Computing takes a quantum leap

June 19, 1998

QUANTUM mechanics could take computing where no computer has gone before, according to a University of Plymouth professor.

Richard Jozsa said that the application of quantum physics could lead to a new generation of supercomputers whose number-crunching powers will dwarf the machines of today.

With such greater speed and capacity, quantum computers could revolutionise data processing and vastly improve security. The banking industry and the military are already showing an interest.

Professor Jozsa, who has just been awarded a five-year research fellowship by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, said: "It would take longer than the age of the universe to factorise a 2,000-digit figure using all the computers in the world today. A quantum computer could do the same job in days or hours." Factorising numbers is used in information encryption systems.

Quantum computers would focus on the relative frequencies of individual atoms. By controlling these minute variations calculations can be performed.

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