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Are there any engineering problems that quantum computing can solve or simulate, and demonstrate a real advantage over conventional computing by the year 2030?

My primary interest is in the business aspects of quantum computation, rather than the theoretical physics or mathematics. Moreover, I am interested in any and all solutions that quantum computing can provide in any discipline of engineering.

I have read the comments and answers to the questions
Is quantum computing just pie in the sky? and What kind of real-world problems (excluding cryptography) can be solved efficiently by a quantum algorithm? At that time not many engineering applications for QC were proposed, save for some applications in quantum chemistry. Over five years have passed since those questions were posed and I am posing my question here to see if these has been any new developments.

I am not interested in what “potentially” can be done with QCs but rather what, if anything, can be done in any discipline of engineering by the end of this decade, which is a reasonable business horizon.

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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn’t say the mathematics is abstract. Many algorithms contain abstract mathematical concepts (which is no different from classical computation), however the principles of quantum computation are rooted in real-world phenomena. This alone hints to an application; the simulation of physical systems that aren’t feasible to simulate on classical computers. $\endgroup$
    – banercat
    Aug 31, 2023 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ Try this one ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9314905. However note that QC and classical computers can solve the same set of problems. The difference is that in some cases QC are faster and can solve problems intractable to classical computers. There is no problem that classical computer cannot solve while quantum one can. But in some cases the solution would be found in thousands years on classical computer. $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2023 at 6:11
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    $\begingroup$ also, possible duplicate of quantumcomputing.stackexchange.com/q/2399/55. I think you should really clarify (by editing the question, not just in the comments) whether you mean "real-life applications" that can be realised with quantum computers today, or whether you mean applications in a hypothetical future were large-scale fault-tolerant quantum computers are available. $\endgroup$
    – glS
    Sep 1, 2023 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ The question was edited a number of times to make it focused and crystal clear. A good definition of the term “Engineering” can be found here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering. I am interested to know the answer(s) to my question in ANY and ALL fields of engineering. The closure of the question is surprising as very good answers were just beginning to come in (see for example the answer by @user1271772). The closure of the question was unwarranted. I respectfully request moderator intervention and the reopening of the question. $\endgroup$
    – Max
    Sep 4, 2023 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ @glS I edited my question addressing your concern and adding more details. $\endgroup$
    – Max
    Sep 4, 2023 at 21:56

1 Answer 1

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Introduction

Similar to this answer, I will say that quantum computers that are capable of doing calculations that are industry-relevant, do not yet exist (and probably won't exist for at least a couple more decades).

Until then, the answer to the question below is "no", or the word "real" needs to be changed to "theoretical":

"Are there any engineering problems that quantum computing can solve/simulate and demonstrate a real advantage over conventional computing?"

In theory, if a quantum computer could be built with a low enough error-rate, and with enough qubits, and a suitable enough gate-set, then they could be used for calculating energies (and other properties) of molecules, materials and other types of matter (i.e. matter modeling), including the battery design suggestion that was made in one of the comments.

A real engineering example

A real example of a difficult problem for classical computers, is the calculation of the energies of the iron-molybdenum complex (FeMoco), which is the active site of the nitrogenase enzyme, which is able to make ammonia from N2 and H2. Currently this reaction is accomplished by the Haber-Bosch process, which consumes 1-2% of the world's energy supply because it has to be done at 300–500°C and 60-180 atm pressure, and because it produces the fertilizers that are used by farmers that feed something like 80% of the world's population. The nitrogenase enzyme exists in nitrogen-fixing bacteria that accomplish the nitrogen-fixing task at basically room temperature and ambient pressure, so if we could figure out how that enzyme works, then we may be able to get it to work on a larger industrial scale (i.e. chemical engineering). It has been estimated that a quantum computer would need millions of qubits to solve just one small part of this problem after including the qubits used in error correcting codes, the best attempts using classical computers have used trillions of classical bits and haven't made much progress either.

For a quantum computer to have a "real" advantage over classical computers for a problem like this (or probably for any problem associated with simulating molecules or materials), not only would we need millions of qubits, but the error rates would have to go down by a lot. It's not going to happen any time soon, and by soon I mean decades. Another related thread on this site is this one: Is quantum computing just pie in the sky?

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  • $\begingroup$ some comments were removed (and some others were self-removed by the author). Please let's refrain from questioning the expertise of person X or Y in topics Z or W; it is not very constructive, and unnecessary. $\endgroup$
    – glS
    Sep 6, 2023 at 0:26
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    $\begingroup$ @glS I believe that you have been over-moderating this thread, and that it has been uncalled for. I request for you to stop. $\endgroup$ Sep 6, 2023 at 0:50
  • $\begingroup$ yes, I have been doing it, because for some reason this question seems to keep generating long discussions, "unkindness", and then flags for moderator intervention. If people would manage to have a sober scientific discussion without bickering, I wouldn't need to jump into it to clean stuff up. $\endgroup$
    – glS
    Sep 6, 2023 at 0:57
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you @user1271772 for your answer. I find your comments also in quantumcomputing.stackexchange.com/questions/34011/… quite useful. I am still hoping that the community votes and the question reopens so we get more answers. $\endgroup$
    – Max
    Sep 7, 2023 at 0:16

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