UMass Amherst Engineering Professor Joseph Bardin Part of Google Research Team That Reports Quantum Breakthrough in Computing

 Joseph Bardin served as a team member on a breakthrough Google research project.
Joseph Bardin served as a team member on a breakthrough Google research project.

AMHERST, Mass. – Joseph C. Bardin, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is a member of the multi-disciplinary research team that has published a new paper in the journal Nature that says Google, using a quantum computer, has achieved a breakthrough by performing a task that isn’t possible with traditional computers.

In the paper, scientists at Google’s research laboratory in Santa Barbara, Calif., say they have reached a milestone they call “quantum supremacy” by performing a mathematical calculation in three minutes and 20 seconds that today’s largest supercomputers could not complete in less than 10,000 years.

The paper, which has more than 70 authors, has received national news coverage including stories in The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Bardin, who is currently on leave at Google in California, says he works with the team on integrated circuit control and measurement electronics. He says, “This historic achievement required advancing the state of the art in many disciplines and, of course, was only enabled by a large coordinated team effort. It has been truly humbling to have the opportunity to work with the remarkable group of scientists that made this happen.”   

The quantum computer the Google scientists are using is different from ordinary devices because it relies on the way some objects react at the subatomic level or when they are subject to extreme cold, like metal chilled to 460 degrees below zero.

Scientists have known for a century that the predictable laws of Newtonian physics fall apart at the atomic and subatomic level. In this quantum realm, electrons leap instantaneously from one energy state to another. Particles can exist in multiple states at the same time, a phenomenon known as “superposition.” They can also stay connected across large distances, what modern physicists call “entanglement.”

In the paper, the research team says,Our Sycamore processor takes about 200 seconds to sample one instance of a quantum circuit a million times—our benchmarks currently indicate that the equivalent task for a state-of-the-art classical supercomputer would take approximately 10,000 years. This dramatic increase in speed compared to all known classical algorithms is an experimental realization of quantum supremacy for this specific computational task, heralding a much-anticipated computing paradigm.”