Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Wax on Wax off

  1. Nov 18, 2007 #1
    This question is from a lay person. LoL

    Quantum computing and it's associated research seems to be based on quantum superposition etc. 1 & 0
    Why has the old 1 & 0 method of computation been carried over to and by Quantum researchers . It would seem that if you want faster and faster computers, one would abandon 1 & 0 and come up with pure form of Quantum computation and data storage/transfer that does not rely on the old standard.

    I apologize if I have offended someone by posting this question in this particular forum.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 18, 2007 #2
    In classical computing, 1 and 0 are just the names we give to two, generally arbitrarily defined, states that we allow parts of our system to be in. Generally, these correspond to ranges of voltages; but, in general voltage can vary continuously. So, it's actually possible to have something that's neither a 1 or a 0.

    In quantum systems, you actually get states that are fundamentally discrete. Thus, if you have a system with only two discrete states, calling them 1 and 0 is actually better defined than the classical 1 and 0. So, it's not really a matter of standards. It's really just a naming convention for the states of a two-state system.
  4. Nov 18, 2007 #3
    ...and to add to Parlyne's correct answer...

    Certainly there are things in QM that can take on more than two states. But two-state systems are the simplest we can use to construct QM computers, so that's what we pursue now. Maybe after we've mastered powerful QM computers based on two states, we'll start thinking about higher bases.
  5. Nov 18, 2007 #4
    Thanks again guys for the timely explanations.
    For some strange reason, I visualize data not in a register of 1 or 0 but as a pool of data not in any one place at a particular time but in any place and instantaneously accessible as one mass of data transfered by light with no conversion to base2 electrical signals necessary. Do I need a shrink? Oh and I am Sorry for the run on sentence.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2007
  6. Nov 18, 2007 #5
    Well, I'm not positive what you are getting at here. I'll ramble a bit in what I hope is the right direction. Please forgive me for stating the parts you already know and consider obvious (sometimes its easier to be a little verbose in this medium at risk of sounding patronizing).

    If you're speaking about analog computing vs. digital, certainly QM HAS to be digital. That's what 'quantum' means, of course.

    We honestly don't know what "really happens" in QM. QM only let's us predict a classical (non-QM) result so that our very classical brains have something to talk about amongst themselves.

    So we don't really know what superposition is, except its classical results. I kind of think of it as non-conservation of energy until the result is observed (decohered, collapsed, whatever you like to call it). So ALL possible processes are performed (because there is unlimited "virtual" energy to use) but observation forces the universe to stop misbehaving and start conserving energy again.
  7. Nov 18, 2007 #6
    Quantum Turing machine

    Apart from the above replies there is the Turing Machine that is a fundamental machine that uses 0 and 1 to solve any solvable problem (in theory). There is now - thank goodness - a Quantum Turing Machine - that does the same thing but much faster for big calculations. But it still uses 0 and 1 (and a combination of 0 and 1 if you get my meaning :rolleyes:)

    I suppose one could also use 0 to 337, but the math would would out the same (or :confused:)
  8. Nov 18, 2007 #7
    Wow!! Thanks for the additional help guys.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook