(WorldFinance) Quantum computing may do more than change the way that quantitative analysts run their algorithms. It may also profoundly alter our perception of the financial system, and the economy in general. The reason for this is that classical and quantum computers handle probability in a different way.
In classical probability, a statement can be either true or false, but not both at the same time.
In a classical computer, a bit can take the value of 0 or 1. In a quantum computer, the state is represented by a qubit, which in mathematical terms describes a ray of length 1. Only when the qubit is measured does it give a 0 or 1.
So what does this have to do with finance? Well, it turns out that quantum algorithms behave in a very different way from their classical counterparts. For example, many of the algorithms used by quantitative analysts are based on the concept of a random walk. This assumes that the price of an asset such as a stock varies in a random way, taking a random step up or down at each time step. It turns out that the magnitude of the expected change increases with the square-root of time.
Quantum computing has its own version of the random walk, which is known as the quantum walk. One difference is the expected magnitude of change, which grows much faster (linearly with time). This feature matches the way that most people think about financial markets. After all, if we think a stock will go up by eight percent in a year then we will probably extend that into the future as well, so the next year it will grow by another eight percent. We don’t think in square-roots.
The field of quantum cognition shows that many of what behavioural economists call ‘paradoxes’ of human decision-making actually make perfect sense when we switch to quantum probability. Once quantum computers become established in finance, expect quantum algorithms to get more attention, not for their ability to improve processing times, but because they are a better match for human behaviour.