Sunday, 18 September 2016

Can we run Word Processors on Quantum computers?

Will we be able to run a typical word processor on a quantum computer? The answer to that question is yes.

Quantum computers are massively parallel computers that are currently being developed by major organizations around the world. Although their massively parallel nature makes them natural candidates for more advanced computation, the question is will they be publicly available for basic everyday applications like word processing, spreadsheets and internet browsing? My answer to all these questions is yes and that even more applications than these will be made quantum compatible by around 2025. 

The main reason for my argument is that if we take a look at modern applications and operating systems, we find out that we are using massive parallelism every day. The illusion that you can run multiple applications simultaneously on your computer without problems hides that fact that we are using serial computation that was described years ago by Von Neumann.

Our modern processors run several processes at the same time, each obtaining a time-slice to perform its computation after which another takes the whole processor to itself and so on. These switching between applications takes place millions of time per second to guarantee that we have a computer that is functional and appears to be doing many different things simultaneously.

All these things happen because of the layers of tricks we have built with software. Quantum computation is a universal system of computation and apart from some very specialized applications in the future, we will have tamed quantum computers to perform our tame daily computational tasks.

The first group of regular folks that are going to take most advantage from quantum computers are gamers. Among average computer users, 3D gamers require the most computational prowess. Their games are very graphics intensive and require a massive amount of parallel operations to give the smooth performance that gamers so desire. In the ultra-realistic virtual reality games of the future, quantum computation will come in, just like we use GPU (graphical processing units) to enhance our graphics, to save the day. Quantum computers will enable the rendering engines of the future to create realistic graphics that are not distinguishable from reality itself. I see major applications in regular virtual reality applications here.

Currently most quantum computers fill a room and are extremely expensive, but anytime I think of them I can’t help but be reminded of the days of vacuum tube computing, when computers we so enormous that they filled entire buildings and required massive power and cooling and were also massively expensive.

Once we get quantum computing right, we will shrink these devices and reduce their costs. Finally, they will fit in our pockets on our mobile phones.

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