What is Quantum Annealing?

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Quantum Computing | 0 comments

Welcome to the world of quantum computing, a realm where the laws of physics as we know them take on a whole new meaning. Imagine a place where a particle can be in two places at once, or where information can travel faster than the speed of light. This is not science fiction, but the promising reality of quantum computing.

As of 2023, the quantum computing market is projected to reach $1.7 billion by 2026, demonstrating the incredible potential and industry confidence in this field.

In today’s blog, we will focus on a specific type of quantum computing called quantum annealing. Think of this as your friendly guide to understanding this complex technology, using everyday comparisons and stories to help make sense of it all.

What is Quantum Annealing in a Simple Response?

Quantum annealing is a method used in quantum computing to find the minimum value of a function, a task that is known as optimization. It’s like looking for the lowest point in a landscape of hills and valleys. In classical computing, the algorithm would have to hike over each hill and into every valley to find the lowest point. This is a time-consuming task. Quantum annealing, however, makes use of quantum properties to “tunnel” through the hills, effectively reducing the time it takes to find that lowest point.

Universal Gate Model vs Quantum Annealing

Quantum computing isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are different methods, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Two of the main types are the Universal Gate Model and Quantum Annealing.

  • Universal Gate Model: This is the quantum equivalent of a classical computer. If you imagine a classical computer as a complex LEGO set, where you can build anything you want from a set of basic blocks, a Universal Gate Model quantum computer is like having LEGO blocks that can exist in multiple places at the same time and interact in ways that defy conventional logic.
  • Quantum Annealing: Quantum annealing, on the other hand, is a bit more specialized. Instead of a general-purpose quantum computer, it’s more like a highly skilled craftsman, specifically designed for optimization problems. It’s not as versatile as the Universal Gate Model, but it’s particularly good at what it does.

Optimization and Probabilistic Sampling Problems

Optimization problems are everywhere in real life: from finding the shortest route for a road trip, to scheduling tasks for maximum efficiency, to designing a new product with the minimum possible cost. These are the type of problems quantum annealing excels at solving.

Quantum annealing also shines in probabilistic sampling problems. These are situations where you need to generate a set of potential solutions that fit a certain criteria, with each solution having a certain probability. Think of it like rolling a loaded die: you’re not just interested in the most likely outcome, but in the distribution of all possible outcomes.

Real-World Application of Quantum Annealing

Quantum annealing isn’t just a theoretical concept. It’s being used in real-world applications today. For instance, Volkswagen used quantum annealing to optimize the routes of its buses in Lisbon during the Web Summit technology conference in 2018. The result was a 90% reduction in congestion, showing the power of this technology in action.

Sizes of Quantum Annealers and Gate Model QC

As of 2023, quantum computers vary in size. Some are as small as a single chip, while others are as large as an entire room. The size of a quantum computer depends largely on the number of quantum bits, or qubits, it contains. The more qubits,# Let’s find some recent stats about the size and capacity of quantum annealers and gate model quantum computers. search(“current size and capacity of quantum computers 2023”)

the more powerful and larger the quantum computer tends to be. But don’t be fooled by numbers alone. Quantum processors are difficult to compare due to their different architectures and approaches. In fact, the number of qubits does not directly translate to performance levels of the processor​.

Here are a few examples:

  • The RIKEN quantum processor, announced in March 2023, has 53 effective qubits (64 total)​.
  • Google’s quantum processor from 2017 has 20 qubits with a high fidelity of 99.5%​. Their Bristlecone processor introduced in 2018 boasts 72 qubits with different fidelities for readout, single qubit, and two qubits​, while the Sycamore processor from 2019 has 53 effective qubits (54 total)​​.
  • The USTC Jiuzhang photonics quantum processor introduced in 2020 has 76 qubits​, and their Zuchongzhi 2.1 processor from 2021 has 66 qubits with different fidelities for single-qubit gates, two-qubit gates, and readout​.
  • Xanadu’s Borealis photonics quantum processor from 2022 has 216 qubits​.
  • IBM’s quantum processors range from 5 qubits (IBM Q 5 Tenerife, 2016) to 20 qubits (IBM Q 20 Tokyo, 2017), and up to a 50-qubit prototype​​.

As you can see, quantum computing is a rapidly evolving field, with new developments and breakthroughs happening all the time. Quantum annealing, in particular, has the potential to revolutionize how we solve complex optimization problems, offering new solutions and opportunities in a wide array of applications. Just imagine what this could mean for industries like logistics, finance, healthcare, and more.

The journey into the quantum realm might seem overwhelming, but remember, every grand idea starts with a single step. As the famous physicist Richard Feynman once said, “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.” So, embrace the mystery, join the quantum revolution, and let’s see where this quantum leap into the future will take us.

The Quantum Leap Ahead

Whether it’s quantum annealing or the Universal Gate Model, each approach to quantum computing offers unique advantages and possibilities. The world of quantum computing is a fascinating landscape of ‘superpositions’, ‘entanglements’, and ‘quantum tunneling’, and quantum annealing is a crucial part of this exciting frontier.

While we have just scratched the surface of what quantum computing can offer, the potential applications are astounding. As we move forward, we can expect to see quantum computers tackling problems of increasing complexity, helping us to shape a future that promises to be as enthralling as it is unpredictable.

In the end, quantum computing is not just about solving complex problems more efficiently. It’s about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, exploring the depths of the natural world, and unlocking the true potential of human ingenuity. As we stand on the brink of this quantum revolution, one thing is certain – the future is quantum, and it’s coming at us faster than a speeding qubit.

Stay tuned for more exciting insights into the quantum world in our future posts. Until then, keep questioning, keep learning, and remember – the future isn’t just ahead, it’s quantum.


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