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Quantum Rewrites the Rules of Computing

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The D-Wave system with the 512 qubit chip is being tested by NASA and Google.

Even those developing quantum computers say they cannot explain how they work.

Credit: D-Wave Systems Inc.

Quantum computers are rewriting the rules of how computing works, but even the people developing them say they cannot explain how they work.

Traditional computers use bits for processing instructions, and they work based on a series of instructions. However, a quantum computer combines computing with quantum mechanics. Each bit, or qubit, in a quantum machine can be both a 1 and a 0.

When a qubit is constructed, it is built so the user does not know if it is a 1 or a 0 because it has the possibility of being both. It is not known what qubits are until they begin to interact, or entangle, with other qubits. Based on these entanglements, they become a 1 or a 0. However, just because a qubit acted as a 0 during one calculation, does not mean it will act as a 0 during the next calculation. This is the basis for quantum computing. The qubits communicate with each other and calculate all the different possibilities at the same time.

"These are such complex systems they can't be modeled by all the computers in the world put together," says D-Wave Systems CEO Vern Brownell. "They will never be completely provable."

From Computerworld
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