Toward Control of Large-Scale Quantum Computing

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Science  07 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6052, pp. 50-51
DOI: 10.1126/science.1211284

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During the past decade, a wide array of physical systems—atoms, semiconductors, and superconductors—have been used in experiments to create the basic components of quantum-information processing. Precision control over elementary quantum two-state systems (qubits) is now well advanced, and it is now possible to ask how a complete, functioning quantum computer with many qubits would really work. In this issue, two very different steps in this direction have been taken. On page 61, Mariantoni et al. (1) examine how the basic architectural elements of a stored-program computer, as articulated originally by von Neumann, can be achieved in the quantum setting. On page 57, Lanyon et al. (2) explore how a quantum computer can be programmed. Although the physical qubits used in each study are extremely different, both attack a device-independent question of system functionality.