(QuantaMagazine) To achieve quantum supremacy, a quantum computer would have to perform any calculation that, for all practical purposes, a classical computer can’t.
The task that will be used to test quantum supremacy is contrived — more of a parlor trick than a useful advance (more on this shortly). For that reason, not all serious efforts to build a quantum computer specifically target quantum supremacy. “Quantum supremacy, we don’t use [the term] at all,” said Robert Sutor, the executive in charge of IBM’s quantum computing strategy. “We don’t care about it at all.”
But in other ways, quantum supremacy would be a watershed moment in the history of computing. At the most basic level, it could lead to quantum computers that are, in fact, useful for certain practical problems.
“Before supremacy, there is simply zero chance that a quantum computer can do anything interesting,” said Fernando Brandão, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology and a research fellow at Google. “Supremacy is a necessary milestone.”
To demonstrate quantum supremacy via the random circuit sampling problem, engineers need to be able to build quantum circuits of at least a certain minimum size — and so far, they can’t.