Recently, Canada's Prime Minister - Justin Trudeau - gave an impromptu explanation of Quantum Computing, much to the crowd's astonishment. I certainly thought that I "got" Quantum Computing a little bit more, even though it was a simplified explanation.

Here's the YouTube link to the actual press conference.


However, some are claiming that we shouldn't jump for joy at his explanation.

I'm wondering, as someone who doesn't exactly understand Quantum Computing, how accurate was Justin Trudeau's explanation of Quantum Computing?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ skeptics.stackexchange.com/q/32539 ​ ​ $\endgroup$ – user12859 Apr 19 '16 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ What is your proposed unit of measurement for "accurate"? $\endgroup$ – Raphael Apr 20 '16 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ @RickyDemer Interesting, didn't think to look there first. $\endgroup$ – Möoz Apr 20 '16 at 0:55
  • $\begingroup$ Accuracy vs precision shows that with arbitrary precision - yes, he was accurate, the topic of his speech matches the topic given. $\endgroup$ – Evil Apr 20 '16 at 3:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Mooz : ​ I also wouldn't have thought to look there, but had previously gone to that after seeing it on Hot Network Questions. ​ ​ ​ ​ $\endgroup$ – user12859 Apr 20 '16 at 3:17

Trudeau's explanation wasn't wrong, but it also wasn't very informative.

Scott Aaronson, a well-known quantum computational complexity theorist, made a blog post discussing it:

What marks does Trudeau get for this? [...] Trudeau doesn’t really assert much here: basically, he just says that normal computers work using 1’s and 0’s, and that quantum computers are more complicated than that in some hard-to-explain way. [...]

[...] I’d grade Trudeau’s explanation as substantially more accurate than what you’d get from a typical popular article. [...] clearly suggests that he knows it’s more subtle than just “0 and 1 at the same time,” and he also knows that he doesn’t really get it and that the journalists in the audience don’t either. [...]

[Grade: B+].

There's a lot of discussion in the comments of that post.


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