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Quantum Effects GraphicQuantum Information
(http://hissa.nist.gov/~black/Quantum/)
Dr. Paul E. Black (paul.black@nist.gov)

 

Overview: In collaboration with the NIST Physics Laboratory, this project develops information representations and computing machines that take advantage of quantum effects, such as, superposition and entanglement, which could enable exponential computational work to be done in one operation.

As a discipline, Quantum Information has been a joint effort of Physicists and Computer Scientists for some time. Computer Scientists contribute their knowledge in the areas of Computation Theory, Automata Theory, and Abstract Algebra, as well as, other theoretical areas in Computer Science. For example, in 1996, Lou Grover, Computer Scientist at AT&T's Bell Labs, discovered a quantum algorithm that searches an unsorted list of N items in only square root of N steps. In 1994, Peter Shor, Computer Scientist and Mathematician discovered a quantum algorithm that efficiently factors large numbers

Industry Need Addressed: The goal of Quantum Information is to develop information representations and computing machines that take advantage of quantum effects, such as, superposition which could enable exponential computational work to be done in one operation. In the long term, Quantum Information promises computing machines of unprecedented computational power and small size.

NIST/ITL Approach: Dr. Black and his associates regularly attend the weekly Physics Lab Quantum Computing seminars. They are developing Quantum Compiling and Simulation techniques and software.

ITL is participating with Dr. Carl Williams of the Physics Lab to develop proposals. One ITL objective is the optimization of fault-tolerant computational algorithms for real-world quantum architectures, in particular those being developed within the PL. As described above, in order to make quantum computing practical, tailored approaches to optimization and fault tolerance are needed. Proposed quantum error correction schemes must be tailored for the types of faults actually encountered. ITL will devise methods for applying fault tolerance, incorporating error correction schemes, assigning variable states and locations, and scheduling computations that can be applied to the quantum computing architecture being developed within the PL.

Another ITL objective is the exploration of authentication protocols relying on fundamental physical laws for security. Quantum mechanics also allows for vast improvements in communications cryptography that are not possible using conventional electronics. ITL will explore new authentication protocols that take advantage of quantum properties, and, if feasible, will attempt to implement them with the single photon methods being developed in the PL. This implementation will provide valuable experience in the practical aspects of this important new communications technology, and may lead to commercial products. Experience gained will help ITL be ready as quantum cryptography products enter the marketplace.

Impact: Dr. Black was invited to present the Basic Concepts in the Theory of Computation to NIST Physicists. Dr. Black and Dr. Alan Migdall of the Physics Lab have been awarded ATP Intramural funding. Dr. Black, Rick Kuhn, and Dr. Williams received an Outstanding Author for their introductory Quantum Computing and Communications. ITL and the Physics Lab have received DARPA funding.