Microsoft has released guidelines for developing quantum computer applications, cautioning against excessive hype and unrealistic expectations, and urging developers to focus on practical applications. The blog, entitled “Quantum Advantage: Hope and Hype,” offers suggestions for realizing the benefits of quantum computing realistically.
The guidelines warn against over-optimistic expectations of quantum computing and suggest that while numerous potential applications have been suggested, realizing any benefit from them will require significant effort. Rather than pursuing the vague notion of quantum supremacy, which posits that quantum computing will eventually surpass the best performance of classical computing, Microsoft advises developers to seek out practical applications and benefits from quantum computing.
Matthias Troyer, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Quantum, said, “Large-scale quantum computing will solve humanity’s most challenging problems, but not all problems,” adding that “applications for quantum computing, ranging from logistics and cosmology to financial market forecasting, carbon capture, big data analysis, biochemistry, and beyond, are increasing, and the industry is attracting significant interest from businesses, academia, and government leaders, but such optimism must be exercised with caution.”
Troyer emphasized that “the foundations of quantum physics determine which problems can benefit from quantum systems,” and that “finding practical quantum benefits or quantum utility is relatively rare because of specific properties that make quantum computers effective.”
Troyer identified two main obstacles to the use of quantum computing. First, despite additional costs, it is necessary to find algorithms that provide significant advantages over classical computers. Second, due to significant bottlenecks in retrieving and exporting data from quantum computers, it is impossible to use large amounts of data.
The authors of the guidelines, Torsten Hehn, Thomas Häner, Matthias Troyer, propose challenging applications, such as cryptography, optimization in chemistry and materials science, big data, machine learning, database search, drug design and protein folding, fluid dynamics, and weather forecasting, to benefit from quantum acceleration.