Google says it has made a new breakthrough in the computer world with a quantum computer that has solved a complex issue in minutes.
Researchers at Google expect quantum computers in a few years to lead to advances in fields such as artificial intelligence, materials science and chemistry, according to Reuters.
The company is in a race with rivals such as IBM and Microsoft to commercialize the technology and sell it through cloud computing units.
"We hope that when people start using them and lose the stability of the performance and the cloud interface, they're excited about what we do at Google," said John Martinez, the company's top quantum mechanic.
The official confirmation of the achievement in a research published in the journal Nature, after a controversy for weeks after the leak of a draft research, on whether the "quantum supremacy" announced by Google is real.
For decades, computer scientists have sought to exploit the principles of quantum mechanics, which govern the behavior of subatomic particles that can exist simultaneously in different situations - unlike the everyday world that people perceive.
So while conventional computing relies on bits, or ones and zeros, quantum computing uses quantum bits, or qubits, which can be one or zero at the same time.
This characteristic, called superposition, doubles exponentially as the quibits are intertwined. The larger the number of qubits that can be organized together, the greater the capacity of quantum computers.
But there is a dilemma: researchers in quantum mechanics need to cool qubits to near absolute zero in order to reduce the fluctuations - or "noise" - that cause errors to leak into their calculations. In this extremely difficult task, Google, with the help of liquid helium for cooling, has made significant progress.
Chief Executive Sundar Pichai compared the achievement with the construction of the first rocket to leave Earth's airspace and touch the edge of space, a progress that made outer space travel possible.
"For those who work in science and technology like us, it's the moment of the first successful application we've been waiting for - the most important achievement so far in the task of making quantum computing a reality," Beechai wrote in a blog.
Google created a microprocessor, called Sycamore, with 54 qubits. The new processor is about 10 millimeters thick and is made of aluminum and indium parts between two silicon chips.
In their experiment, the researchers were able to make 53 qubits - interconnected in the form of an interconnected network - interact in quantum mode.
They gave quantum computers a complex task of identifying repetitive patterns in a series of seemingly random numbers. The computer has solved the problem in three minutes and 20 seconds. They estimate that the same issue will take 10,000 years for the supercomputer to solve it - the most powerful of its kind in the world today.
"This dramatic increase in speed compared to all known conventional algorithms is a test of quantum supremacy for this specific computing task, which promises to launch a highly anticipated computational model," the team, led by Frank Arrott of Google's Artificial Intelligence division, wrote.
Call to wait
While peer-reviewed research has been well received, comparing William D. Oliver of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), published in Nature on the Wright brothers' first flight, skeptics say Google is inflating the achievement.
Researchers at IBM, Google's main competitor in quantum computing, said a supercomputer with an additional storage disk could solve the problem of random numbers in about two and a half days, with greater accuracy.
They said Google might risk misleading public opinion by suggesting that new computers would replace the list.
"Quantum computers will not" prevail "over traditionalism, but will work with them, because each has its own advantages," IBM's research director Dario Gel said in the blog.
Torsten Seibert, director of the quantum computing research program at the Fraunhofer Society for Applied Research in Germany, said Google had achieved impressive accuracy in its experiment, which contained a large number of quibits.
Ultimately, quantum computers will work hand in hand with traditional computers - each with its own strengths.
"We certainly agree with IBM's concerns about the general concept of 'quantum supremacy' in terms of progress in this field that is geared towards truly practical applications," he said, adding that progress was likely to be achieved through such a hybrid mix.