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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In a paper today, a trio of scientists claim the first proof that quantum computers can outstrip conventional technology.

Why it matters: In the belief that quantum computing will become a massive, strategic industry, private companies and investors, along with the U.S. and foreign governments, have spent billions of dollars on research into the field. But until today, it wasn’t certain that the technology would be faster than supercomputers we can build now.

Details: The authors of the theoretical proof, published today in Science, showed that quantum computers can solve some problems faster than conventional machines.

  • A classical computer — the field’s word for the computers we use today — would need to be impossibly powerful to solve these increasingly difficult problems.
  • Until now, the biggest hint of a quantum advantage has been that for some problems, the best quantum algorithms that have been discovered are faster than the best classical algorithms discovered so far.
  • That was a pretty big hint, but not proof.

"Our result shows that quantum information processing really does provide benefits — without having to rely on unproven complexity-theoretic conjectures," said Robert König, a co-author of the paper, in a statement from the Technical University of Munich, where he teaches. The other authors are IBM’s Sergey Bravyi and David Gosset.

  • Current quantum computers are not yet capable of advanced computation. They likely won’t surpass the power of classical computers for years or even decades.

The stakes: The quantum advantage proven today is exactly the kind of edge that the U.S. and China are competing for in order to supercharge their economies and militaries.

Go deeper

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.