This chapter examines the power of quantum computing, as well as the related concepts of quantum cryptography and teleportation. In 1982, the Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman noticed there was no simple way of simulating quantum physical systems using digital computers. He turned this problem into an opportunity—perhaps a computational device based on quantum mechanics could solve problems more efficiently than more traditional computers. In the decades that followed, computer scientists and physicists, often working together, showed in theory that quantum computers can solve certain problems, such as factoring numbers, much faster. Whether one can actually build large or even medium-scale working quantum computers and determine exactly what these computers can or cannot do still remain significant challenges.
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