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A quantum computer is a device for computation that makes direct use of quantum mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform operations on data. Quantum computers are different from traditional computers based on transistors. The basic principle behind quantum computation is that quantum properties can be used to represent data and perform operations on these data.^{[1]} A theoretical model is the quantum Turing machine, also known as the universal quantum computer.
Although quantum computing is still in its infancy, experiments have been carried out in which quantum computational operations were executed on a very small number of qubits (quantum bit). Both practical and theoretical research continues, and many national government and military funding agencies support quantum computing research to develop quantum computers for both civilian and national security purposes, such as cryptanalysis.^{[2]}
If largescale quantum computers can be built, they will be able to solve certain problems much faster than any current classical computers (for example Shor's algorithm). Quantum computers do not allow the computation of functions that are not theoretically computable by classical computers, i.e. they do not alter the Churchâ€“Turing thesis. The gain is only in efficiency.
Contents
Basis
A classical computer has a memory made up of bits, where each bit represents either a one or a zero. A quantum computer maintains a sequence of qubits. A single qubit can represent a one, a zero, or, crucially, any quantum superposition of these; moreover, a pair of qubits can be in any quantum superposition of 4 states, and three qubits in any superposition of 8. In general a quantum computer with n qubits can be in an arbitrary superposition of up to 2^{n} different states simultaneously (this compares to a normal computer that can only be in one of these 2^{n} states at any one time). A quantum computer operates by manipulating those qubits with a fixed sequence of quantum logic gates. The sequence of gates to be applied is called a quantum algorithm.
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