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How long do we need to wait for Quantum Computers?

  1. Jun 8, 2013 #1
    I was thinking whether I should put this threat under general physics or engineering... but anyway, here's the problem: how long do we need to wait until quantum computing is put to use?

    Also, can programmes that run on classical computers run on quantum computers, or do they need an entirely new programming strategy?

    I am quite concerned about the possibility of it being used for scientific modeling (within my years of living lol).
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 8, 2013 #2
    The wait is basically over if your research involves factoring 21.

    Quantum computers are still in the infancy stage compared to classical computers.
  4. Jun 9, 2013 #3
    There is a company called D-Wave that makes a commercially available quantum computer. I think its development included one of the space technology companies. It works on the adiabetic method, but there is plenty of controversy over its design and operation. I think Google might have one. Anyway check it out.
  5. Jun 10, 2013 #4
    A few things:

    The D-wave system is not a full quantum computer per se, it's a special type, and there's a lot of questions regarding exactly what it can do, even theoretically.

    And to answer some of the OP's questions. Classical programs can be run on a quantum computer, but it would be pointless as they would not benefit anything from it. In order to benefit from the quantum speed-up special algorithms have to be constructed that utilizes the quantum paralellism of superpositions and entanglement.

    The question about when a full quantum computer will be available is almost impossible to answer, because it wil depend on when significant break throuhs are made. Compare for example with the development of classical computers. The early computers made from electron tubes where extremely cumbersome and noone at that time could envision how these would ever be useful to the average person. Then someone figures out the transistor and suddenly all options are open. Quantum computers right now are similarly primitive, but there's just no way of predicting when or even if someone will invent an effective "quantum transitor". Most people guess on a couple of decades or so.
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