Adding freedom makes quantum-computer control tighter, simpler

Circuits to dumb down the quantum bits is gumming up development

Research I wrote about earlier may make the whole idea of quantum computing a lot less attractive (they will be able to lie), but researchers in England and Australia have developed ways to make the chips work that's a lot less complicated and less expensive than before.

The core difference between quantum and regular computers is that, rather than using a "standard" bit that can be either a 1 or a 0, quantum computers use a bit of quantum information called a qubit that can exist in several states at the same time, multiplying the amount of information that can be transmitted in a "bit," and with it the potential power of a quantum computer.

Unfortunately, the circuits required to run quantum bits are so complex, the hardware has to dumb down the stream of quantum bits into a stream that can be controlled and used to process data.

Even the circuits that decompose the qubit flow into a logic gate set is so complex in itself that it has made construction of any kind of quantum processor impossible.

They did it by reducing the amount of control over individual bits, giving qubits a greater degree of freedom on the way to the logic gate.

"The new approach we report here could be the most important development in quantum information science over the coming years," according to researcher Jeremy O'Brien, director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics. "It provides a dramatic reduction in quantum circuit complexity -- the major barrier to the development of more sophisticated quantum algorithms -- just at the time that the first quantum algorithms are being demonstrated."

Even if the breakthrough makes work on quantum computing faster and more efficient, most researchers estimate it will still be at least five to ten years before the first one hits the market.

In the meantime we can only hope to have overcome this problem with pretending to know more about the question a human is asking than the quantum computer really does.

It's bad enough to be so uncertain no one can tell if you've booted up or not as long as they don't lift the lid on the box, it's no good adding more insecurity on top of that.

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