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Quantum Computing Has a Noise Problem

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A quantum computer.

Algorithmiq is developing ways to counteract the noise that afflicts quantum computers: not the whir of a cooling fan, but the tiny environmental changes that can nudge qubits out of a delicate state called superposition.

Credit: Bartlomiej Wroblewski/Getty Images

Quantum computers have a huge problem. Or, to be more accurate, lots of incredibly tiny ones. These futuristic devices promise to revolutionize everything from the financial industry to drug discovery by tapping into the power of quantum uncertainty—instead of using bits like your laptop or phone does, quantum computers use qubits, which means they'll be able to perform certain tasks much more quickly than traditional computers and may be better at simulating natural processes.

Tech giants including Google, Microsoft, and IBM are racing to build quantum devices, but collectively the field is mired in an era known in the business as "noisy-intermediate scale quantum," or NISQ. Today's quantum computers are delicate devices that can be thrown off course by the slightest environmental interference: They're slow, small-scale, and not that accurate, which means that right now they're kind of useless.

Sabrina Maniscalco is hoping to change that. She is cofounder and CEO of Algorithmiq, one of a handful of startups developing software for the noisy quantum computers we have access to today. "Software and algorithms for near-term devices are key in order to unveil and unlock useful industrial applications," she says.

From Wired
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