Quantum Computing

This Seminar Topic deals with the following:

Imagine a computer whose memory is exponentially larger than its apparent physical size; a computer that can manipulate an exponential set of inputs simultaneously; a computer that computes in the twilight zone of Hilbert space. You would be thinking of a quantum computer. Relatively few and simple concepts from quantum mechanics are needed to make quantum computers a possibility. The subtlety has been in learning to manipulate these concepts. Is such a computer an inevitability or will it is too difficult to build?

The subject of quantum computing brings together ideas from classical information theory, computer science, and quantum physics. This review aims to summarize not just quantum computing, but the whole subject of quantum information theory. It turns out that information theory and quantum mechanics fit together very well. In order to explain their relationship, the review begins with an introduction to classical information theory and computer science, including Shannon’s theorem, error correcting codes, Turing machines and computational complexity. The principles of quantum mechanics are then outlined, and the EPR experiment described. The EPR-Bell correlations and quantum entanglement in general, form the essential new ingredient which distinguishes quantum from classical information theory, and, arguably, quantum from classical physics. Basic quantum information ideas are described, including key distribution, teleportation, data compression, quantum error correction, the universal quantum computer and quantum algorithms. The common theme of all these ideas is the use of quantum entanglement as a computational resource. Experimental methods for small quantum processors are briefly sketched, concentrating on ion traps, high Q cavities, and NMR. The review concludes with an outline of the main features of quantum information physics, and avenues for future research.

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