Introduction |
The history of computer technology has involved a sequence of changes from gears to relays to valves to transistors to integrated circuits and so on. Today's techniques can fit logic gates and wires a fraction of a micron wide onto a silicon chip. Soon the parts will become smaller and smaller until they are made up of only a handful of atoms. At this point the laws of classical physics break down and the rules of quantum mechanics take over, so the new quantum technology must replace and/or supplement what we presently have. It will support an entirely new kind of computation with new algorithms based on quantum principles.
Presently our digital computers rely on bits, which, when charged, represent on, true, or 1. When not charged they become off, false, or 0. A register of 3 bits can represent at a given moment in time one of eight numbers (000,001,010,...,111). In the quantum state, an atom (one bit) can be in two places at once according to the laws of quantum physics, so 3 atoms (quantum bits or
This all sounds like another purely technological process. Classical computers can do the same computations as quantum computers, only needing more time and more memory. The catch is that they need Quantum computers can be programed in a qualitatively new way using new algorithms. For example, we can construct new algorithms for solving problems, some of which can turn difficult mathematical problems, such as factorization, into easy ones. The difficulty of factorization of large numbers is the basis for the security of many common methods of encryption. RSA, the most popular public key cryptosystem used to protect electronic bank accounts gets its security from the difficulty of factoring very large numbers. This was one of the first potential uses for a quantum computer. "Experimental and theoretical research in quantum computation is accelerating world-wide. New technologies for realising quantum computers are being proposed, and new types of quantum computation with various advantages over classical computation are continually being discovered and analysed and we believe some of them will bear technological fruit. From a fundamental standpoint, however, it does not matter how useful quantum computation turns out to be, nor does it matter whether we build the first quantum computer tomorrow, next year or centuries from now. The quantum theory of computation must in any case be an integral part of the world view of anyone who seeks a fundamental understanding of the quantum theory and the processing of information." ( Center for Quantum Computation)
In 1995 there was a $100 bet made to create the impossible within 16 years, the world's first nanometer supercomputer. This resulted in the NanoComputer Dream Team, and utilizes the internet to gather talent from every scientific field and from all over the world, amateur and professional. Their deadline:
Valerie Brownrigg Telecommunications Class Santa Rosa Junior College Section 5294 Spring 2000 |