Justin Trudeau Drops Quantum Computing Answer To Question About ISIS

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Just watch him... explain quantum computing?

That's what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did Friday at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ont., where the federal government will invest $50 million over five years.

Trudeau was responding to a reporter, who made a joke about asking the prime minister to break down quantum computing before asking a real question on Canada's ISIS mission. (Watch the video above.)

trudeau
Trudeau walks on stage to make an announcement at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont. on April 15, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

"I was going to ask you to explain quantum computing but.. when do you expect Canada's ISIL mission to begin again, and are we not doing anything in the interim while we prepare?" said Colin Perkel from The Canadian Press.

Trudeau called his bluff.

"OK. Very simple, normal computers work by..." he said as the audience started cracking up.

"No, no, don't interrupt me. When you walk out of here, you will know more — no, some of you will know far less about quantum computing."

'Quite accurate'

"What quantum states allow for is much more complex information to be encoded into a single bit. Regular computer bit is either a one or a zero, on or off," said Trudeau.

"A quantum state could be much more complex than that, because, as we know, things could be both particle and wave at the same time, and the uncertainty around quantum states allows us to encode more information into a much smaller information. So that's what's exciting about quantum computing," he concluded, before the audience gave him a standing ovation.

(via Perimeter Institute)

So, was Trudeau's explanation full of bit?

Martin Laforest, a quantum computing expert at the University of Waterloo, told The Huffington Post Canada Trudeau's explanation was "quite accurate" given that he "learned about quantum computing this morning."

The University of Waterloo's quantum computing institute has a handy explainer. Here are some excerpts from the centre for your learning pleasure:

"A traditional computer uses long strings of “bits,” which encode either a zero or a one. A quantum computer, on the other hand, uses quantum bits, or qubits."

"Think of it this way: whereas a classical computer works with ones and zeros, a quantum computer will have the advantage of using ones, zeros and “superpositions” of ones and zeros. Certain difficult tasks that have long been thought impossible (or “intractable”) for classical computers will be achieved quickly and efficiently by a quantum computer."

Trudeau says the funding will help the Perimeter Institute continue its scientific research, training, and education outreach. He called the centre an example of Canada's stature in innovation and research.

The work researchers are doing, Trudeau says, will lead to the technological discoveries of tomorrow that will contribute in tangible ways to our understanding of the universe.

The prime minister did go on to answer questions about the Islamic State and the Supreme Court ruling on Metis rights.

With files from The Canadian Press

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