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It appears that quantum computers are one step closer to reaching their potential. A recent development promises to correct errors in calculation done by these advanced machines.
According to Cnet.com, a Colorado-based team improved its handling of qubits, the machines’ fundamental data storage and processing elements. Last year, they linked multiple ordinary qubits into a group called a logical qubit that’s more reliable. This year, they got a pair of logical qubits to perform calculations, said David Hayes, leader of the theory group. The work was notable because the system’s error correction technology keeps logical qubits stable longer than conventional qubits, and that’s key to coaxing useful work out of quantum computers.
Qubits are individual atoms or other elements tiny enough to be dominated by the weird rules of quantum physics. It’s those rules that could help quantum computers solve problems that are beyond classical computers. One problem with quantum computers is that qubits are hard to control and easily perturbed, derailing calculations. Logical qubits offer a mechanism to stabilize the situation. Some qubits in the logical qubit flock are used for the data processing while others are used to interact with an ordinary outside computer. That conventional machine oversees the operation by monitoring the logical qubit’s state, checking for errors, and shepherding any errant qubits back into the fold. This new system repeats those error correction steps about five times a second.
The new achievement could eventually lead to developments that allow quantum computers to crack encryption, design more efficient solar panels and meet other promises of the complex machines. Such potential will likely encourage companies, governments and universities to continue investing in the technology though realizing its potential remains years away.
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