What & Why Quantum Computing?

In this episode, Frank and Andy welcome our first guest to the show.

Dr Mark Jackson is a Quantum Evangelist at Cambridge Quantum Computing, which may just be the best job title I have ever heard.

This episode is entitled “What and Why Quantum Computing?” and is rated one and a half Schroedingers. It could be 2 Schroedingers or just one. You will have to observe the entire episode to collapse the wave function.


Cambridge Quantum Computing


00:00:00 BAILey 

Hello and welcome to impact quantum. 

00:00:02 BAILey 

A podcast about quantum computing for developers and engineers. 

00:00:06 BAILey 

In this episode, Frank and Andy welcome our first guest to the show. 

00:00:11 BAILey 

Doctor Mark Jackson is a quantum evangelist at Cambridge Quantum Computing, which may just be the best job title I have ever heard. 

00:00:19 BAILey 

This episode is entitled what and why Quantum Computing and is rated 1 1/2 Schrodinger’s. 

00:00:26 BAILey 

It could be. 

00:00:27 BAILey 

Two Schrodinger’s or just one. 

00:00:29 BAILey 

You will have to observe the entire episode to collapse the wavefunction. 

00:00:33 BAILey 

Now on. 

00:00:34 BAILey 

With the show. 

00:00:36 BAILey 

But first, here’s some dubstep. 

00:00:47 Frank 

Hello and welcome to impact quantum. 

00:00:51 Frank 

The podcast where we. 

00:00:52 Frank 

Explore this new. 

00:00:53 Frank 

Field of quantum computing from an engineer’s perspective. Maybe you’re a software engineer. Maybe you’re a data engineer. 

00:00:59 Frank 

But you keep hearing about this thing called quantum computing, which is going to change everything. 

00:01:04 Frank 

And I happen to believe that it will change everything, and to that end I. 

00:01:07 Frank 

Hey I have my trusty co-host from data driven. 

00:01:11 Frank 

With me Andy Leonard. 

00:01:12 Andy 

Hey Frank, thanks for for bringing me along as folks will quickly learn, you know way more about quantum computing. 

00:01:20 Andy 

Than I do. 

00:01:21 Andy 

So I guess I’m just here for my pretty faves. 

00:01:24 Frank 

Of course, of course we are. 

00:01:25 Frank 

Actually recording this in video on teams, but come with me with us for the first time in impact quantum history. 

00:01:33 Frank 

We have a guest and it’s Doctor Mark Jackson. 

00:01:36 Frank 

Uh, who has probably the coolest job title I have heard in about a decade or two? 

00:01:43 Frank 

Welcome to the show. 

00:01:43 Frank 

Mark, you’re our first guest ever. 

00:01:45 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Thank you Frank. 

00:01:46 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Thank you Andy. 

00:01:47 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s great to be here. 

00:01:49 Frank 

Uh, so as Andy said, you know, I do. 

00:01:52 Frank 

When I you know I would use the term knows more as a very relative term part of the if you’re listening to the show and you’ve listened to the archives. 

00:02:01 Frank 

Part of the reason why we haven’t had a lot of shows is because I really kind of hit my cerebral limit at the time to talk about so. 

00:02:09 Frank 

Given that quantum is still a relatively new field and there’s a shortage of experts in the field, but I think you know we were. 

00:02:17 Frank 

I was blessed to get in contact with Mark where we can talk about kind of this with an expert because he’s a quantum evangelist. 

00:02:27 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yes, it’s a. 

00:02:28 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s a pleasure to be here and I am Cambridge, quantum quantum evangelist. 

00:02:33 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I’m glad you like my title. 

00:02:34 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s it’s pretty unique. 

00:02:36 Frank 

That is very cool. 

00:02:37 Frank 

Uhm so So what? 

00:02:39 Frank 

You know, what does a First off? 

00:02:41 Frank 

How did you get into quantum? 

00:02:43 Frank 

What’s your background? 

00:02:44 Frank 

Is your background in quantum physics? 

00:02:46 Frank 

Or computing or. 

00:02:46 Dr. Mark Jackson 

My background is in yes, so my background is actually in superstring theory, if you’re. 

00:02:51 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Familiar with that? 

00:02:53 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yeah, for 15 years I did that. 

00:02:54 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I earned my pH. 

00:02:56 Dr. Mark Jackson 

In string theory from Columbia University under the supervision of Brian Greene, who you might recognize. 

00:03:02 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And then I did it. 

00:03:02 Frank 

In fact, he’s the one. 

00:03:03 Frank 

Who’s documentaries on string theory I I do enjoy? 

00:03:07 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yes, I I’m actually in that, uh, I have a very brief cameo. 

00:03:10 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I was a student and and half my face is in it for. 

00:03:13 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Half a second. 

00:03:14 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Oh, very cool, very cool. 

00:03:16 Frank 

That’s awesome, you’re real selected. 

00:03:18 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So, uh, so, so yes, that was my moment of fame. 

00:03:21 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Uh, back when I was a grad student and so then I I did research in that area for about 10 years and I briefly did a tech startup doing scientific fund raising before I returned to teaching at Singularity. 

00:03:32 Dr. Mark Jackson 

University and that was where I first started hearing about quantum computing. This would be around 2016. 

00:03:40 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Uh so so. Quantum computing only existed academically when I was a student, and so I rarely heard anything at all about it and it was in 2016 people started talking about quantum computing, being commercially feasible, and I thought this was amazing because it was all the things that I I loved about physics. 

00:03:59 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Superposition and entanglement and all these crazy physics concepts. 

00:04:03 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Uhm they they started saying they could actually build machines and do this for you. 

00:04:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Whole things, and I thought that was amazing. 

00:04:10 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so I started trying to get into the field. 

00:04:13 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I was giving presentations about quantum computing to executives, but I felt sort of like a cheerleader on the sides. 

00:04:20 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I actually wanted to be doing it, not just talking about it, and so I tried to get into. 

00:04:24 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The field. 

00:04:25 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And it was a bit frustrating because I didn’t. 

00:04:28 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Have a background in quantum computing and I didn’t know too many people in it, but I was very lucky that a friend of mine, a math professor at Berkeley where I was living. 

00:04:37 Dr. Mark Jackson 

He made an introduction to our CEO. 

00:04:40 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Ilyas Khan and it was very well timed because Cambridge Quantum was about three years old and everyone at the time was in the UK. 

00:04:51 Dr. Mark Jackson 

As the name might suggest, were basically virgins like. 

00:04:53 Frank 

Yeah, wasn’t shared with Cambridge, England or Cambridge. 

00:04:55 Frank 

Massachusetts ’cause it could go either way. 

00:04:58 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yeah, it’s it’s actually the old school, Cambridge, our company Origin story is is quite amazing. Ileus was chairman of the Stephen Hawking Foundation and in in 2014 Hawking told him I think quantum computing is going to take off. You should get into this business and so that’s how we started because of Stephen Hawking. 

00:05:18 Frank 

That’s amazing. 

00:05:19 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so yeah, we we have one of the coolest origin. 

00:05:22 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Stories ever and so in fall of 2017 I I joined as one of the first American members of the team. 

00:05:31 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so I’ve been there about four years, and it’s been an amazing journey. 

00:05:35 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I I can’t think of any other technology that’s. 

00:05:38 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Advanced this rapidly. 

00:05:41 Frank 

I I will. 

00:05:41 Frank 

Say it’s just even in the last, maybe 8 to 10 months. 

00:05:46 Frank 

The pace of innovation has gone through the roof like you start hearing these news and you know whenever I would look on YouTube for you know recent videos and you filter by like you know you’d have to look for like oh in the recent month for quantum anything about quantum computing. 

00:06:01 Frank 

Now it’s the point where something new gets published every couple hours like. 

00:06:05 Frank 

It’s it’s it’s. 

00:06:06 Frank 

It’s just exploded. 

00:06:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yeah, it’s it’s almost every week we some we see some new major announcement about a. 

00:06:14 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There’s a new commercial project. 

00:06:15 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There’s a new company being founded. 

00:06:17 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There’s new investment. 

00:06:19 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There’s there’s some new technological advance. 

00:06:21 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It really is developing very quickly. 

00:06:23 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s tough to keep up with with everything. 

00:06:26 Dr. Mark Jackson 

When I started four years ago, I remember some of my physics friends being a little skeptical. 

00:06:30 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Was quantum computing really a thing? 

00:06:32 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Was this a wise career decision? 

00:06:35 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And no one is questioning it. 

00:06:38 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Now there. 

00:06:39 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There’s so so much money and so much talent being put into this. 


It’s not. 

00:06:43 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It really is amazing. 

00:06:45 Frank 

Yeah, I mean it’s funny because you you know you’d said you didn’t have a background in when you when you look to get into this in quantum computing, but I’m thinking like. 

00:06:54 Frank 

Who does? I mean? There are people, obviously, but I mean I could probably. I mean going back, maybe the 2000. 

00:07:01 Frank 

14 When Stephen Hawking kind of had his, you know, had his say and created your you know kind of inspired the launch of your company. 

00:07:10 Frank 

I would say there’s probably maybe a dozen people worldwide would would would be in quantum computing, at least commercialization of it and not just the research. 

00:07:18 Frank 

So I find that I find that interesting because a lot of folks, when they look to to to get into a new career, even though I guess technically you’re still heavy in. 

00:07:30 Frank 

In in, in the deep sciences I would call. 

00:07:33 Frank 

You know people, still you know with your pedigree. 

00:07:37 Frank 

Having worked under Brian Greene and even being in one of his documentaries, even if it’s for a half a second I I mean you face that challenge. 

00:07:46 Frank 

So I think I think it I think for anyone here who’s looking to transition into a quantum career, know that you know you are going to face skepticism, but I also think that there will be an inflection point and mark. 

00:07:56 Frank 

And tell me this has happened. 

00:07:57 Frank 

Now where the demand is going to be far outstrip the supply, that as long as you kind of know more than the average Joe or Jane on the street, I think that there’s still good opportunity. 

00:08:11 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Right, you are correct that even a few years ago there were very few people doing quantum computing as a specialty, so quantum computing was first suggested about 40 years ago by Richard Feynman. 

00:08:23 Dr. Mark Jackson 

This physicist, when he pointed out that there were a lot of problems that we never could hope to solve using normal computers and a prime example is. 

00:08:31 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Is chemistry doing molecular simulations? 

00:08:34 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Is very difficult for a computer. 

00:08:35 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We can only simulate only the very simplest model. 

00:08:38 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Schools and so he pointed out we have to build a new type of computer, one based on quantum physics. 

00:08:44 Dr. Mark Jackson 

This was about 40 years ago and no one knew how to do this at any feasible level, and so there was there was academic progress, so research labs and such would work on this, but it wasn’t anywhere close to being commercialized for many years. 

00:08:59 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And then it was. It was around 2014 that started to change. 

00:09:02 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So it’s only in the past few years that quantum information science, the academic term for this. 

00:09:09 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Really emerged, so there are now several universities offering degrees in quantum information sciences, but that’s a relatively new development. 

00:09:19 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Most of the people. 

00:09:21 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Kind of the older people just had to pick it up on the street. 

00:09:25 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They were there or their physics professors. 

00:09:27 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So like very few people who really did this or there are people who came from other areas of science and technology who were able to pick up enough. 

00:09:37 Dr. Mark Jackson 

For example, I’m not even on the scientific team. 

00:09:39 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I’m on the business team, so even though my background is in theoretical physics, I actually don’t know enough that I could. 

00:09:46 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Be a scientist in this area. 

00:09:50 Frank 

Interesting, I see a lot of parallels with kind of how traditional computer science had kind of evolved, right? 

00:09:57 Frank 

First you had to be an electrical engineer. 

00:09:59 Frank 

Or have that kind of a pedigree? 

00:10:02 Frank 

Then then you know, as computational. 

00:10:07 Frank 

Well, computer science kind of came out into its own as an active separate academic discipline. 

00:10:12 Frank 

You know there was there, you know it kind of evolved from there. 

00:10:15 Frank 

And I I see. 

00:10:17 Frank 

You know, obviously we’re we’re pretty early, so we don’t know how the movie is going to end, but I kind of seen this story structure before in that regard. 

00:10:25 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yeah, that that’s actually a very good analogy. 

00:10:27 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The computers that we have now look a lot like the computers from the 50s and 60s. 

00:10:32 Dr. Mark Jackson 

That there there are these big machines in big rooms with wires hanging out and you do have to be a specialized engineer fiddling with things and it changes on a day to day basis which parts are working or not. 

00:10:45 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Things are very experimental, they’re very expensive to use. 

00:10:48 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Uh, only a few people really know how to use them. 

00:10:51 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There are some differences in that back then you had to be physically there next to the machine, whereas now we have the Internet. 

00:10:58 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So fortunately people can access it from anywhere. 

00:11:02 Frank 

Which is great in the pandemic. 

00:11:04 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Which is great during the pandemic that we can access these quantum computing machines, but but they are still experimental and engineers have to be on site to fiddle with them. 

00:11:12 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Things in a few years, though that probably won’t be the case. 

00:11:16 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There will be a few people. 

00:11:18 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Uh, specialized in them, but a lot of people will be able to use them without having to be. 

00:11:23 Dr. Mark Jackson 

An expert in them, right? 

00:11:24 Frank 

So I mean, there’s definitely this. 

00:11:26 Frank 

This evolution that’s happening, and it’s it seems to be picking up pace. 

00:11:31 Frank 

But what’s interesting is that you said something that that I’m curious about. 

00:11:35 Frank 

Is it quantum information science? 

00:11:38 Frank 

Since it was only developed in. 

00:11:40 Frank 

The last four. 

00:11:40 Frank 

Or five years? 

00:11:41 Frank 

But wasn’t Shor’s algorithm and a lot of these things kind of worked out in the 90s or late 80s? Like what in that question? My question then is what constitutes quantum information science? 

00:11:53 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yes, so so people certainly did do this, but there were very few of them and they usually were. 

00:12:00 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They were experts in other things. 

00:12:01 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They didn’t focus exclusively on quantum computing or quantum information science, so yes, so Peter Shor, who I think was at Bell Labs, I could be mistaken, but for some reason I think that he’s now at MIT. 

00:12:13 Dr. Mark Jackson 

He’s the one who came up with shores algorithm and has done some other things. 

00:12:17 Dr. Mark Jackson 

But I don’t think he spent all his time just doing quantum computing, whereas now that that’s a this is a full time occupation. 

00:12:21 Frank 

Fair enough. 

00:12:25 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Just people who specialize just in this. 

00:12:27 Frank 

Fair enough so. 

00:12:28 Frank 

The field existed, but. 

00:12:29 Frank 

It wasn’t really big enough that you know you’d get your own department and your own degree in it. 

00:12:33 Frank 

I I now I. 

00:12:33 Frank 

Understand you mean? 

00:12:34 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Right, right? 

00:12:34 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Because because there there were no quantum computers, so so there wasn’t much point in, uh, in doing this full time, yeah? 

00:12:41 Frank 

I mean, it makes sense. 

00:12:42 Frank 

There’s nothing to do ’cause it doesn’t. 

00:12:43 Frank 

Exist yet it? 

00:12:45 Frank 

It reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon from like the mid 90s where it’s like, you know he goes. 

00:12:50 Frank 

I know everyone wants to work on this project called Personal Multimedia devices because it sounds really cool and it’s so futuristic there’s actually no work yet. 

00:13:00 Frank 

So, but then again, I. 

00:13:02 Frank 

Mean you kind of look around. 

00:13:03 Frank 

You know, if you. 

00:13:03 Frank 

Look at cell phones. 

00:13:04 Frank 

You know they are personal multimedia devices, so I think it just fascinates me how quickly this evolved now. 

00:13:11 Frank 

Correct me if I’m wrong, wasn’t it shores algorithm that was kind of like this? 

00:13:14 Frank 

Light bulb moment? 

00:13:16 Frank 

Certainly in the national security kind of. 

00:13:20 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yes, that that’s my understanding that that people had talked about quantum computers, but they didn’t really know what other than chemistry. 

00:13:27 Dr. Mark Jackson 

What could you really do with it? 

00:13:28 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And sure, apparently. 

00:13:31 Dr. Mark Jackson 

He worked on this problem for about a year in secret. 

00:13:34 Dr. Mark Jackson 

From what I understand, because he didn’t think it was actually going to be solved and and so. 

00:13:40 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So for those of you who aren’t. 

00:13:41 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Here with. 

00:13:41 Dr. Mark Jackson 

This sure found a way to use quantum computers to efficiently factor large numbers into constituent primes, so you could use a quantum computer to figure out what prime numbers you need to multiply together to get some given number, and the reason that you would want to do this is because this is the basis for a lot of cryptography, the RSA. 

00:14:02 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Encryption algorithm is based on the fact that this is normally very difficult for computers to do and so sure discovered that it’s very efficient for quantum computers to do. 

00:14:12 Dr. Mark Jackson 

If you had a sufficiently powerful quantum computer, and so this was the first useful. 

00:14:18 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Quantum algorithm and. 

00:14:21 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I I think he did this around 91 or so. Uhm, back then, of course we didn’t have quantum computers, but it did make national security type people pay attention because they realize that there could be a threat at some point in the future. 

00:14:34 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And now there’s very much a threat from this. 

00:14:36 Dr. Mark Jackson 

People are very concerned about this and are actively taking steps to protect. 

00:14:40 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Against this type of hacking. 

00:14:42 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So yes, I think Shores algorithm was the first useful. 

00:14:46 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Discovered for a quantum computer. 

00:14:48 Frank 

Interesting yeah, ’cause I remember there was some guidance from some national cyber security I live. 

00:14:54 Frank 

In the DC area so. 

00:14:56 Frank 

That basically saying, hey, you probably should prepare for a quantum computer and they. 

00:15:00 Frank 

Said this, you know. 

00:15:01 Frank 

Maybe 2017 and all of us kind of in, you know, the the the regular nerds and engineers like. You know we’re like, what do they know we don’t know. 

00:15:14 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s easy to be dismissive of it and and. 



00:15:17 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Today’s quantum computers still can’t do that type of hacking, but the reason that their advice was correct was for two reasons. 

00:15:24 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The first is that it takes time to make this upgrade, so so people have developed what are called post quantum encryption algorithms, so it’s different mathematical formulas which we don’t think quantum computers could hack, and so you can. 

00:15:37 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Change your encryption algorithms to. 

00:15:40 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Be based on these new mathematics, and that process takes time. 

00:15:43 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s installing a lot of software, and if you’ve ever worked for a large company or a government agency, you know the facts to take a long, long time, months and years. 

00:15:48 Frank 

How’s the state government agency? 

00:15:51 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So, so that’s the first reason. 

00:15:53 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The second reason I would suggest starting early is because there are rumors that bad actors and governments. 

00:16:00 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Are archiving things right now so that in a few years they could decipher it using quantum computers if they were advanced enough? 

00:16:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so for those two reasons, I would strongly encourage anyone listening who’s in a position to do so to to upgrade to post quantum encryption. 

00:16:17 Frank 

Interesting, interesting. 

00:16:17 Andy 

I’ve I’ve been really impressed with this whole idea of people kind of figuring out quantum theory or problems that quantum computing can solve before quantum computers even existed. 

00:16:31 Andy 

I mean, that’s just that’s just amazing to me. 

00:16:36 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It is amazing and we still don’t know the answer, so I think you’re probably familiar with this whole P&P type type type problem. Yeah, so so so. 

00:16:44 Frank 

I was going to. 

00:16:44 Frank 

Ask about that. 

00:16:45 Frank 

So is there yes? 

00:16:48 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So mathematicians have have for a long time concerned themselves with how difficult certain problems are, and so they’ve invented all these categories of how difficult problems are, and factoring numbers is a perfect example. 

00:17:01 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s easy to. 

00:17:03 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Multiply numbers together and get an answer. 

00:17:05 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s very efficient and straightforward, but going the other way. 

00:17:09 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Given a number, it’s it’s not very efficient to figure out the prime number. 

00:17:13 Frank 

You can always put more salt in the soup, but you can’t take the salt out of the sweet point, even though. 

00:17:13 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so there’s this. 

00:17:16 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Exactly, so there’s there’s a world of problems and and there’s problems that are easy to check that they’re right, like Sudoku. 

00:17:23 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s very easy to confirm if someone gives you a solution to check. 

00:17:27 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Easy to check if that is a correct solution, but it’s difficult to figure out what that correct solution was if you didn’t have it. 

00:17:34 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Given to you and so, so mathematicians have invented all these classes of difficulty for different problems, and now quantum computing has stirred things up because there’s problems that are are very difficult for a classical computer to solve, but they’re easy for a quantum computer, and there’s problems that are still difficult for a quantum computer, and so so now we have all these other new categories. 

00:17:55 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And the boundaries aren’t always clear. 

00:17:57 Dr. Mark Jackson 

For example, we thought that we had an understanding of problems that were difficult on normal computers and easy on quantum computers, and then a very smart grad student a few years ago figured out that. 

00:18:12 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Being inspired by a quantum computer LED them to invent a new solution for a classical computer, which was just as fast. 

00:18:21 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Overturning a lot of what? 

00:18:23 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The our biases about what was difficult and what was not so clearly we have a lot to learn about the difficult and easy problems for quantum computing. 

00:18:31 Frank 

So is that quantum inspired computing ’cause I’m seeing that term pop up more and more? 

00:18:35 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yeah, yeah, so quantum inspired is is becoming a popular term because even though we don’t have super powerful quantum computers yet, just this way of thinking has LED us to think of new approaches. 

00:18:47 Frank 

Now it’s that that that is fascinating and there’s so much to unpack there. 

00:18:50 Frank 

I don’t think we’ll get it all in. 

00:18:52 Frank 

One show, but. 

00:18:55 Frank 

Quantum inspired algorithms now do they run on so? 

00:18:59 Frank 

One of my first exposure I’ve heard of quantum computing, but my first like ah Ha moment was at an internal Microsoft conference which was also had another a-ha moment there a few years back, but ultimately ultimately it was kind of this discussion on what. 

00:19:14 Frank 

Quantum can do now. 

00:19:16 Frank 

The thing that blew my mind was that there was this notion of simulating quantum computers on conventional hardware now. 

00:19:24 Frank 

I’ve read things that kind of confuse me, ’cause it’s not that hard to confuse me in this space, but uhm. 

00:19:31 Frank 

Is quantum inspired algorithms? 

00:19:33 Frank 

Mean that there’s a simulated quantum computer on on conventional. 

00:19:38 Frank 

Or is there this a third class altogether? 

00:19:41 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They’re yeah, they’re they’re similar sounding, but they’re actually distinct concepts, so so there are quantum simulators. 

00:19:48 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So what a quantum computer does really is it just does a lot of matrix calculations and then it measures the qubits and you get binary output. 

00:19:58 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so that. 

00:19:59 Dr. Mark Jackson 

That’s something that you could do on a normal computer. 

00:20:01 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You can set up a big linear algebra system and you can add some linear operators and then you just measure things and you see what the output is so you can do this on a classical computer, but it takes a lot of time to do all these operations, whereas on a quantum computer nature does all of them for you. 



00:20:18 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And and so this is what we do often when we’re when we’re building and testing quantum programs. 

00:20:26 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We actually do them on simulators on classical computers because quantum hardware is very expensive right now and it’s. 

00:20:32 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Not very powerful. 

00:20:33 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You can simulate up to about 30 cubits on a laptop, and you could do up to about 40 cubits on a supercomputer. 

00:20:41 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And that might sound a little funny because 40 doesn’t sound like that much more than 30. 

00:20:46 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So why does it take a whole super computer just to get those extra 10 cubits? And the reason is because remember for every cubit that you add, you’re doubling the number of configurations that you’re considering. So adding adding just 10 cubits means it’s 1000 times it’s two to 10. 

00:21:04 Dr. Mark Jackson 

More configurations and a supercomputer is about 1000 times more powerful than a. 

00:21:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Up top and so that’s that’s why. 

00:21:10 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So yes, for simple programs you can pretend like you’re using a quantum computer when you’re actually just using a normal computer, and that is what we do now. 

00:21:20 Dr. Mark Jackson 

A lot of the time, but eventually we will want to use real quantum computers because that’s where the power is because. 

00:21:28 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They could do things that we never could hope to have solved using normal computers. 

00:21:32 Frank 

Right, right the the uh-huh moment I had when I first heard about this, was the notion that if there was a problem that would computationally take ten, 10,000 years worth of compute. 

00:21:43 Frank 

A quantum computer could do it in, you know, maybe 60 seconds, but a conventional computer simulating a quantum computer could do it in about 10. 

00:21:51 Frank 

Months now, while ten months is still a lot longer than. 

00:21:56 Frank 

You know 90 seconds. 

00:21:58 Frank 

It’s it’s still. 

00:22:01 Frank 

A heck of. 

00:22:01 Frank 

A lot faster than 10,000 years. 

00:22:04 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yes, precisely. 

00:22:06 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So sometimes just thinking about the problem in a quantum like way might lead us some more efficient approach or something, but unfortunately you can’t. 

00:22:15 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You can’t trick nature. 

00:22:16 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You can’t make the classical computer behave like a quantum computer, at least not at a powerful level. 

00:22:20 Frank 


00:22:23 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You can only do 30 or 40 qubits. 

00:22:26 Frank 

That reality is awfully persistent. 


Yeah so. 

00:22:30 Andy 

One one of the things I’ve read about just kind of listening, yeah, and I’m again on the periphery of this and and fascinating. 

00:22:38 Andy 

Is there are some specific issues that we’re dealing with now and one of them that I’ve heard about is noise? 

00:22:48 Andy 

And there’s apparently these are very noisy and and determining the values is impacted by this pretty greatly. 

00:22:56 Andy 

Can you speak to that? 

00:22:58 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Sure, so we do often talk about the noise of quantum computers. 

00:23:02 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And just to clarify, that doesn’t mean the actual. 

00:23:06 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Loudness of the machine? 

00:23:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Uh, I’ve I’ve had people ask me are they just loud now when we talk about the noise, what we’re referring to is the qubits, the quantum bits? 

00:23:16 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The fundamental ingredient here, those these are quantum systems, and so they’re very fragile. 

00:23:22 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They’re very easily disturbed, and then they lose their quantum properties. 

00:23:26 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Which that’s what’s responsible for all this magic and and so. 

00:23:34 Dr. Mark Jackson 

What we in a very important characteristic, is how accurate these qubits are and how long they can last, how long they can maintain their quantum properties. 

00:23:42 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So when we talk about noise, what we mean is how likely are they to make a mistake and give the wrong answer. 

00:23:49 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And there are lots of sources of noise, so it could just be the ambient environment. 

00:23:54 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And This is why some approaches in quantum computing like superconducting. 

00:23:57 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They keep the qubits very very cold near absolute 0, because just the the usual thermal jitters disturb the cube. 

00:24:04 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s another source of noise. 

00:24:07 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Are the neighboring qubits, so you want the qubits to interact at some level? 

00:24:12 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Because that’s where interesting things happen with interactions, but you don’t want them interacting when you don’t want them interacting. 

00:24:18 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I know that sounds like a tautology, but yeah, you want to control the interactions and so so there’s a lot of potential. 

00:24:25 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Sources of noise there, and so right now. 

00:24:29 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They work most of the time, but not all of the time. 

00:24:32 Dr. Mark Jackson 

What we would like to do is get the noise down enough that we can use something called quantum error correction. 

00:24:40 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And this is where we very cleverly spread the information of 1 qubit among several qubits. 

00:24:47 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And it was actually Peter Shor, the same Peter Shor As for his algorithm. 

00:24:51 Dr. Mark Jackson 

He was the one who came up with the first quantum error correction scheme. 

00:24:56 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And this this might not sound so dramatic because we do error correction for normal computers. 

00:25:01 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So why is it so different for a quantum computer? 

00:25:05 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The reason it’s so different is with a normal computer. 

00:25:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Doing error correction, it’s very straightforward. 

00:25:10 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You simply make 3 copies of a bit. 

00:25:14 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So instead of having one bit with your information, you just triplicate it, and so then if one bit happens to do something wrong, if it happens to go from a zero to a one, or vice versa. 

00:25:25 Dr. Mark Jackson 

That’s OK, you just take the majority. 

00:25:28 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so as long as it’s unlikely that a bit flips, then the majority will usually represent the correct answer, and so that’s that’s all you need to do, right? 

00:25:37 Dr. Mark Jackson 

But here’s why you can’t do that with a quantum computer. 

00:25:40 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Quantum physics has this rule that you can’t duplicate quantum information. 

00:25:45 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You can move it around, but you can’t make a copy of it. 

00:25:48 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And you can’t even measure it without disturbing it. 

00:25:52 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so there’s no way to make that duplication, so you can’t do that replication, and you can’t even measure it to see if something. 

00:25:59 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Is wrong? 

00:26:00 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So so if if you had told me that quantum error correction was impossible, I actually would have believed you. 

00:26:06 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Fortunately, Peter Shor is much much smarter than I am. 

00:26:10 Dr. Mark Jackson 

He found a very clever way to. 

00:26:12 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Spread the information of a qubit among several qubits. 

00:26:15 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And then by measuring these auxiliary cubits, you can determine whether there’s a mistake, and if there is correct it, and you can do this all without measuring the original cubit. 

00:26:26 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so yeah, it’s it’s really amazing and clever how it’s done. 

00:26:30 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And but but it actually the mathematics of this was worked out some time ago, and so there is a way to do this quantum. 

00:26:36 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Error correction. 

00:26:37 Dr. Mark Jackson 

But the problem is that by adding more qubits to do this. 

00:26:42 Dr. Mark Jackson 

If the likelihood of 1 qubit feeling is high, that means the likelihood of several qubits feeling is even higher. 

00:26:48 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So unless the error rate is very low to begin with, you’ve actually made the problem worse, not better. 

00:26:54 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so This is why we need the error rate to be really small. 

00:26:58 Dr. Mark Jackson 

To use error correction and right now we can’t quite do that. 

00:27:01 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We’re just on the verge. 

00:27:02 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So about two months ago, Honeywell and Google published articles in which they took the first steps of doing this. 

00:27:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They demonstrated this in in very simple cases, so we are starting to do this. 

00:27:12 Dr. Mark Jackson 

What we would like is that we just do this for all the qubits all the time. 

00:27:16 Dr. Mark Jackson 

When we run programs. 

00:27:18 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So yeah, so so that that’s. 

00:27:20 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The path that we’re on. 

00:27:22 Frank 

Interesting, so when Google or D wave say they have 1000 qubit system. 

00:27:28 Frank 

There’s there’s this distinction because of the errors and error correction, there’s a distinction between logical qubits and physical qubits. 

00:27:35 Frank 

Is that correct? 

00:27:35 Dr. Mark Jackson 

That’s correct, so. 

00:27:37 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There is a difference between them. 

00:27:39 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Umso physical qubit, as the name implies, is the actual qubit there on the quantum computer, the logical qubit is how much information is stored, and so when. 

00:27:48 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We have one logical qubit that might be spread over several physical qubits, and so that’s the that’s the cost of doing. 

00:27:57 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Error correction is that you need many more physical qubits to represent one logical qubit. 

00:28:01 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Since you mentioned D Wave, I should probably point out an important distinction. 

00:28:05 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The D wave quantum computers are what are called. 

00:28:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Annealing quantum annealing or simulated annealing, and so, even though they’re called qubits, they behave in a very different way than the gate based approach to quantum computing that Google or IBM or Honeywell or other groups use. 

00:28:21 Dr. Mark Jackson 

In those approaches, you can control the individual qubits, whereas in the annealing approach. 

00:28:28 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You have all the qubits kind of behaving together. 

00:28:31 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And you don’t get to control the behavior of any individual one, so it’s annealing is suited for one specific problem, whereas gate based approach you have much more control over the qubits and you can apply a variety of different programs. 

00:28:48 Andy 

Yeah, so one of the other things that I. 

00:28:50 Andy 

Read about that. 

00:28:51 Andy 

I guess relatively recent. 

00:28:53 Andy 

I’m not positive of this is. 

00:28:56 Andy 

It’s a silicon based qubit solution is that one of the ones you were just talking about? 

00:29:03 Andy 

Is that annealing or the other? 

00:29:05 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s it’s gate based. 

00:29:06 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yes so so I believe Dwave and Fujitsu are the two groups using the annealing based. 

00:29:07 Andy 


00:29:14 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The other companies that that you’re probably familiar with, uh, use the gate based approach in which you can control the different qubits. 

00:29:22 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There’s a lot of ways to build those qubits, and so so silicon is 1, superconducting is 1 ion trap is 1, photonic is 1, so there’s a lot of technologies that you can use to do that. 

00:29:35 Dr. Mark Jackson 

But you can represent them all by these these circuit diagrams you might have seen where you have. 

00:29:40 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Qubits flowing from left to right and you act upon them with different gates, and these are all matrix operations and such, yeah? 

00:29:49 Andy 

Very cool. 

00:29:50 Frank 

Interesting so. 

00:29:55 Frank 

Annealing what is that? 

00:29:57 Frank 

Just kind of that takes the average of of kind of a bunch of qubits and you just kind of. 

00:30:02 Frank 

Measure that. 

00:30:03 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yes, so so in the annealing approach, you encode your mathematical problem. 

00:30:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So it’s one specific problem called Qubo Quantum, or sorry, quadratic unconstrained binary optimization. 

00:30:16 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so if you happen to have that type of mathematical problem, you can encode your problem in the couplings between the qubits. 

00:30:24 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And then you allow the system to find the lowest energy configuration and that will. 

00:30:30 Dr. Mark Jackson 

That will depend upon these couplings that you’ve set, and the solution that it comes up with will be the solution to your problem. 

00:30:37 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I sometimes joke it’s it’s a bit like a Ouija board. 

00:30:40 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Where you, you ask? 

00:30:42 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You ask the question? 

00:30:44 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And then the the Ouija board, you know, kind of produces the answer for you. 

00:30:50 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Don’t supposedly control the device on the Ouija board. 

00:30:55 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The answer just sort of appears before you, and so it’s a bit like that in that you set up the couplings how you wish, and then you you ask it to go to the lowest energy configuration. 

00:31:04 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And that’s the answer to your problem. 

00:31:09 Andy 

Well, no, well did. 

00:31:09 Frank 

This is a graphic. 

00:31:11 Andy 

What’s curious to me about this. 

00:31:13 Andy 

It’s just it’s. 

00:31:14 Andy 

It’s fascinating. 

00:31:15 Andy 

All of this is fascinating. 

00:31:16 Andy 

To me. 

00:31:17 Andy 

And again, I’ve kind of read the pop SCI versions. 

00:31:21 Andy 

You know what’s going on? 

00:31:22 Andy 

I don’t understand the math. 

00:31:25 Andy 

I do understand some of the problem classes when we talk, you know the PNP and and that and it’s very interesting to me that you’re the first person I’ve heard say that there are problems even beyond what we’re talking about. 

00:31:40 Andy 

Being able to solve. 

00:31:41 Andy 

Well, with quantum computing the the the couple of things that just come to mind. 

00:31:47 Andy 

But one of them is this idea of being able to do like follow all of the paths. 

00:31:54 Andy 

All of the permutations simultaneously. 

00:31:58 Andy 

And you know that just that’s just something that I I don’t get, but it’s not I. 

00:32:05 Andy 

I accept it. 

00:32:06 Andy 

I’m not arguing with it, but it just seems like OK, you know, as a traditional electronics engineer, I’m used to look at, you know, measuring the output of the transistor and if it crosses this threshold, it’s a. 

00:32:18 Andy 

One, and if it’s below that threshold. 

00:32:20 Andy 

It’s a zero and trying to think about. 

00:32:24 Andy 

It it’s almost it’s not magic, but it’s using the fabric of the universe. 

00:32:33 Andy 

To allow us to do things like try all of the the paths in the maze at once, you just. 

00:32:40 Andy 

I don’t. 

00:32:40 Andy 

I don’t know if you wanted to speak to to any of that and and help me out help me get my. 

00:32:44 Andy 

Mind around it a little bit more. 

00:32:46 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Sure, sure what you’ve described is true. 

00:32:49 Dr. Mark Jackson 

In fact, it’s very literally true that that in quantum computing it takes all the paths. 

00:32:54 Dr. Mark Jackson 

This is actually the the core of quantum physics and it’s so unfamiliar to us in our in our day-to-day lives that it can seem it seems crazy, but this is actually how nature works. 

00:33:07 Dr. Mark Jackson 

When things happen. 

00:33:09 Dr. Mark Jackson 

To us, it seems like there’s one reality like one thing has happened. 

00:33:13 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We throw a ball up and it goes up a little ways and then it comes back down so the ball has a very definite position at each moment in time. 

00:33:20 Dr. Mark Jackson 

But what quantum physics teaches us is that that’s actually not quite true. 

00:33:25 Dr. Mark Jackson 

When we do something, the ball will take every single possible path, no matter how crazy. 

00:33:31 Dr. Mark Jackson 

That that means it flies to the moon and back. 

00:33:33 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It flies to outer space. 

00:33:34 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It splits apart like every possible thing. 

00:33:38 Dr. Mark Jackson 

In that, so every atom in that ball will do every crazy conceivable thing. 

00:33:43 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The reason we don’t see all those things is that all of them cancel each other out except one configuration, and that one that’s left is the one that we call classical physics. 

00:33:54 Dr. Mark Jackson 

That’s what that’s what Newton would have written down and, and that’s. 

00:33:59 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Seems a little strange. 

00:34:00 Dr. Mark Jackson 

How did they cancel each other out and so? 

00:34:02 Dr. Mark Jackson 

This This is why quantum physics works. 

00:34:04 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s that each of those possibilities has what’s called a phase to. 

00:34:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It so it’s like a complex number, right? 

00:34:11 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The complex circle. 

00:34:13 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Each of those configurations has a little arrow pointed attached to it, and what happens is that all of the non classical solutions the arrows cancel each other out. 

00:34:25 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They’re in opposite directions. 

00:34:27 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There’s only one solution of all of those that doesn’t get cancelled out, and that’s what we call classical physics. 

00:34:35 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And so This is why for most of our lives we can be completely unaware of quantum physics because we just see one reality, and that’s the classical physics version. 

00:34:45 Dr. Mark Jackson 

When we do quantum computing, we are including every single. 

00:34:49 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Possibility there and most of them will cancel out. 

00:34:54 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The correct answer will emerge. 

00:34:57 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So for example when we do quantum machine learning problems. 

00:35:01 Dr. Mark Jackson 

When we when we give it a problem and then. 

00:35:04 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We measure the. 

00:35:04 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Output we get sort of a histogram of different solutions and hopefully the correct solution is the one that peaks. 

00:35:14 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There’s still maybe some of the wrong solutions mixed in there a little bit, and that’s why we usually run the program several times, like 1000 times to get a smooth hist. 

00:35:23 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Umm, but yeah, this is what we’re doing with a quantum computer is that we’re actually looking at all of these possibilities. 

00:35:30 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And hopefully the if the program is written correctly. 

00:35:33 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The correct answer will be the peak of that, but there’s still maybe some some little clutter of the wrong solutions in there. 

00:35:40 Andy 

That’s fascinating to me, that yeah, yeah, that that’s. 

00:35:40 Frank 

So it’s probabilistic. 

00:35:43 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s probabilistic that that. 

00:35:44 Dr. Mark Jackson 

That’s exactly that’s the tradeoff. 

00:35:46 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Quantum computers can do things fast. 

00:35:48 Dr. Mark Jackson 

But you’re not 100% guaranteed to get the correct answer. 

00:35:53 Andy 

That is very interesting. It’s amazing to me that you know all of this stuff was proposed in in math by physicists 100 years ago more than 100 years ago. They were doing the math and they were able to see, hey, there’s this possibility. And then when they started looking at stuff they you know they started getting these results that didn’t fit. 

00:36:12 Andy 

Any classical model. 

00:36:14 Andy 

And it was I, I understand, just from reading a little bit of the history that a number of people didn’t accept it. 

00:36:23 Andy 

You know, they just really smart people looked at the outcomes and said this makes no sense and but the math was telling them yes, this is what. 

00:36:33 Andy 

Will happen. 

00:36:34 Andy 

And it’s just it’s fascinating. 

00:36:36 Andy 

Quantum tunneling and and all of that. 

00:36:38 Andy 

And what’s super cool about this now is people who work in this field like you Mark you’re. 

00:36:46 Andy 

You’re seeing these results. 

00:36:48 Andy 

You’re able to measure it and see it do these things and and then come back with. 

00:36:54 Andy 

Data that you then form into a histogram looking for the right answer or a close enough answer. 

00:37:00 Andy 

And then you’re applying some more math to it. 

00:37:02 Andy 

Probable probability math and coming out with the answer that is just incredible, I think. 

00:37:08 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It it is incredible and and what you said is is flattering. 

00:37:12 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I’m I’m not one of the ones programming them or or building them. 

00:37:16 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s fortunately left to people much smarter than myself, but I ask. 

00:37:19 Andy 

Yeah, you understand it, though. 

00:37:21 Andy 

I mean you’ve got that background in theoretical physics and my goodness you worked with, you know? 

00:37:25 Andy 

Brian Greene, who’s scary smart and a good communicator, which is a nice combination. 

00:37:33 Dr. Mark Jackson 

He he doesn’t need both of those things. 

00:37:33 Andy 

And you’re a great communicator too, so you know. 

00:37:36 Andy 

I, I really appreciate the you know the. 

00:37:40 Andy 

You know just the explanations of it because you’re explaining this, where even I can understand it and hopefully that means that most of our audience can pick this up as well, so. 

00:37:50 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Thank you. 

00:37:52 Frank 

So another question here and this is a question I get a lot and I don’t really know. 

00:37:55 Frank 

How to answer? 

00:37:56 Frank 

That how do you debug a quantum program? 

00:38:00 Dr. Mark Jackson 

That’s an excellent question, and and it’s a subtle point that a lot of people. 

00:38:04 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Don’t acknowledge because we just take for granted when we write normal programs that we can peek inside and track the value of variables so that if something is going wrong we can identify exactly where the mismatch is. 

00:38:16 Dr. Mark Jackson 

In quantum computers, you don’t get to do that because you don’t get to peek inside it. 

00:38:19 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The values of the cube. 

00:38:22 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You initialize the qubits and then you perform the operations and then you measure them, but in between the initialization and the measurement, the qubits are in these superpositions and entanglements and any attempt to peek inside spoils it. 

00:38:35 Dr. Mark Jackson 

And So what we do is we run them on simulators. 

00:38:40 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So this is where simulators come in. 

00:38:42 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So using a classical computer we mimic a quantum system. 

00:38:48 Dr. Mark Jackson 

But we all we allow ourselves to peek inside and see where something is going wrong. 

00:38:53 Frank 

Interesting, so that’s how you do it, but you couldn’t do real debugging on a proper quantum computer. 

00:38:58 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You couldn’t do real debugging because actually trying to determine the value of the qubit. 

00:39:03 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We’ll spoil it it. 

00:39:05 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We say it collapses the wavefunction and eliminates the quantum properties. 

00:39:07 Frank 


00:39:10 Frank 

Wow, so then the the future of making super computers. 

00:39:16 Frank 

Is probably bright, so you could do debugging. 

00:39:21 Frank 

Because what if you you know if you if let’s just say we had a? 

00:39:24 Frank 

60 qubit system. 

00:39:29 Frank 

And you wanted to do some debugging or maybe even unit testing. 

00:39:35 Frank 

You would have to have some kind of supercomputer. 

00:39:37 Frank 

You couldn’t just get away with just a quantum, at least as we understand it. 

00:39:40 Frank 

Now, I. 

00:39:41 Frank 

Mean so. 

00:39:42 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You would, yeah. 

00:39:43 Dr. Mark Jackson 

You you would have to run some subset of your program on a on on this on the simulator. 

00:39:46 Frank 

Oh, OK. 

00:39:48 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So if you can identify that the problem is happening in. 

00:39:51 Dr. Mark Jackson 

These twenty qubits then. 

00:39:53 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Then you could run that on a simulator and identify where the problem is. 

00:39:57 Frank 

Wow, OK. 

00:40:00 Frank 

So so in terms of career. 

00:40:02 Frank 

Opportunities in this space, and I think this is the thing. 

00:40:04 Frank 

That excites me the most obviously. 

00:40:07 Frank 

Uhm, you know? 

00:40:09 Andy 

What are? 

00:40:09 Frank 

Your thoughts in in that because I think I. 

00:40:11 Frank 

Think it it it’s. 

00:40:14 Frank 

I think that. 

00:40:14 Frank 

Quantum for the near term will kind. 

00:40:16 Frank 

Of be a separate ecosystem. 

00:40:19 Frank 

Eventually it’ll all collapse, then it’ll all be one big kind of tech industry, but I don’t see that happening. 

00:40:25 Frank 

Uhm, for at least maybe two decades. 

00:40:28 Frank 

That’s kind of my gut feel. 

00:40:31 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We are struggling a bit to hire people because you do have to have such specialized knowledge and it’s only in the past few years that that universities are starting to offer this as a specialized area. 

00:40:41 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Most of the hires that we’ve done for the younger generation. 

00:40:48 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yeah, they. 

00:40:50 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They’ve often come from other areas for closely related areas like physics, mathematics, computer science. 

00:40:55 Dr. Mark Jackson 

But yeah, we. 

00:40:57 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We can’t always expect it. 

00:40:59 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They have a specialized degree in quantum computing or quantum information science, and I might add. 

00:41:07 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Even the business people like myself as I mentioned, I’m on the business side of the company. 

00:41:11 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Even us often have. 

00:41:14 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Backgrounds in science, other people on the business development team, with myself, one has a PhD in chemistry. One has a pH D in nanotechnology and so. So we’ve joked that even our sales people have PHD’s inside. 

00:41:29 Andy 

It’s pretty awesome. 

00:41:30 Andy 

The we’ve heard that in the past there have been these winters where we hit the wall of, you know, technology and science of the day. 

00:41:41 Andy 

And we just can’t breakthrough that until there’s some more advanced technology developed. 

00:41:48 Andy 

There’s more theory that’s proposed, and all of that is that something on the horizon are we there now? 

00:41:56 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I’m not aware of any wall. 

00:41:58 Dr. Mark Jackson 

There are challenges, but people seem confident that that they can work through them. 

00:42:00 Andy 


00:42:05 Dr. Mark Jackson 

We have quantum computers, so if you had told me 40 years ago that quantum computing is a nice idea, but we would never be able to build them. 

00:42:13 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I would have believed you. 

00:42:14 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I think a lot of people were skeptical, even even up to about seven years ago. 

00:42:20 Dr. Mark Jackson 

But now we do have quantum computers. 

00:42:23 Dr. Mark Jackson 

In fact, a lot of people that I speak to they still don’t believe that. 

00:42:27 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I think it’s kind of a boy who cried wolf type effect because they had heard they had heard for so many years that quantum computers are 10 years away and they don’t. 

00:42:36 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They don’t understand that that we actually have them. 

00:42:39 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Now they can do problems. 

00:42:42 Dr. Mark Jackson 

They can solve problems that are difficult for normal computers to do, but they’re not quite impossible. 

00:42:51 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So yeah, it’s uh, there is kind of a misunderstanding there. 

00:42:56 Frank 

Interesting, and I think. 

00:42:58 Frank 

I don’t, I just a fascinating field. 

00:43:00 Frank 

So much opportunity and it’s just it’s accelerating. 

00:43:03 Frank 

Like I I don’t know if this is true, but I heard that it. 

00:43:06 Frank 

There was some research firm or or somebody. 

00:43:08 Frank 

Had had had. 

00:43:09 Frank 

A cubit stable for 9 seconds, and I had to read it twice. 

00:43:12 Frank 

I’m like, oh they must have meant like 9 NS and it’s like no nine actual regular on your digital watch seconds which. 

00:43:20 Dr. Mark Jackson 

That’s true, yeah. 

00:43:21 Dr. Mark Jackson 

So one of the. 

00:43:24 Dr. Mark Jackson 

One of the technologies used to build qubits. 

00:43:26 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The ion trap method I. 

00:43:28 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I believe that’s probably the technology employed in what you’re referring to. 

00:43:30 Frank 

Think it will as well. 

00:43:33 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It can keep qubits coherent. 

00:43:35 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Maintaining the quantum properties for an amazingly long. 

00:43:38 Dr. Mark Jackson 


00:43:39 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Uh, on the order of seconds. 

00:43:41 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Uh, another technology? Superconducting technology? 

00:43:46 Dr. Mark Jackson 

It’s it is on the order of microseconds, so you would have been correct. 

00:43:50 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The trade off is that the superconducting technology has operations which happen much faster and the ion trap technology has operations which are slower and and funny enough it actually the relative scale is remarkably similar, so you can you can get. 

00:44:05 Dr. Mark Jackson 

A few 100 operations in before the coherence decays. 

00:44:09 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Uhm, so it’s it’s, uh, it’s actually funny. 

00:44:12 Dr. Mark Jackson 

The way it scales. 

00:44:12 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yeah, uhm? 

00:44:15 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Both of the technologies are of course trying to increase the coherence time and decrease the operation time. 

00:44:23 Frank 

This is such a fascinating field, we could probably talk to you for. 

00:44:26 Frank 

Another hour and definitely love to have you. 

00:44:28 Frank 

Back on the show. 

00:44:29 Frank 

We’ve been a. 

00:44:29 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Sure any anytime. 

00:44:31 Frank 

Great 1st guest hopefully yeah this has been awesome. 

00:44:33 Andy 

Yeah, thank you. 

00:44:35 Frank 

Want to be respectful of your time. 

00:44:37 Frank 

Thank you. 

00:44:37 Frank 

This has been awesome. 

00:44:39 Frank 

Audible is a sponsor of the show. 

00:44:40 Frank 

Do you do audiobooks? 

00:44:43 Frank 

Sometimes any recommendations? 

00:44:47 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I I have to give this some thought but yes I I have done a few of them. 

00:44:51 Frank 

Alright, so while you’re giving that some thought, I picked this book up. 

00:44:56 Frank 

This is an excellent book, quantum Boost and after reading I’m only like halfway through it. 

00:45:02 Frank 

It’s actually a. 

00:45:02 Frank 

Pretty good read. 

00:45:04 Frank 

This the amount of what I like about this is if you’re not a quantum physicist and you’re just kind of either an engineer or I think this is really geared towards business decision makers, explain. 

00:45:16 Frank 

Means these technologies in a way that kind of makes sense. 

00:45:20 Frank 

Like you know what’s the difference between annealing versus photonic versus ion trap and all that. 

00:45:25 Frank 

There are paragraphs on that and it kind of talks about specific industry uses, and it’s like it’s like after reading this I was extremely like enthused like wow, this really is a real opportunity and. 

00:45:36 Frank 

It’s written by Brian Lenihan, who hopefully will be on the show soon I think. 

00:45:41 Frank 

Andy worked that out and. 

00:45:44 Frank 

Yeah, it’s it’s it’s I think. 

00:45:46 Frank 

The one takeaway I would leave folks with at least and you can correct me if I’m wrong, is that we’re. 

00:45:51 Frank 

At the we’re at. 

00:45:52 Frank 

The the transistor was just invented stage. 

00:45:56 Frank 

We’re kind of. 

00:45:56 Frank 

In maybe the mid to late 60s on this in terms of. 

00:46:00 Dr. Mark Jackson 

I think that’s a very good analogy. 

00:46:02 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Yeah, because we see that the core concept does work at some level and now it’s a matter of engineering and scaling it too to really be useful, yeah? 

00:46:11 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Uhm, so yeah. 

00:46:12 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Speaking of audible since we talked about Brian Green and string theory, I see that his book, The Elegant Universe talking about string theory is available on audible, so I might recommend. 

00:46:21 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Not to people. 

00:46:22 Frank 

Awesome, go to a. 

00:46:23 Frank 

Data driven book. 

00:46:24 Frank 

Com and you’ll get one free audible book on us if you get a subscription. 

00:46:28 Frank 

It helps support the shows, not just one show anymore, and where can folks find out more about you, mark and kind of Cambridge. 

00:46:38 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Cambridge Quantum Yeah, so I would first suggest they come to our website cambridgequantum.com and they can learn more about. 

00:46:45 Dr. Mark Jackson 

US and our activities there and if they would like to email me, my email is mark.jackson@cambridgequantum.com. 

00:46:54 Frank 

All right, well thank you very much for being on the show and we’ll let the nice British lady and do the end credits awesome. 

00:47:00 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Great, thank you, Frank. 

00:47:02 Dr. Mark Jackson 

Thank you Andy. 

00:47:03 BAILey 

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00:47:06 BAILey 

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