(NYTImes) Scott Aaronson, the David J. Bruton Centennial Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin, has published an editorial in the New York Times today discussing “Why Google’s Quantum Supremacy Milestone Matters”. Aaronson explains that he helped develop much of the theoretical underpinning for quantum supremacy experiments like Google’s in his work over the last decade. He shares that he I reviewed Google’s paper before it was published and is attempting to explain what it means in this editorial.
In Aaron’s view, the Google demonstration was a critical milestone on the way to the vision of quantum computing. The goal, with Google’s quantum supremacy experiment, was to perform a contrived calculation involving 53 qubits that computer scientists could be as confident as possible really would take something like 9 quadrillion steps to simulate with a conventional computer.
In its Nature paper, Google estimated that its sampling calculation — the one that takes 3 minutes and 20 seconds on Sycamore — would take 10,000 years for 100,000 conventional computers, running the fastest algorithms currently known.
IBM, which has built its own 53-qubit processor, posted a rebuttal. The company estimated that it could simulate Google’s device in a mere 2.5 days, a millionfold improvement over Google’s 10,000 years. To do so, it said, it would only need to commandeer the Oak Ridge Summit, the largest supercomputer that currently exists on earth.
Aaronson believes that Google’s demonstration is a crucial proof of concept.
This front-page editorial is lengthy and complex but worth a read for those interested in quantum technology. Aaronson is founding director of UT’s Quantum Information Center. He’s the author of “Quantum Computing Since Democritus,” and blogs about quantum computing and other topics at Shtetl-Optimized.

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