Quantum Computing - from Topology to Applications
Krysta Svore, Microsoft Research
In 1982, Richard Feynman proposed to use a computer founded on the laws of quantum physics to simulate physical systems and achieve exponential computational speed-ups over conventional, digital computers. In the more than thirty years since, quantum computers have shown promise to solve problems in number theory, chemistry, and materials science that would otherwise take longer than the lifetime of the universe to solve on an exascale classical machine. Such solutions, for example, will break RSA and thereby invalidate our current encryption techniques, combat global warming, improve artificial fertilizer production, and help design room-temperature superconductors. The practical realization of a quantum computer requires understanding and manipulating subtle quantum states while experimentally controlling quantum interference. One of the most promising avenues towards this goal takes advantage of the topological protection of quantum states to insulate fragile quantum superpositions from the ‘noisy’ environment. So-called topological quantum computation is a scalable path to realizing algorithms on a quantum computer. This session will introduce recent concepts and advances in this domain and show how topological phenomena can be harvested to control quantum computing operations, connecting abstract theory to present-day real-world applications. It will begin with highlights of quantum algorithms and the challenges in ultimately performing a scalable solution on a topological quantum device. During the session, the general notions of quantum computation and its underlying principles will be explained. This session is timely as academic activity continues to grow (Caltech, Waterloo, MIT, Pittsburgh, TU Delft, etc.), industrial efforts are emerging (Microsoft, Google, Intel, Lockheed Martin, etc.), and startups in this space are rapidly forming (Rigetti, 1Qbit, Dwave, QCI, Anyon Systems, etc.).