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Google Researchers Use Quantum to Tackle Classical Physics Problems

New algorithm translates equations into quantum mechanics for quantum computers to solve

December 20, 2023

1 Min Read
Google's Sycamore quantum processor
Google's Sycamore quantum processorGoogle

Quantum computing is showing early signs of being able to solve previously challenging complex problems that rely on the underlying quantum mechanical properties of molecules, such as developing new materials and pharmaceuticals.

However, quantum has to date struggled with solving a class of classical Newtonian physics problems better than classical computers.

Oscillation problems are typically mathematically described as the interaction of a network of balls and springs. The rules that govern their behavior are known as Hooke’s law. Examples of these problems include the dynamics of a suspension bridge in an earthquake or the effects of munitions against armor.

Google researchers have developed an algorithm that translates the behavior of the balls and springs into the language of the Schrödinger equation that describes quantum mechanics. These map directly onto the quantum computer qubits, solving the problems faster than classical computers.

The researchers said that any physical problems that can be described by Hooke’s law could be translated for calculation by a quantum computer, but not all of them would be solved faster than using a classical computer.

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