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Instead of representing a 1 or a 0, like a conventional digital computer bit, a qubit can be a little bit of both.

This affords a degree of flexibility that gives quantum computers the ability to take shortcuts and vastly speed up the rate at which certain kinds of calculations can be performed. Potential applications of the technology range from encryption and searches of big data to drug discovery, materials research and machine learning.

The problem is that maintaining a computer in a quantum state long enough to perform useful calculations is notoriously difficult and gets harder as the number of qubits grows. A way to quantify this is to measure the growing rate at which a quantum system tends to make errors as more qubits are added.

To combat this, quantum computers typically employ many times more qubits for error correction than for the original calculation. Google is among the players currently working on quantum computing hardware and in March the company unveiled a qubit chip.

While still far from superseding a conventional computer, the development is regarded by the industry as a milestone on the road toward a practical quantum computer.

Other players include IBM, which already has a qubit quantum computer that software developers can access on the cloud. Google is moving in a similar direction, and has made its hardware available to a limited number of partners with plans to expand access in the future, said Mr. As a precursor, Google has released a quantum framework called Cirq for developers to work with.

The Quantum Benchmark toolkit is being made available as a part of Cirq, but the relationship is not exclusive. The product Quantum Benchmark is putting on the market is aimed at the more universal form of quantum computer that can hop between fleeting quantum states and whose emergence at a commercial scale remains a long-term objective of the industry. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way.

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