Google has finally published a paper unearthed last month that claims it has reached quantum supremacy. Using its Sycamore quantum processor, the tech giant claims to be able to complete a complex task – attempting to check whether a number is random – in three minutes and 20 seconds, roughly 10,000 years faster than a classical computer.

Published in Nature’s 150th anniversary issue (via BBC), the team behind Sycamore now claim to have reached quantum supremacy – the point when a quantum machine can outperform a classical one. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has called the breakthrough “the ‘hello world’ moment we’ve been waiting for” and equated it to the first rocket that successfully left the Earth’s gravity.

Quantum supremacy is, however, a bold claim. IBM is one of many companies developing quantum computers, and has addressed Google’s claimed breakthrough in a blog post. “In the paper, it is argued that their device reached ‘quantum supremacy’ and that ‘a state-of-the-art supercomputer would require approximately 10,000 years to perform the equivalent task.’ We argue that an ideal simulation of the same task can be performed on a classical system in 2.5 days and with far greater fidelity.”

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