Breakthrough helps traditional computers surpass quantum computers

By adapting statistical inference to improve computational efficiency, traditional computers can overcome the weaknesses of quantum computing.

Researchers in the Department of Physics at New York University have just demonstrated that with a smart approach, classical computing can not only match but exceed the performance of advanced quantum computers . The key to the breakthrough lies in the algorithm's selective retention and retention of just enough information to accurately predict the outcome.

Associate Professor Dries Sels, co-author of the breakthrough study involving classical computing systems, told the journal PRX Quantum : "This work highlights the myriad possibilities of augmented computing, integrating both classical and quantum methods".

Sels said the team's biggest challenge was maintaining the precision advantage of traditional computers over the error-proneness of quantum computers. To do this, scientists optimized classical computing systems by focusing on tensor networks, which optimize qubit interactions. Using techniques adapted from statistical inference, scientists have increased the incredible computational efficiency of classical computing systems.

Inside the IBM Quantum System One quantum computer. Photo: IBM

Joseph Tindall of the Flatiron Institute (USA) compares this technique to compressing an image into JPEG format to reduce file size but the image quality is only reduced to a minimal level. Choosing different structures for the tensor network will give different compressions, similarly each image has an optimal format, depending on the developer.

By developing flexible tools to handle different tensor networks, researchers have shown the untapped potential of classical computing. This also challenges the boundaries of computing and opens new avenues for technological advancement by combining both classical and quantum methods in the search for superior computations.

In a conventional computer, data is encoded into binary numbers (bits) and assigned two on and off values, 0 and 1, respectively. It can only receive one of two values, 0 or 1. Meanwhile, quantum computers allow subatomic particles to exist simultaneously in multiple states allowing them to exist between 0 and 1, or both at the same time.

Quantum bits, or "qubits", can therefore process amounts of information much faster than normal computers. However, the barrier preventing quantum computers from entering the real world is that they are susceptible to processing errors, messing with quantum bits and causing the final result to be wrong. This is a rare obstacle in classical computer systems. In addition, to apply results from quantum research, researchers also need the additional step of converting information into a classical format, which is challenging.

Previously, experts predicted quantum computing would help people decode many mysteries about biology and evolution, cure cancer and even take steps to reverse climate change. However, the computing ability of quantum computers also makes it extremely difficult to verify its truth or falsehood. While with classical computing, people can still double-check results with pen and paper.

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