Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Scott Aaronson and graduate student Alex Arkhipov will present a paper at ACM's upcoming 43rd Symposium on Theory of Computing that describes a yet-to-be-run experiment, which, if successful, would offer strong support for the power of quantum computers.
If the experiment works, "it has the potential to take us past what I would like to call the 'quantum singularity,' where we do the first thing quantumly that we can't do on a classical computer," says Imperial College London's Terry Rudolph.
The MIT researchers' proposal is an extension of a 1987 University of Rochester experiment that involved a beam splitter sending advancing photons in different directions. The Rochester researchers showed that if two identical photons reached the beam splitter at precisely the same time, they will go either left or right, but never take different paths.
The MIT experiment expands on the Rochester study by using larger numbers of photons, the distribution of which can be useful in reaching a feasible quantum system. However, calculating the photon distribution is an extremely hard problem, as is simulating it. "It's challenging, technologically, but not forbiddingly so," says the University of Calgary's Barry Sanders.
From MIT News
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