When I was getting close to the end of my masters degree, a fellow graduate student pulled me aside and asked me if I could think of any algorithms for a quantum computer… That turned into a rather successful biotechnology company here in Vancouver. As far as I was concerned, the quantum computer never materialised – but I don’t think they were necessary for that company. It would have been a nice touch, but it was never a core part of the strategy.
Now, as I near the end of my PhD, my supervisor asked me the same question today. Unfortunately, I’m still not sure that there’s a good answer to it either. I can think of great things I’d like to do with a quantum computer, but I still face the same problems as the first time around:
A) Does it actually exist?
B) When will it be ready?
and C) what can it do?
Coming up with problems is easy – coming up with problems that take advantage of an imaginary computer with imaginary strengths (of which I know very little) is hard.
Somehow, I don’t see this leading to a chapter in my theis. At least, this time, I don’t think I’ll lead to a start up company.