Sunday, February 2, 2014

Quantum Computing for Beginners

quantum, physics, Charlene Brown
An Exaltation of Qubits
Watercolour, crayon and Photoshop™
©2014 Charlene Brown

Exaltation is my favourite collective noun. Though only properly used for larks, as far as I know, this arrangement of quantum bits, or qubits, seemed to warrant it… BTW, the arrangement, with X-axes converging dramatically, has nothing to do with how quantum computing works – it just made a nice composition.

Quantum computing is immensely powerful, or will be when someone gets some qubits to stand still long enough, because qubits can store and process practically infinite amounts of information… A classical bit can either be a 0 or a 1, a qubit is any possible combination or superposition of ket 0 and ket 1, the bra-ket notation used for describing quantum states, with complex numbers as coefficients of the superposition. Thus, a qubit in a quantum computer is represented as any point on the surface of a 3D sphere, the Bloch Sphere. Not only can each qubit be in such a superposition state, but the system as a whole can be in a superposition of every combination of different states of all the qubits. The number of possible states that can be present in the superposition is huge – N qubits would have 2N possible states. The qubits in the picture are shown with a random array of some of the simpler Bloch Sphere states, including ket 0 (top, left) and ket 1 (bottom left) and various points on the X, Y or Z axes.