IBM debunked claims of achieving the so-called "quantum supremacy" made by Google Wednesday. In a blog post, published pre-emptively on Monday, the tech company says Google dramatically underestimated the capabilities of the world's most powerful supercomputer ar the Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee.
“Google’s experiment is an excellent demonstration of the progress in superconducting-based quantum computing,” the IBM scientists stated in a blog post. “But it should not be viewed as proof that quantum computers are ‘supreme’ over classical computers.”
On Wednesday, a team of scientists from Google AI Quantum, joined by scientists from numerous universities and institutes, published a report in Nature claiming to have achieved what is referred to as a “quantum supremacy” – a proof that quantum computers are capable of solving a task impossible with traditional computers.
Great work from the Google research team in Santa Barbara in achieving quantum supremacy using 53 qubits in a Sycamore processor: https://t.co/yFlust2qv0#tech #ai #machinelearning #quantumcomputing pic.twitter.com/M8l7G8Io8j— Ryan Mansergh, PhD (@n3ur0) October 23, 2019
To prove their claim, Google used its Sycamore quantum processor to solve an obscure mathematical task of checking randomness in a sequence of numbers. Sycamore is reported to have crunched through the program in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. The scientists claim that the same task would take the Oak Ridge supercomputer a whopping 10,000 years to compute.
Google's Sycamore, a quantum processor, contains 54 qubits. Qubits need to be synchronised using a quantum effect known as entanglement, which Albert Einstein termed "spooky action at a distance". pic.twitter.com/AKZ7FhRiEa— timothy soar (@TimothySoar) October 23, 2019
Due to the obvious impracticality of the claimed time span, the scientists conclude their quantum processor has achieved “quantum supremacy.”
However, IBM's post says Oak Ridge supercomputer can actually solve the same randomness problem in just 2.5 days, if programmed correctly. While long, 2.5 days are still feasible, and therefore the “quantum supremacy” claim is unfounded. IBM also noted that Oak Ridge, while slower, would make fewer mistakes in the process.
“Because the original meaning of the term “quantum supremacy,” as proposed by John Preskill in 2012, was to describe the point where quantum computers can do things that classical computers can’t, this threshold has not been met,” the blog affirmed.