Raymond Laflamme, Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo, Canada, and Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Canada
Advances in computing are revolutionizing our world. Present day computers advance at a rapid pace toward the barrier defined by the laws of quantum physics. The quantum computation program short-circuits that constraint by exploiting the quantum laws to advantage rather than regarding them as obstacles. Quantum computer accepts any superposition of its inputs as an input, and processes the components simultaneously, performing a sophisticated interference experiment of classical inputs. This "quantum parallelism'' allows one to explore exponentially many trial solutions with relatively modest means, and to select the correct one. This has a particularly dramatic effect on factoring of large integers, which is at the core of the present day encryption strategies (public key) used in diplomatic communication, and (increasingly) in business. As demonstrated approximately five years ago, quantum computers could yield the most commonly used encryption protocol obsolete. Since then, it was also realized that quantum computation can lead to breakthroughs elsewhere, including simulations of quantum systems, implementation of novel encryption strategies (quantum cryptography), as well as more mundane applications such as sorting. I will describe recent work done in quantum computation, in particular the discovery and implementation of methods to make quantum information robust against corruption, both in theory and experiments. I will end with speculations about the field.
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