MadSci Network: Computer Science

Re: What are the advantges of quantum computing?

Date: Fri Feb 16 12:16:17 2001
Posted By: Xiao Chen, Staff, Academic Technology Services, ATS UCLA
Area of science: Computer Science
ID: 981659302.Cs

It may not be a bad idea to start by thinking about the limitations of 
conventional computers. Conventional computers are based on  semiconductors. 
They are electronic and computing programs are stored. No matter how hard people 
try to produce more powerful microchips, there is a limitation simply because of 
physical laws. 

Simply speaking, among the advantages of quantum computing that people 
believe quantum computers could have over the conventional computers is the 
phenomenon of quantum parallelism. As will be discussed in some detail in the 
links below, computing can be done in parallel with a quantum computer and an 
algorithm making use of  a quantum computer's parallelism. For example, an 
algorithm has been developed by Peter Shor of AT&T Bell laboratories to tackle 
the problem of factoring large numbers into their prime factors. This problem 
has been considered to be part of a class of problems defined as " HARD " and is 
in the heart of the mostly commonly used encryption schemes. Shor's algorithm 
takes advantage of quantum parallelism to give the results of the prime 
factorisation problem in a matter of seconds whereas a conventional computer 
would take, in some cases, more than the age of the universe to produce a 

There are some very good articles about quantum computers in fairly plain 
English. Here are some of them.

1. Quantum Computing with Molecules by N. Gershenfeld and I.L. Chuang

2. When Silicon Hits Its Limits, What's Next?    ..

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