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Quantum Computers Will Require Complex Software to Manage Errors


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National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) theorists have demonstrated that a type of software operation, believed to be a solution to the fundamental problems with computer hardware, will not function as originally hoped, adding additional complexity to the development of quantum computers. If quantum computers are ever realized, they will use effects associated with atomic physics to solve enormously complicated problems. Prototype quantum processors have proven to be prone to errors caused by noise from stray electric or magnetic fields.

To make error correction more efficient, researchers are designing quantum computing architectures to limit errors, including creating software that does not permit qubits to interact if their errors could compound one another. Quantum software with this property is called "transversal encoded quantum gates." However, the NIST team has proven that this software, which is heavily studied due to its simplicity and robustness against interfering noise, is insufficient for performing arbitrary computations, meaning any software that quantum computers use will have to be far more complicated and resource-intensive to ensure devices work properly. The NIST researchers mathematically proved that transversal gates cannot be used exclusively and that more complex solutions for error management and correction need to be found and deployed.

From National Institute of Standards and Technology
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