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Quantum Computing

Umair Darr
February 15, 2018

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1 What is quantum computing?
Quantum computing is an approach to computing that takes advantage of cer-
tain properties of the quantum world. These are wildly different to classical
computers which use binary bits and are based on transistors. This requires
data to be in either one of two states - 0 and 1.
More specifically the concept that quantum computing relies on is the princi-
ple of quantum superposition. This is similar and to the phenomenon in classical
mechanics, where waves can superpose on each other. Quantum superposition
occurs when two states can be added (superposed) to each other to provide
another quantum state.
In the case of quantum computing, we can combine the states of 0 and 1 (called
basis states) to create another state, a superposition of 0 and 1. However, once
we measure/observe our quantum state , it ’collapses’ into either one of the
basis states. Another feature of quantum mechanics that is useful is quantum
entanglement. These pieces of data are called quantum bits or qubits for short.
There has been a lot of practical research in this field, as many companies
such as IBM and Microsoft have built their own computers.

2 Qubits
As qubits represent a superpostion of two states, this can allow us to perform
computations that we couldn’t do with a classical computer. For example , lets
say we have a pair of qubits that could either be in the state 0 or 1.
This means that we have 4 possible states that the pair could be in :
00, 01, 10, 11
0 1 2 3
which correspond to different integer values. In this case we can associate dif-
ferent probabilities to different states that the qubits can be in. These qubits
are in a superposition of two states, namely 0 and 1. We can represent these
states with vectors.

0 = |0i
1 = |1i

We can represent a qubit state as a combination of the basis states , similar to


how we represent position vectors as a combination of the basis vectors i, j and
k.
|ψi = α |0i + β |1i

The values α and β represent the probability amplitude of what state the the
qubit is in. This means that we can calculate the probability that our qubit ψ
is in state |0i or |1i by calculating |α|2 and |β|2 respectively.

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There are many ways of representing a qubit state. One way is representation
described before using a linear combination of basis states. Another way is to
describe it using a diagram with the basis vectors |0i and |1i on each of the
axis, similar to how position vectors are represented using diagrams.
In this case , we know that |α|2 + |β|2 = 1 as the probabilites of the qubit being
in either state must sum to one.
We can calculate the length of our vector by using pythagoras’s theorem,
p √
|φ| = |α|2 + |β|2 = 1 = 1
This means that all of our qubit states can be represented by a circle in the
diagram.

3 Problems with Quantum Computing


There are many problems that we need to solve in quantum computing in order
to build a practical quantum computer. One technical challenge that needs to
be solved is the ability to scale the number of qubits that can be stored. Many
quantum computers have been built which use a small amount of bits, but in
order to build a useful quantum computer, the amount of bits need to increase.
Another complication is quantum decoherence, which requires us to isolate
our system from the environment to reduce the amount of interactions from
other sources. This is because at the very small scale, quantum effects take
place causing unwanted effects. A way of solving this problem us to cool the
qubits to almost absolute zero to prevent any effects from taking place.
There are also many physical ways of implenting a quantum computer. The
implementation that Google and IBM are using is a superconducting quantum
computer. This relies on the fact that electrons act differently when the are in
a material that is supercooled. This allows the charge flow to determine what
states are 0s or 1s.

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4 Computations using Quantum Computers
Computations are done similary in quantum systems as they are in classical
systems, as the both use logic gates in order to perform operations on data.
However, they are wildly different in For instance, in order to represent a byte
(8 bits) using a classical computer , we would need to store the values of 8 bits.
To represent a byte in a quantum computer , this would require 256 probability
amplitudes, as with 8 bits we can represent 256 values. This sequence of qubits
would be a combination of the 256 states that the qubit can be in. In general
in order to represent a n bit classical system using a quantum computer we
require 2n probabilty amplitudes, which is exponential more infromation that
the classical computer uses.//
Furthermore , another disadvantage is that due to the fact as that we are
doing computations with qubit states, the output of the system would also be a
qubit state. This means that this qubit also has certain probabilites associated
with it , meaning that once the qubit state is measured. For example , consider
the 2 qubit system.
√ √ √ √
|φi = 0.3 |00i + 0.4 |01i + 0.3 |10i + 0 |11i
We can calculate the probabilty of our qubit being in each of these states.

Probability of 00 = |√0.3|2 = 0.3 = 30%
Probability of 01 = |√0.4|2 = 0.4 = 40%
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Probability of 10 = | 0.3|
√ 2 = 0.4 = 30%
Probability of 11 = | 0| = 0 = 0%
We can perform an operation on this state, for example +01. This would convert
our state into another qubit state .
√ √ √ √
|φi = 0 |00i + 0.3 |01i + 0.4 |10i + 0 |11i
As we can see, we dont have a definite output in this system , as their is a
possibility our qubit state collapsing into one of its basis states.

5 Uses and effects of quantum computing


Quantum computing has uses in many different fields, an example of one is
cryptoanalysis. This aim of this field is to break cryptographic systems. Many
cryptographic systems rely on the fact that it is computationally inefficient to
factor large numbers. There are programs such as Shor’s algorithm which run
on quantum computers that can factor numbers very quickly. This means that
we need to develop new cryptographic systems which are quantum-resistant.
Another use of quantum computing is the simulation of quantum systems.
Quantum computers with a few hundred bits could beat the capabilites of su-
percomputers that are used nowadays to simulate these systems. This could
allow us to incerase our understanding of particle physics and increase our un-
derstanding of the universe.