Quantum Computers Are Making Classical Ones Faster, Here's How

Quantum computers promise to one day dominate their classical counterparts like the computers

we use today.

But classical computers will not go gentle into that good night.

They’re fighting inevitable quantum supremacy, and they’re using some tricks they’ve

picked up thanks to quantum computers.

You’re probably familiar with how classical computers work, information is broken up into

bits, which are represented by 1s and 0s.

Quantum computers, on the other hand, could leverage quantum phenomenon to make themselves

exponentially more powerful.

We’ve got a whole video here that explains the fundamentals.

There are certain tasks that quantum computers would ideally be suited to.

Things like predicting how a molecule in a pharmaceutical will interact with the human


This behavior depends on the observation of a molecule’s electrons, which obey the laws

of quantum physics.

If you were to simulate them using a computer that also behaves according to quantum mechanics,

you could get an answer much faster than if you tried to make a classical computer figure

it out.

Using a classical computer to simulate quantum phenomenon is like using a spoon to tunnel

through a mountain.

It’s not really the right tool for the job, and even if it does work it’s going to take


You’d also need an ungodly amount of spoons.

But what classical computers lack in quantum-ness, programmers can make up for with cleverness.

With mathematical techniques, some problems that look rooted in quantum processes could

be be “de-quantized” and simulated efficiently with classical computers.

It’s not really clear why some algorithms are easy to rearrange and simulate classically

while others aren’t, though it appears that the less entanglement is part of the problem,

the more likely it is that computer scientists can manipulate it and run it efficiently on

a classical computer.

Sometimes though research into quantum computing can lead to breakthroughs for their classical


In fact one problem that was thought uniquely suited to quantum computers was recently shown

to be solvable with classical computers as well.

The problem was known as the recommendation system problem, and you are intimately familiar

with it.

If you watch a lot of videos on YouTube, YouTube wants to figure out what you and people with

similar tastes will want to watch next.

You may have noticed YouTube is terrible at this.Seriously I watched one makeup tutorial

just to see what all the fuss was about, and now all I’m seeing is Jeffree Star in my


Not that I’m complaining.

Classical algorithms just aren’t good at taking all the data about what videos that

viewers like have in common and quickly suggesting other similar videos.

That is, until June of 2018.

A student at UT Austin demonstrated that a classical algorithm could compete with a quantum

one, and serve you better video recommendations.

He created a fast classical algorithm.

To go back to that YouTube example, you can think of the data arranged in a giant grid,

where videos are listed along one axis, and users listed down the side.

The promise of a quantum algorithm is that it can recognize preference patterns and generate

recommendations to fill in the blanks in the matrix faster than a classic algorithm.

But the UT student found a way to tackle the recommendation problem with a classical algorithm

that ran in polylogarithmic time, an exponential speed up!

Essentially he drew inspiration from a quantum algorithm to design a classic one, and it


It still has to pass peer review so don’t expect your recommendations to get better

any time soon.

But the irony is he was originally tasked with proving that the quantum solution was

definitely superior.

He tried to show that no classical solution could keep up, but found one that did and

ended up advancing classical computing instead.

Quantum computers still have a long way to go before they can claim quantum supremacy.

Scientists will have to figure out how to make unstable qubits last longer to reduce

the noise and error rates of the machines of today.

We’ll also have to get better at controlling qubits and designing the quantum architecture

of the chip.

Even so, unless we develop room temperature superconductors, quantum computers are going

to have to be kept in ultra cold environments to function.

That means that classical computers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but they may

get better thanks to competition from their quantum rivals.

In the quantum realm, I can exist with AND without a beard.

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And if you’re craving to know more about the mechanics of a quantum computer check

out this video here (it’s real good) Also the UT Austin student who devised a never

before seen superfast classical algorithm was 18 at the time.

What have you done Kylie Jenner?

Thanks for watching and see you next time on Seeker.