Patterns and processes
The quest to embrace and improve every aspect of quantum technologies is speeding up exponentially, as scientists vie to identify a feasible mode of work. If you’re interested about advancements in quantum technology, then you’re in the right place.
As reported by Phys.org, scientists have made a “significant advancement” in the space, that serves to revolutionise the way complex systems operate and interact with one another; it’s an intuitive approach that has so far garnered impressive results: an accurate and effective approach that dramatically scales back the required memory.
‘Complex systems’ refers to everything from predicting traffic patterns and financial markets, to even accurately forecasting the weather. If you’ve watched or read The Mosquito Coast, you know how vital this work is for the ultra-connected world we now live in – there are patterns, some dating back millennia, in every aspect of human behaviour, and quantum technology scientists seek to harness them to get a better idea of where we’re going next.
“Accurately predicting these behaviours and making informed decisions relies on storing and tracking vast information from events in the distant past—a process which presents huge challenges.”
The application of artificial intelligence, as you might expect, has changed the way digital systems understand and process this data, but it requires significant resources that, in some sectors, are pressingly scant. Current models, according to the Universe of Manchester, see their memory requirements rapidly multiply every two years and often require optimisation across trillions of defined parameters. This gargantuan drain on resources has traditionally caused somewhat of a roadblock for scientists, leading to instances where the prohibitive cost of memory leads to a significant sacrifice: the end goal, predictive accuracy.
Bits and qubits – what’s the difference?
Now, researchers at the University of Manchester collaborating with China’s University of Science and Technology, the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Quantum Technologies and the Nanyang Technological University have proposed that the significant processing leap afforded by quantum technologies could provide a viable solution to mitigate such a problematic trade-off.
Working across the globe, the team have realised complex quantum models that simulate a “family of complex processes with only a single qubit of memory”. What’s a qubit, you ask? It’s the basic unit used to measure quantum information. Whereas each computer bit we rely on today can have a value of just 0 or 1, a quantum bit (qubit) can represent a range of values between 0 and 1 simultaneously. The standard binary nature of data is comparatively old hat!
Advancements in quantum technology: charting data’s complex future
Imagine you’re using standard computer memory – we currently throw more and more memory capacity at a problem, as more historical data is added. Qubits’ inherent ability to interpret variables in data leads to such significant advancements in quantum technologies because they will only ever need one qubit of memory. This new development, published in the Nature Communications, represents a dramatic shift in how systems will read and interpret complex system modelling.
“Using as few qubits as possible for the memory, we get closer to what is practical with near-future quantum technologies. Moreover, we can use any extra qubits we free up to help mitigate against errors in our quantum simulators.”
– Dr Thomas Elliot, University of Manchester
As Dr Elliott explains, this bold approach takes a complementary approach, and identifies how quantum computers can “help us reduce the size of memory we require for [our] calculations.” The team has achieved a much higher accuracy in tests than has been possible using traditional methods; with luck, the approach can now be adapted and applied to many complex systems, no matter the context.
What’s more, it could lead to even more advancements – heat dissipation compared to traditional processing models, and similar parallels. The ultimate goal is to make each of us smarter and safer in the real world. ‘In theory’ is finally catching up to ‘in practice’, and we’ll all reap the benefits.
Do you believe in quantum tech’s potential for mapping the future? Keep the conversation going in the comments.
Want more on how quantum will affect life here in the UK? Click Quantum Computing In The UK: What You Need To Know.