When Will Quantum Computing Have Its ENIAC Moment?

  • ENIAC moment. The stage at which a nascent technology is finally able to demonstrate that it is capable of solving a significant real-world problem — actually solving a problem and delivering substantial real-world value, in a manner which is a significant improvement over existing technologies. The moment when promises have been fulfilled.


Summary of main issues

  1. Need a lot more qubits — 500 to 1,000 rather than the current 50 to 100. And with support for a universal gate set supporting arbitrary quantum circuits on those qubits — special-purpose, single-function quantum computers won’t constitute an ENIAC moment.
  2. Need significantly longer coherence time — milliseconds rather than microseconds.
  3. Quantum error correction? May be needed eventually, but not for an ENIAC moment. A focus on reasonably stable qubits, longer coherence time, and reasonable environmental shielding is probably sufficient for an ENIAC moment.
  4. Need greater connectivity between more combinations of qubits — for entanglement.
  5. Need more and richer hardware features.
  6. Need more and richer firmware features. Including basic numeric math features and some uniquely quantum features such as quantum Fourier transform and phase estimation.
  7. Need better methods and tools for transforming classical-style algorithms to exploit the oddities of quantum computers and to exploit quantum parallelism.
  8. Need at least a healthy subset of the features of classical Turing machines, if not the full set of Turing machine features, merged and blended with the unique features of quantum computers. Maybe not a true, fully hybrid machine, but reasonably close.
  9. Need a few killer applications which really do show a distinctive quantum advantage over classical computing — and are not relatively trivial toy applications with very trivial amounts of data. And… they must be applications which the general public can relate to and appreciate as compelling. Unless the general public is stunningly captivated, there will be no ENIAC moment.
  10. A distinctive quantum advantage means that the application would not be practical on even a relatively large classical supercomputer or even a relatively large distributed network of classical computers. Or, at a minimum, the quantum program runs at least ten to a hundred if not a thousand times faster than a comparable algorithm on a reasonably fast classical computer.

ENIAC contemporaries

ENIAC very limited, but an essential critical mass

General purpose even if an initial target application

General purpose is key

Minimal capacity

General-purpose programming

Need Turing machine capabilities

Radical redesign of classical algorithms needed

Probabilistic vs. deterministic

Special purpose quantum computers don’t cut it


Need more qubits

Exploiting commercially-available components

Rolling your own qubits

Perfecting basic qubits

Difficulty of designing quantum algorithms

Lack of basic math

Lack of special math functions

Universal quantum computers

Critical mass of features needed

Applications ripe for quantum computing

Killer app for quantum computing

Classical computers are a tough act to follow

Quantum parallelism is difficult to exploit

And then the ENIAC moment arrives

Shor’s factoring algorithm as an ENIAC moment

No, the IBM Q System One was not a candidate for The ENIAC Moment

  • IBM Unveils World’s First Integrated Quantum Computing System for Commercial Use
  • IBM to Open Quantum Computation Center for Commercial Clients in Poughkeepsie, NY
  • YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y., Jan. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), IBM (NYSE: IBM) today unveiled IBM Q System One™, the world’s first integrated universal approximate quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use. IBM also announced plans to open its first IBM Q Quantum Computation Center for commercial clients in Poughkeepsie, New York in 2019.
  • https://newsroom.ibm.com/2019-01-08-IBM-Unveils-Worlds-First-Integrated-Quantum-Computing-System-for-Commercial-Use

ENIAC moment in five to seven years

Best qubit technology?

Secret labs?

Quantum Advantage and Quantum Supremacy

Quantum computing landscape continues to evolve




Freelance Consultant

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Jack Krupansky

Jack Krupansky

Freelance Consultant

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