Quantum Computers

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 20:47:06 -0800 (PST)


The possibility that a Quantum Computer might be built in the foreseeable
future has even started to seep into the mainstream press, there is an
article about them in today's (Feb. 18 1997) New York Times. There are no
new facts the article, but it does contain several quotations I have not seen
before that express the air of enthusiasm and optimism currently in the field.

Dr. Raymond Laflamme at the Los Alamos Laboratory says:

"Just a few years ago it was thought that a Quantum Computer was impossible.
Now we have passes some big stumbling blocks. The possibilities are very

Dr. Seth Lloyd at MIT says:

"Although large hurdles lie ahead, Quantum Computers are coming tantalizingly
close to being something that might work".

I thought the most interesting quote came from Rolf W Landauer at IBM.
Dr. Landauer was probably the most vocal critic of the entire idea of a
Quantum Computer, and he makes it clear that he is still not convinced that
such a machine will ever be practical. He does admit however that in late
1995 when Dr. Peter Shor of ATT proved that Quantum Error correction was not
impossible after all and actually produced such a scheme, and when a few
months later Dr. Wojciech Zurek at Los Alamos considerably improved it:

"Nobody was more surprised than I was. I had been too pessimistic, it's
just that simple".

To remind you of the stakes that are involved, a 2000 cubit Quantum Computer
would be far more powerful than a Nano computer made with all the matter in
the observable universe.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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