Quantum Computer Science on the Internet

July 31, 2004

A simulated quantum computer went online on the Internet last month. With the ability to control 31 quantum bits, it is the most powerful of its type in the world. Software engineers can use it to test algorithms that might one day be applied in real computer networks.

Many computing problems in fundamental physics or mathematics require huge amounts of processing power – far more than present-day computers are capable of providing. A well-known example is the prime factoring of very large numbers: Computer scientists use this technique to measure computer performance, and apply them for advanced encryption systems. Quantum computers, based on the laws of quantum physics, would be much more efficient at solving such complex problems than today’s “ordinary” computers. Unlike classical binary digits (0 or 1), their smallest units of information can assume any value between 0 and 1. This could permit massively parallel computation and multiplies storage capacity by a factor of many billions.

But quantum computers are still at a very early stage of development. The hardware requirements are extremely demanding and the few existing quantum computing devices only have a limited processing capacity of at best 7 qubits (27 = 128 bits processing size).

Since mid-June, a research group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Architecture and Software Technology FIRST has been offering Internet access to the world’s most powerful (31 qubit) quantum simulator, at www.qc.fraunhofer.de. Using a standard browser, interested parties in research and industry can see how quantum waves and atomic particles are used to process information, and thus gain a better understanding of how quantum processes work. The demonstration area of the site contains examples of several standard problems. Users can set up their own new algorithms and logical operations after registering online (free of charge). The simulator demonstrates the way in which a quantum computer would go about solving the calculation. Is the newly developed algorithm suitable for quantum computing, and does it achieve the desired result?

“The main focus of our project lies in the simulation of Hamiltonians, i.e. the experimental implementation of quantum algorithms,” emphasizes Helge Rosé. “This will give us a better understanding of the differences between real and theoretically ideal quantum computing devices.” It is also a means of gathering knowledge that will later be needed to build real quantum computers. “Members of the quantum computing community have no need to wait for the next generation of quantum computers – they can test their developments and ideas today,” the project manager concludes.

Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Explore further: How to cut your lawn for grasshoppers

Related Stories

How to cut your lawn for grasshoppers

November 22, 2017

Picture a grasshopper landing randomly on a lawn of fixed area. If it then jumps a certain distance in a random direction, what shape should the lawn be to maximise the chance that the grasshopper stays on the lawn after ...

The microscopic origin of efficiency droop in LEDs

November 21, 2017

Light-emitting diodes—or LEDs, as they are commonly known—have been slowly replacing incandescent light bulbs in applications ranging from car taillights to indicators on electronics since their invention in the 1960s.

Topological insulators—one glimpse is enough

November 21, 2017

The Nobel Prize for physics in 2016 was awarded for the theory of topological matter. Topological insulators are new materials with special electronic properties and are of great fundamental and applications-oriented interest. ...

Researcher sketches a path toward quantum computing

November 16, 2017

As new devices move quantum computing closer to practical use, the journal Nature recently asked Princeton computer scientist Margaret Martonosi and two colleagues to assess the state of software needed to exploit this powerful ...

Simple is beautiful in quantum computing

November 15, 2017

Quantum computing could solve problems impossible for today's supercomputers. The challenge for this new form of computing is processing the quantum bits (qubits) that represent data. A qubit can be made by controlling the ...

Recommended for you

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.