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Quantum Computers Still Aren’t Faster Than Regular Old Computers

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A tortoise and a hare, racing.

A quantum computer and a classical computer performed similarly in a speed test of running optimization algorithms.


Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) recently conducted a test comparing the speed of a quantum computer and a classical computer and found they performed similarly when running optimization algorithms. "We found no evidence of quantum speedup," says ETH Zurich's Matthias Troyer. "When we looked at all problems, the machine worked the same as a classical computer."

Although the researchers found some instances in which the quantum machine could solve a problem five times faster than an ordinary PC, they also discovered certain problems in which the quantum computer was about 100 times slower. However, Troyer says it was still impressive the quantum technology was able to keep up with modern computer chips, which have been honed over many decades of research.

He says the researchers will continue to search for classes of problems that show a speedup on the quantum machine. Although no experiment could rule out the existence of such problems, it remains to be seen if they will only be specially tailored instances or if they could have real-world applications, according to Troyer.

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