The simulations took 200 seconds on the quantum computer; after running the same simulations on Summit the team extrapolated that the calculations would have taken the world's most powerful system more than 10,000 years to complete with current state-of-the-art algorithms, providing experimental evidence of quantum supremacy and critical information for the design of future quantum computers.
For those who don't know quantum eigenstates from The Eiger Sanction (and might, therefore, wonder whether quantum supremacy were a new Jason Bourne movie), both the Washington Post and New York Times offer engaging layman's explanations of the import of the quantum supremacy achievement.
Martinis said that Google saw "a pathway" to a computer with 1,000 qubits and expressed confidence that it had a reliable process to make its new chip, dubbed Sycamore.
Whether or not Google achieved "quantum supremacy", the research suggests the field is maturing. The company is racing rivals including IBM Corp and Microsoft Corp to be the first to commercialise the technology and sell it through its cloud computing business.
IBM said that a supercomputer employing a different set-up could solve the same challenge in under three days, while chipmaker Intel said "quantum practicality" remained years away.
Pichai added, "Quantum computing will be a great complement to the work we do (and will continue to do) on classical computers".
Quantum computers use so-called qubits, which can exist in multiple states at once, allowing for performance far exceeding that of traditional computers.
They then had the quantum computer detect patterns in a series of seemingly random numbers, and it succeeded in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. This moment represents a distinct milestone in our effort to harness the principles of quantum mechanics to solve computational problems.
"For classical computers, it is much more hard to compute the outcome of these operations because it requires computing the probability of being in any one of the 2^53 possible states, where the 53 comes from the number of qubits - the exponential scaling is why people are interested in quantum computing to begin with", Foxen said.
The actual workload executed on the company's 53-qubit quantum computer, codenamed Sycamore, does nothing practical - but it does in 200 seconds what Google claims it would take the world's fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to achieve. He says Google's work here has been eliminating errors.
As well as the algorithms for Wall Street trading programs under development, Quantum's programs are also set to be used for genetic research, and by pharmaceutical companies and governments. The Quantum computers are not similar to the desktops or laptops, these are present in separate parts that are present in the server room.
"This experiment establishes that today's quantum computers can outperform the best conventional computing for a synthetic benchmark", said ORNL researcher and Director of the laboratory's Quantum Computing Institute Travis Humble.