Quantum Computation

Science  13 Oct 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5234, pp. 255-261
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5234.255


If the bits of computers are someday scaled down to the size of individual atoms, quantum mechanical effects may profoundly change the nature of computation itself. The wave function of such a quantum computer could consist of a superposition of many computations carried out simultaneously; this kind of parallelism could be exploited to make some important computational problems, like the prime factoring of large integers, tractable. However, building such a quantum computer would place undreamed of demands on the experimental realization of highly quantum-coherent systems; present-day experimental capabilities in atomic physics and other fields permit only the most rudimentary implementation of quantum computation.