Space and Time Could Be a Quantum Error-Correcting Code


In 1994, a mathematician at AT&T Research named Peter Shor brought instant fame to "quantum computers" when he discovered that these hypothetical devices could quickly factor large numbers -- and thus break much of modern cryptography. But a fundamental problem stood in the way of actually building quantum computers: the innate frailty of their physical components. Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Unlike binary bits of information in ordinary computers, "qubits" consist of quantum particles that have some probability of being in each of two states, designated 0⟩ and 1⟩, at the same time. When qubits interact, their possible states become interdependent, each one's chances of 0⟩ and 1⟩ hinging on those of the other.

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