# The SuperComputers You’ve Probably Never Heard About

*“Only six electronic digital computers would be required to satisfy the computing needs of the entire United States.”*

…said by a man in 1947. To be fair, with the programs that they were running they probably only *did *need 6 computers. They just hadn’t understood the vast potential of the computers, like the one I’m typing on. No one could have seen this kind of growth with computers back then.

## Classical Computers

You’ve heard of Apple, the company. Well, they produce laptops, such as Macbooks (crazy, I know, you totally did not know that and I just dropped a massive knowledge bomb).

This is one example of a classical computer. Classical computers carry out logical operations using information stored in bits by either a 0 (off) or a 1 (on), known as a classical bit.

The transistor is the simplest form of a data processor in computers. It is the head that has control over the processing and carries data protection responsibility for it. For my bio enthusiasts, it’s kind of like a cell membrane. It controls information from passing/blocking/etc…

Classical computers seem like a godsend (I’m sure the guy who came up with that above quote thought so), but let’s talk about what they **suck **at.

They suck at the following:

- Optimization
- Chemistry — unable to simulate a bunch of molecules and electrons, along with other very very small things
- Exponential Scaling — such as factorials!

To combat these problems, the idea of supercomputers was introduced. In 1998, the world’s first-ever supercomputer was created — largely recognized as a *quantum computer.*

What? Is? That?

## Why Quantum Computers?

Quantum computers work a little differently than classical computers. As previously mentioned, classical computers are only able to hold one position at a time — a 0 or a 1 (called a classical bit). Here’s the best part: quantum computers are able to hold **both** 0s and 1s (we’ll expand on this later). This concept is known as **superposition.**

Perfection in the quantum computing world is achieved when: *perfection = low error rate + high qubits.*

Let’s take a breather and break it down.

## What is a Qubit?

A qubit is expanded into → quantum bits. They behave sort of like artificial atoms. Qubits talk to other qubits with microwave cables that talk to each other using micro-waves.

Qubits come in quantum computers, just like bits come in classical computers. Quantum computers collapse the superposition into a series of 0s and 1s, more specifically, into *probabilities *of 0s and 1s. Qubits encode the zero and the one into two distinguishable quantum states. But, because qubits behave quantumly, we can capitalize on the phenomena of “superposition” and “entanglement.”

## What is Superposition?

Superposition is essentially the ability of a quantum system to be in multiple states at the same time — that is, something can be “here” and “there,” or “up” and “down” at the same time. For instance, superposition can mean a qubit can be both a 0 and a 1 simultaneously → resulting in vertical and horizontal polarization. The qubits exist between any probability of 0 and 1.

## What is Entanglement?

Think of this phenomenon as pieces of a puzzle that you’re grouping and joining together based on similarities you find on the puzzle piece itself.

Like, something about one characteristic of the system can help me find the other characteristic of the system.

Entanglement is the phenomenon that a strong correlation exists between quantum particles. It’s saying two or more quantum particles can be linked in perfect unison even separated by great distances.

To really understand the vast potential of quantum computers, let’s look at the speed at which these computers can process data.

## Processing Data

**One petaFLOP** —** **this astounding computing speed processes data at one quadrillion (one thousand trillion) calculations per second! For comparison, the human processes speech at around 38 petaFLOPS. The more you think about it, the more you realize how wicked our brain is!

Putting in comparison with something more tech-related on the other hand, the world’s fastest computer is 93 petaFLOPS!

## Qubits: Deeper Look

Although the qubits can exist in any combination of states, when they are measured, they must fall into one of the basis states. All the other information about the state before the information is lost.

Think of it as flipping a coin. During its process, you really have no idea whether it’ll land on heads or tails. As it's still twirling, it seems as though it's switching between both states; heads and tails. However, once it lands flat, it’s made its decision.

Qubits are made of subatomic particles, which allows them to exhibit strange quantum properties that don’t follow the classical rules as bits do.

However, to fully graph quantum computers, it’s important to have a basis of quantum mechanics and/or quantum physics. Quantum mechanics is the field that studies the behavior of the smallest parts of our universe at a subatomic level. Peculiar things happen in the quantum realm that is still being discovered, such as how gravity interacts with particles.

# Personal Note

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