Browse Definitions :
Definition

quantum computer

A quantum computer is a machine, as-yet hypothetical, that performs calculations based on the behavior of particles at the sub-atomic level. Such a computer will be, if it is ever developed, capable of executing far more millions of instructions per second (MIPS) than any previous computer. Such an exponential advance in processing capability would be due to the fact that the data units in a quantum computer, unlike those in a binary computer, can exist in more than one state at a time. In a sense, the machine "thinks" several "thoughts" simultaneously, each "thought" being independent of the others even though they all arise from the same set of particles.

Engineers have coined the term qubit (pronounced KYEW-bit) to denote the fundamental data unit in a quantum computer. A qubit is essentially a bit (binary digit) that can take on several, or many, values simultaneously. The theory behind this is as bizarre as the theory of quantum mechanics, in which individual particles appear to exist in multiple locations. One way to think of how a qubit can exist in multiple states is to imagine it as having two or more aspects or dimensions, each of which can be high (logic 1) or low (logic 0). Thus if a qubit has two aspects, it can have four simultaneous, independent states (00, 01, 10, and 11); if it has three aspects, there are eight possible states, binary 000 through 111, and so on.

Quantum computers might prove especially useful in the following applications:

  • Breaking ciphers
  • Statistical analysis
  • Factoring large numbers
  • Solving problems in theoretical physics
  • Solving optimization problems in many variables

The main difficulty that the research-and-development engineers have encountered is the fact that it is extremely difficult to get particles to behave in the proper way for a significant length of time. The slightest disturbance will cause the machine to cease working in quantum fashion and revert to "single-thought" mode like a conventional computer. Stray electromagnetic fields, physical movement, or a tiny electrical discharge can disrupt the process.

This was last updated in June 2010

Continue Reading About quantum computer

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • risk management

    Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization's capital and earnings.

  • compliance framework

    A compliance framework is a structured set of guidelines that details an organization's processes for maintaining accordance with...

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

SearchSecurity

  • DNS over HTTPS (DoH)

    DNS over HTTPS (DoH) is a relatively new protocol that encrypts domain name system traffic by passing DNS queries through a ...

  • integrated risk management (IRM)

    Integrated risk management (IRM) is an approach to risk management that uses a set of practices and processes to improve an ...

  • MITRE ATT&CK framework

    The MITRE ATT&CK (pronounced 'miter attack') framework is a free, globally accessible service that provides comprehensive and ...

SearchHealthIT

  • telemedicine (telehealth)

    Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the ...

  • Project Nightingale

    Project Nightingale is a controversial partnership between Google and Ascension, the second largest health system in the United ...

  • medical practice management (MPM) software

    Medical practice management (MPM) software is a collection of computerized services used by healthcare professionals and ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

SearchStorage

  • M.2 SSD

    An M.2 SSD is a solid-state drive (SSD) that conforms to a computer industry specification and is used in internally mounted ...

  • kilobyte (KB or Kbyte)

    A kilobyte (KB or Kbyte) is a unit of measurement for computer memory or data storage used by mathematics and computer science ...

  • virtual memory

    Virtual memory is a memory management capability of an operating system (OS) that uses hardware and software to allow a computer ...

Close