Computation Takes a Quantum Leap
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Ivars Peterson  Science News Online  
A quantum computation involving a custombuilt molecule furnishes experimental evidence that a quantum computer can determine the order of a permutation more efficiently than can a conventional computer. For their quantum computer, Isaac L. Chuang of the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif. and his team designed a molecule in which the nuclei of five fluorine atoms interact with each other to produce a fivequbit system (SN: 1/18/97, p. 37). The researchers report that they used radio pulses to "program" the nuclei into specific quantum states. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) instruments could then detect the results. The investigators tackled a permutation problem. Roughly speaking, computing the order of a permutation is akin to finding the shortest path through a hidden maze of rooms, each with precisely one exit and one entrance, connected by oneway passages. The goal is to get back to the starting point most quickly.  


Levels:  High School (912), College 
Languages:  English 
Resource Types:  Articles 
Math Topics:  Quantum Theory 
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