INTHEBLACK September 2021 - Flipbook - Page 16
// FAS T F O C U S
STORY SHOLTO MACPHERSON
T H E Q U A N T U M W O R L D M AY S E E M T O B E L I G H T Y E A R S AWAY
F R O M B U S I N E S S AS U S U A L , B U T I T H AS B E C O M E C L E A R
T H AT Q U A N T U M C O M P U T I N G , E V E N I N I T S I N FA N C Y, H O L D S
G R E AT P O T E N T I A L F O R F I N A N C E A N D A C C O U N T I N G .
is in its infancy, but its
sheer potential means
the finance and
accounting world must
start preparing now.
The technology will
affect applications where
optimisation plays a role,
such as stock forecasting
and supply chain
he work currently under way in the race
to quantum supremacy offers three key
The first, and most important, is confirmation
that quantum computers will be able to deliver
processing power on an unimaginable scale.
Second, the winner in the race to build a viable
quantum computer will secure a tremendous
advantage over competitors.
Third, since the technology is in its infancy, it is
nearly impossible to agree on which contender has
made the most headway.
The reality is that quantum computing is still a
long way from entering the mainstream, says James
Mabbott, partner in charge at KPMG Futures, an
innovation lab for the firm and its clients.
“Quantum computing is still in that experimental
learning phase at the moment. The biggest
challenge is making it seem real,” Mabbott says.
“The reason that it matters is that, for some of
these impacts, you need to prepare now.”
Despite hardware shortfalls, venture capitalists
and governments are already developing
applications for quantum computing. Once
someone gets the hardware right, the first
companies to release useful software will have
an outsized impact on any industry.
Finance and accounting applications that could
benefit most from a quantum upgrade include
forecasting, transaction processing and trading.
Researchers are already thinking about how
quantum computing will transform these tasks.
THE BASICS OF QUANTUM COMPUTING
Computers process information in “bits”, basic units
of information and a portmanteau of “binary digit”.
In classical computing, a bit is either 1 or 0.
Quantum systems upend this binary state by
adding two more dimensions. A quantum bit
(or qubit) can also be 1 and 0 simultaneously,
or a mixture of 1 and 0. This state is called
superposition and is the key to the immense
quantum computational power.
Through superposition, two qubits can be in the
same amount of states as four classical bits, four
qubits the same as 16 bits, 16 qubits the same as
65,536 bits, and so on. A system of 300 qubits, it is
said, can reflect more states than there are atoms in
the universe. A computer based on bits could never
16 ITB September 2021