While classical computers store information in binary bits representing either a 0 or 1, quantum computers use quantum bits (qubits) that can store data in a state of superposition where they can be 0, 1, or a hybrid of both simultaneously, owing to the peculiar nature of quantum physics.
Each individual qubit can occupy a continuum of states that represent an infinite number of values. This allows a qubit to process information in parallel, unlike the sequential nature of classical computers. In qubit terms, the exponential speed from say, 30 qubits, means that a billion calculations can be performed all at once!
As an analogy, let’s take the scenario of a coin toss. According to the classic theory of probability, when you flip a coin, there is a 50:50 chance for it to land either heads-up or tails-up. However, when you bring in the theories of quantum mechanics to the mix, the outcome can be heads, tails, as well as the superposition of both heads and tails at once, depending on the coin’s orientation. This opportunity to explore an exponential number of possibilities with large amounts of data allows quantum computing to outperform a traditional system, making it an incredibly attractive and practical solution. The well-known thought experiment of Schrödinger’s cat, where an imaginary cat can be both alive and dead simultaneously as a result of its fate being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur, illustrates the same paradox of quantum superposition.
Through a property called entanglement, pairs of qubits can also be intertwined with each other, allowing two qubits to exist in a single quantum state, but in a different dimension. This cuts down the time and compute power required to process information irrespective of how far apart these systems are. Ironically, this unusual phenomenon goes against the traditional scientific norm that no information can be transmitted faster than the speed of light, baffling several researchers and scientists, including Albert Einstein who called it “a spooky action at a distance.”
With the quantum computing market projected to reach $64.98 billion by 2030 from just $507.1 million in 2019, a handful of companies, venture capitalists, and governments worldwide continue to invest heavily in the industry.