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What is … Quantum computing

What are quantum computers, and why can they perform operations that conventional computers cannot? Explained by physics professor Stefan Filipp.

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A quantum computer is based on the laws of quantum mechanics and consists of so-called quantum bits (qubits), which can be in the state “0” and “1” at the same time. One then speaks of a superposition state.

Several (N) qubits can be in exponentially many (2ᴺ) states simultaneously, which exhibit strong quantum mechanical correlations, i.e. entanglements. Through clever manipulation, this exponentially growing number of possibilities can be used to perform algorithms that are not solvable on conventional computers.

Today’s quantum computers are built on superconducting circuits or trapped atoms or electrons. Application areas for quantum computers range from algebraic tasks to calculating material properties to solving economically relevant optimisation tasks.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Filipp

Stefan Filipp has been a Professor of Physics at TU Munich and Director of the Walther Meissner Institute of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities since May 2020. Previously, Prof. Filipp worked at the Quantum Device Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and at the Watson Research Center (IBM) in New York, among others. Most recently, Filipp was the technical leader of the superconducting qubit team at IBM Research in Zurich.