What is a Quantum Computer?

Edwin SolisArrayFire, Quantum Computing Leave a Comment

Quantum computing has been a growing area of computer science over the last few years. Thanks to leaps in material engineering, physics, and noise reduction algorithms, the possibility of constructing a fully-fledged quantum computer in the future grows nearer. 

IBM’s Eagle Quantum Computer – Credit: IBM

Like the computers we use daily, a quantum computer is a machine that can perform computations with given data. However, unlike classical computers, they are characterized by using Quantum Mechanical Principles in the data storage and logic of those computations.

Among some of these novel Quantum Mechanical properties, these are the keys ones:

  • Unit of Information: Use of Quantum Bit or Qubit to store information
  • Reversibility: Operations can be reversed
  • Superposition: Representing multiple states simultaneously
  • Quantum Entanglement: “Spooky action at a distance”
  • Quantum Computation: Possibly faster…?

Even if Quantum Computers have many advantages, including possibly being faster, are classical computers insufficient?

As innovation in new technologies grows in fields such as finance, medicine, and artificial intelligence, the exponential growth in the amount of data and the complexity of problems solved is increasing demands on classical computers. These demands are straining the limits of classical computing and its development. Moore’s law, the idea that the transistor count inside processors doubles every two years, has helped to keep up with expanding these limits, but we can be sure it will not last forever. It is becoming increasingly difficult to continue improving computing performance using classical methods.

To meet these growing computational needs, a new type of computing is required. This is where quantum computers come in. Because of their ability to process information in multiple states simultaneously, quantum computers have the potential to perform certain types of calculations much faster than classical computers. By harnessing the unique properties of quantum mechanics, quantum computers can help address the exponential growth in computational demands, allowing us to tackle increasingly complex problems and make discoveries in various fields.

Currently, quantum computing has been growing in many areas where computing power is urgently needed. One area where quantum computing is making a significant impact is cryptography. Quantum computers have the potential to quickly factor in large numbers, making many traditional forms of encryption vulnerable. As a result, researchers are working on developing new encryption algorithms that are secure against quantum computers. 

Another area where quantum computing is being applied is the simulation of quantum systems. Because quantum computers are based on the principles of quantum mechanics, they are well-suited for simulating the behavior of quantum systems, such as molecules and materials. This can help researchers to better understand the properties of these systems and develop new materials with improved properties. Additionally, quantum computing is used in finance to optimize portfolios and reduce risk.

QCD Simulation – Credit: ARC Special Research Centre for the Subatomic Structure of Matter

These growing needs for computational power are driving the development of quantum computing. As the field continues to mature, new applications will likely emerge that take advantage of the unique capabilities of quantum computers.

To understand how quantum computing can provide these advantages, we need to learn more about quantum mechanics and how to mathematically represent quantum states, which will be discussed in the next post.


Nielsen, M., & Chuang, I. (2010). Quantum Computation and Quantum Information: 10th Anniversary Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511976667

Mark Jackson, 6 Things Quantum Computers will be Incredibly Useful for. (2017). https://singularityhub.com/2017/06/25/6-things-quantum-computers-will-be-incredibly-useful-for/

IBM’s Eagle Quantum Computer Image. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03476-5

QCD Simulation. ARC Special Research Centre for the Subatomic Structure of Matter Image. http://www.physics.adelaide.edu.au/cssm/lattice/

ArrayFire Quantum Simulator. https://github.com/arrayfire/afQuantumSim

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