In fall 2019, a team at Google made the first-ever claim of "quantum computational supremacy"—that is, a clear quantum speedup over a classical computer for some task—using a 53-qubit programmable superconducting chip called Sycamore. Since then, a group at USTC in China has made additional claims of quantum supremacy, using both superconducting qubits and "Boson Sampling" (a proposal by me and Alex Arkhipov from 2011) with ~70 photons in an optical network. In addition to engineering, these experiments built on a decade of research in quantum complexity theory. This talk will discuss questions like: what exactly were the contrived computational problems that were solved? How does one verify the outputs using a classical computer? And crucially, how confident can we be that the problems are really classically hard?
Scott Aaronson is the David J. Bruton Centennial Professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his bachelor's from Cornell University and his PhD from UC Berkeley. Before coming to UT Austin, he spent nine years as a professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. Aaronson's research in theoretical computer science has focused mainly on the capabilities and limits of quantum computers. His first book, Quantum Computing Since Democritus, was published in 2013 by Cambridge University Press. He received the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award, the United States PECASE Award, and the Tomassoni-Chisesi Prize in Physics. He is the recipient of the 2020 ACM Prize in Computing and a Fellow of ACM.