Quantum Computing | 4 min read

A gentle introduction to Quantum Computing

If you've been paying attention to our announcements the last few weeks, you've probably heard about our new Quantum Computing initiative in Raccoons called QNTM. Since evangelisation on the possibilities of Quantum Computing is a large part of our mission statement, we decided it was due time for our first public quantum presentation.

That's why last week we gave our "gentle introduction to quantum computing" talk to an amazing audience at Cronos Leuven's Openba[a]r event. Openba[a]r is organised in our offices every last Thursday of the month and features two inspiring talks by Cronos people on a wide variety of subjects (there's pizza and drinks as well, although we hope that's just an added bonus).

Last week was a special treat, because not only was the audience introduced to the weird and wonderful world of Quantum Computing, they were also treated to a presentation on Robotic Process Automation. And this interesting mix of topics definitely got some attraction, because we had a record number of attendees, causing us to have to switch locations to fit everyone inside!

QNTM presentation
QNTM presentation

What is Quantum Computing?

So what is this Quantum Computing thing that everybody seems to be excited about? Well, for the full answer you're gonna have to attend one of our future presentations (or contact us for a custom talk at your event or offices) But in short: quantum computers (ab)use the fundamental uncertainty present in our universe to perform certain types of calculations faster than any classical computer. Strange this is, we don't even know how fast we're going to be able to make these quantum computers, but we do know that they will be able to solve some very large problems with less effort than a classical computer.

Quantum computers (ab)use the fundamental uncertainty present in our universe to perform certain types of calculations faster than any classical computer.
- Deevid De Meyer (QNTM & Brainjar)

Sounds easy enough right? Well, problems arise when you want to explain how a quantum computer works exactly. Quantum computers are based on the mysterious workings of quantum mechanics, a theory that is so difficult to wrap our heads around that one of the leading quantum physicists in the 20th century once claimed:

If you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don't understand quantum mechanics.
- Richard Feynman

But despite this difficulty, we nonetheless feel that it is essential that we spread awareness of the coming Quantum Computing revolution. Because even though quantum computers are not yet practical today, once they are, they are going to change the world. We know, this term gets thrown around A LOT these days when it comes to technology, but if there's one technology that deserves this accolade, it's Quantum Computing.

Most people are aware of the "encryption destroying" abilities of quantum computers, but this isn't really important since quantum computers also gives us unbreakable quantum encryption schemes. No, the real promise of Quantum Computing lies in the field of quantum chemistry. Simulating chemical interactions on classical computers is almost impossible due to the quantum nature of these interactions. To give you an idea, simulating interactions between molecules consisting of about 8 (EIGHT!) atoms is at the limit of our current supercomputers, where most interactions in organic chemistry involve thousands or even millions of atoms. Naturally, dealing with these quantum phenomena is no problem for a quantum computer.

Therefore, quantum computers have the potential to revolutionise the chemistry industry. And because everything is chemistry these days, this means breakthroughs in material science, energy, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, etc.

And if that's not exciting enough, there are serious indications that quantum computers will also be usable for AI and optimisation problems! And so the world is rapidly becoming aware of the possibilities of Quantum Computing. The EU for instance, has already kicked off its Quantum Technologies Flagship, a 1 billion euro investment fund with the goal of advancing Quantum Computing research in Europe. Sound impressive enough, until you find out that the US has pledged 1.2 billion dollars on top of the huge amounts of money tech giants like Google are already investing, and China has already invested 10 billion dollars into their Quantum Computing centre.

And so once again, Europe is running behind on this crucial technological development, and will be forced to rally and play catchup in the coming years if it wants to survive this increasingly accelerating technological arms race. We hope that by spreading the word on Quantum Computing and making companies aware of the possibilities, we will be able to play a small role in keeping our little corner of the world relevant in the 21st century.

Watch the full presentation

We recorded the entire presentation "A gentle introduction to Quantum Computing" which you can watch below.

Let's get in touch

Is your interest piqued on the possibilities of Quantum Computing? Are you curious how your company is going to be affected by the coming quantum revolution? Get in contact with us and we will help guide you through this exciting new world, from inspirational half hour "gentle" introductions, all the way to practical workshops where we teach you to build quantum programs and run them on an actual quantum computer!

If you want to stay informed, join the Raccoons mailing list!

Related stories