What’s your reaction when you hear ‘quantum computing’? Confusion? It shouldn’t be. Part of a new IBM university initiative involves quantum computing, essentially using new computers to solve massive probabilistic problems where regular computers are overwhelmed by too many options to simulate.
Quantum computing doesn’t have to be so inaccessible -- it’s all in how it’s explained and the types of problems it can solve. Here’s some advice from tech entrepreneur Vaclav Vincalek on how a general audience might be able to understand quantum computing:
“Quantum computers help innovators find solutions where the number of options is so great that it is not feasible to calculate with today’s technology.
“That’s why biotech is particularly interested in quantum computing technology. For instance, Menten AI, aside from looking for a cure for Covid-19, is looking at discovering new drugs that sit between small molecules and large biologics.”
From drug-making, to batteries, to logistics, quantum computing could help scientists, manufacturers and warehousers to immediately test thousands of mathematical equations for instant solutions to almost incalculable probable options in their field. As Vaclav mentions, this is where regular computers miss the mark. For instance, a fun example of a type of problem quantum computers can solve, that regular one’s can’t, is the knapsack problem. This is “basically, trying to fit the most (or best) stuff efficiently into a limited space — which applies to logistics companies, loading container ships, packing aircraft, financial institutions and more,” Vincalek recently wrote for Forbes Tech Council.
“For logistics companies, you then have the facility location problem: Even if you aren’t interested in mathematics, the problem is often exactly what it sounds like. Where should you locate a warehouse so it can most efficiently take materials and distribute them to retailers or end users? Did we say distribution? Optimizing the whole supply chain management can save the operator millions (and also reduce costs and annoyance of the people whose trips are minimized),” Vincalek explained.
So remember, you don’t need to be a technologist to understand what kind of problems quantum computers can solve. It’s all about knowing what you can simulate and discover from a new type of computer that instantly sifts through millions of different options that traditional computers can’t possibly solve alone.