwide development leader in our IBM Cloud Garage. She is a frequent conference speaker, Java Champion, and author. She has degrees in Physics and Software Engineering, and a doctorate in Quantum Information from the University of Oxford.

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