Microsoft Makes Bet Quantum Computing Is Next Breakthrough
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Modern computers are not unlike the looms of the industrial revolution: They follow programmed instructions to weave intricate patterns. With a loom, you see the result in a cloth or carpet. With a computer, you see it on an electronic display.
Now a group of physicists and computer scientists funded by Microsoft is trying to take the analogy of interwoven threads to what some believe will be the next great leap in computing, so-called quantum computing.
If the scientists are right, their research could lead to the design of computers that are far more powerful than today’s supercomputers and could solve problems in fields as diverse as chemistry, material science, artificial intelligence and code-breaking.
They met here this weekend to explore an approach to quantum computing that is based on “braiding” exotic particles known as anyons — what physicists describe as “quasiparticles” that exist in just two dimensions rather than three — in order to form the building blocks of a supercomputer that exploits the weird physical properties of subatomic particles.
The proposed Microsoft computer is mind-bending even by the standards of the mostly hypothetical world of quantum computing.