Quantum computing using continuous-time evolution: continuous-time quantum computing

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Computational methods are the most effective tools we have besides scientific experiments to explore the properties of complex biological systems. Progress is slowing because digital silicon computers have reached their limits in terms of speed. Other types of computation using radically different architectures, including neuromorphic and quantum, promise breakthroughs in both speed and efficiency. Quantum computing exploits the coherence and superposition properties of quantum systems to explore many possible computational paths in parallel. This provides a fundamentally more efficient route to solving some types of computational problems, including several of relevance to biological simulations. In particular, optimization problems, both convex and non-convex, feature in many biological models, including protein folding and molecular dynamics. Early quantum computers will be small, reminiscent of the early days of digital silicon computing. Understanding how to exploit the first generation of quantum hardware is crucial for making progress in both biological simulation and the development of the next generations of quantum computers. This review outlines the current state-of-the-art and future prospects for quantum computing, and provides some indications of how and where to apply it to speed up bottlenecks in biological simulation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20190143
Number of pages9
JournalInterface Focus
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2020


  • quantum computing
  • quantum optimization
  • quantum simulation


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