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New Form of Quantum Computation Promises Showdown With Ordinary Computers

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Four separate teams have taken a step toward achieving such 'quantum speed-up' by demonstrating a simpler, more limited form of quantum computing that, if it can be improved, might soon give classical computers a run for their money. But don't get your hopes up for a full-fledged quantum computer. The gizmos may not be good for much beyond one particular calculation... To make a universal quantum computer, scientists must also establish a weird quantum connection between qubits called 'entanglement,' in which measurement on one qubit determines the state of another. The best a rudimentary universal quantum computer has done is to factor the number 21 - hardly a task that will crash your personal computer... Calculating the possible outcomes requires a mathematical manipulation known as taking the 'permanent' of a matrix of numbers that depends on the detail of the maze.

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