Why Quantum Software will be Eating the World
In the decade since Marc Andreesen published “ Why software will be eating the world “, he was proven right. Indeed, software companies — from Netflix to Amazon, from Pixar to LinkedIn, from Gong to Snowflake — have completely disrupted numerous industries.
But software solutions are hitting a wall in many industries, primarily because of the performance limits of computers. Take for instance molecular simulations. If we could simulate complex molecules, we could accelerate the development of new materials for energy storage and carbon capture, new vaccines, or even new ways to produce fertilizers — currently accounting for about 1.2% of the world’s total energy consumption. But today’s supercomputers can barely accurately simulate a water molecule.
Or take a UPS delivery truck that has to make 100 stops to drop off packages. What is the optimal sequence of stops, and how does it change with changing traffic or weather conditions? If logistics companies were able to solve these problems in real-time, they would enjoy dramatic reductions in operating costs and significant competitive advantages.
Financial services is another example. A firm’s ability to perform better risk assessments, react quicker to market changes, or perform faster and more accurate Monte Carlo simulations to price options, can provide it with a distinct competitive advantage over those that use older, slower and less accurate methods.
Quantum computers offer a ray of hope. Built on unique insights from quantum physics, quantum computers use unique quantum properties to simultaneously execute multiple calculations, find new patterns in unstructured data, and achieve exponential speed improvements over classical computers.
The jury is still out on the best way to build qubits (quantum bits) and combine them into a quantum computer. Some companies use superconducting qubits, others use cold atoms, photonic qubits, topological qubits, or other modalities. Quantum computers today also lack error correction and thus are susceptible to environmental or manufacturing imperfections. Such error correction is coming, alongside a dramatic increase in the number of available qubits. But regardless of what ends up being the winning technology, these quantum computers need quantum software to breathe life into the machine and make them hum.
Writing software for quantum computers has both differences and similarities with the process of writing software for classical computers. It is different because software engineers need to understand new concepts — such as entanglement and superposition — and new fundamental building blocks — such as Hadamard and CNOT gates. At the same time, there are similarities. Specifically, quantum software needs abstraction layers. Just like a web designer does not need to know assembly language, a finance person working in quantum wants to work at a higher abstraction level instead of being very close to the actual hardware.
Some of these abstraction layers and the way to create optimized quantum circuits are still in development. What’s been developed for 60 years in the classical world has yet to be developed in the quantum world, but companies like Classiq are making huge leaps in closing these gaps. Such abstraction layers allow pushing quantum software to new heights, and at the same time expand the talent pool by providing even those without quantum physics PhDs the ability to make meaningful contributions to their firms’ quantum effort.
In a few short years, both the computing infrastructure and the software development platforms will be fully in place. Those organizations that will wait and only harness quantum computers then will be hopelessly behind, just like those that ignored the web, e-commerce, or machine learning. The time to start exploring quantum technologies and building internal competencies is now. Don’t wait until quantum software allows your competitors and industry newcomers to eat your profits or your part of the business world.
Originally published at https://www.classiq.io.