(IEEESpectrum) Google’s claim to have demonstrated quantum supremacy—one of the earliest and most hotly anticipated milestones on the long road toward practical quantum computing—was supposed to make its official debut in a prestigious science journal. Instead, an early leak of the research paper has sparked a frenzy of media coverage and some misinformed speculation.
The leaked draft of Google’s paper likely represents the first experimental proof of the long-held theoretical premise that quantum computers can outperform even the most powerful modern supercomputers on certain tasks, experts say.
Google’s experiment tested whether the company’s quantum computing device, named Sycamore, could correctly produce samples from a random quantum circuit—the equivalent of verifying the results from the quantum version of a random number generator.
In a twist that even Google probably didn’t see coming, a draft of the paper describing the company’s quantum supremacy experiment leaked early when someone—possibly a research collaborator at the NASA Ames Research Center—uploaded the paper to the NASA Technical Reports Server.
Google’s apparent achievement doesn’t rule out the possibility of another research group developing a better classical computing algorithm that eventually solves the random number generator challenge faster than Google’s current quantum computing device. Many experts think the next big quantum computing milestone will be a successful demonstration of error correction in a quantum computing device that also achieves quantum supremacy.