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Will the future quantum computers use binary, ternary or quaternary?

  1. Sep 8, 2014 #1

    Our current computers use bits, so they use the binary numeral system. But I heard that the future quantum computers will use qubits instead of simple bits.

    Since in the word "qubit" there is the word "bi" I first thought that this meant that quantum computers would use binary (base 2).

    But then I heard that qubits had three possible states: 0, 1, or a superposition of 0 and 1. So I then thought that this must mean that they will use ternary (base 3).

    But then I saw that one qubit can hold as much information as two bits. So I thought that this maybe mean that they will use quaternary (base 4).

    So which numeral system will the future quantum computers use: binary, ternary or quaternary?

    Thanks in advance for your answers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2014 #2


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    Quantum computers are still binary - "quantum binary", they can have arbitrary superpositions of 0 and 1. 0 and 1 are special cases of a superposition.
  4. Jan 18, 2015 #3


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    I sense some confusion in the question. The "binary numeral system" is something we can use to describe the state of something (for example the contents of a memory location). How that information is stored and manipulated is something else entirely. For example: The makers of Flash devices routinely use four levels inside each cell, corresponding to "00", "01", "10" and "11". Lately, Flash devices with eight levels are being produced and used, especially in SSDs.
  5. Jan 18, 2015 #4


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    Radix0 hasn't been here for months, it is unlikely that he is still watching this thread.
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