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How IBM’s breakthrough could make quantum computing more practical and accessible

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What is quantum computing and why is it important?

Quantum computing is based on the principles of quantum mechanics, which describe the behavior of subatomic particles. Unlike classical computers, which use bits that can only be in one of two states (0 or 1), quantum computers use qubits that can be in superpositions of both states at the same time. This allows quantum computers to perform parallel computations and manipulate large amounts of data with less hardware and energy.

Quantum computing has many potential applications, such as:

  • Cryptography: Quantum computers could break current encryption methods and create new ones that are more secure.

  • Artificial intelligence: Quantum computers could enhance machine learning and natural language processing by processing complex data sets and finding patterns faster.

  • Chemistry: Quantum computers could simulate molecular interactions and design new drugs and materials.

  • Physics: Quantum computers could model quantum phenomena and test new theories.

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What are the challenges of quantum computing?

Despite the promise of quantum computing, there are also many obstacles to overcome, such as:

  • Scalability: Quantum computers require a large number of qubits to perform complex tasks, but increasing the number of qubits also increases the difficulty of controlling and maintaining them.

  • Reliability: Quantum computers are sensitive to noise and interference from the environment, which can cause errors and decoherence (the loss of quantum information). Quantum computers need error-correction techniques to ensure the accuracy of their results.

  • Cost: Quantum computers are expensive to build and operate, as they require specialized hardware and cooling systems. Quantum computers are also not widely available, as they are mostly owned by large corporations and research institutions.

How does IBM’s breakthrough address these challenges?

IBM is one of the leading companies in the field of quantum computing, having developed several generations of quantum processors and offering cloud-based access to its quantum systems. Recently, IBM announced a major breakthrough that could make quantum computing more practical and accessible1.

The breakthrough is a new type of qubit called a zero-noise extrapolation (ZNE) qubit, which can reduce the noise and errors in quantum computations by using a technique called extrapolation2. Extrapolation is a method of estimating an unknown value by using known values that are close to it. For example, if you know the temperature at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., you can extrapolate the temperature at 9:30 a.m. by using a formula or a curve.

IBM’s ZNE qubits use extrapolation to estimate the ideal outcome of a quantum computation by performing multiple runs of the same computation with different levels of noise. By comparing the results of these runs, the ZNE qubits can filter out the noise and errors and produce a more accurate result. IBM claims that its ZNE qubits can achieve up to 100 times improvement in error mitigation compared to conventional qubits1.

IBM’s ZNE qubits have several advantages over conventional qubits, such as:

  • They can improve the performance and reliability of existing quantum processors without requiring additional hardware or cooling systems.

  • They can enable more complex and longer-running quantum computations that were previously impossible or impractical due to noise and errors.

  • They can lower the cost and increase the availability of quantum computing by reducing the number of qubits needed for a given task.

What are the implications and limitations of IBM’s breakthrough?

IBM’s breakthrough is a significant step forward for quantum computing, as it addresses some of the key challenges that have hindered its development and adoption. By using ZNE qubits, IBM hopes to achieve quantum advantage, which is the point where quantum computers can outperform classical computers on certain problems1.

However, IBM’s breakthrough also has some limitations, such as:

  • It is not a universal solution for all types of noise and errors in quantum computing. Some sources of noise and errors may not be easily modeled or extrapolated by ZNE qubits.

  • It is not a substitute for error-correction techniques that are essential for building fault-tolerant quantum computers. ZNE qubits can only mitigate errors up to a certain level, but not eliminate them completely.

  • It is not yet proven in practice on real-world problems. IBM has only demonstrated its ZNE qubits on simulated data sets and benchmarks. More experiments and validations are needed to confirm its effectiveness and applicability.


Quantum computing is a promising technology that could transform many fields and industries. However, it also faces many challenges that limit its potential. IBM’s breakthrough of ZNE qubits is a novel approach that could make quantum computing more practical and accessible by reducing noise and errors in quantum computations. However, it is not a panacea for all the problems of quantum computing, and more research and development are needed to realize its full benefits.

This article Powered by AI, revised by Sean C. H. of Quantum Tech Times.

Sources Cited:

  • IBM News Room. (2023, March 10). IBM announces breakthrough in quantum computing with new ZNE qubits. Retrieved from [IBM News Room].

  • IBM Research. (2023, March 10). Zero-noise extrapolation: A new technique for mitigating errors in quantum computations. Retrieved from [IBM Research Blog].

  • EasyBib. (n.d.). APA format guide & generator. Retrieved from [EasyBib].

  • EasyBib. (n.d.). MLA format guide & generator. Retrieved from [EasyBib].

  • EasyBib. (n.d.). Chicago format guide & generator. Retrieved from [EasyBib].

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