Quantum Computing: Will It Work, And When?

After decades of patient scientific groundwork, the notion of “quantum computing” has, in the past several years, seen a surge in new activity and interest—not only in the lab, but at commercial firms like Google, Microsoft and IBM, and even among the public at large. Spurring that new interest have been successful lab demonstrations of systems and simulations involving multiple quantum bits (qubits) in trapped-ion systems, superconducting circuits and other platforms.

But it’s still a long way from these demos to the kind of universal, fault-tolerant quantum machine that optimists have envisioned—one that can outperform the best classical computers on a wide range of problems. And some have questioned whether such machines are even possible.

On Monday, 6 May, that question formed the backdrop of a workshop at the CLEO Conference in San Jose, California, USA, with the provocative title, “Will Quantum Computing Actually Work?” The session, organized by OSA Fellow Ben Eggleton of the University of Sydney, Australia, and by Tara Fortier and Andrew Wilson of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), brought together five experts working in various aspects of quantum computing and technology to talk about the issue.

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