According to the Church-Turing Thesis, a Turing machine, and thus the programming languages and computers in existence, can simulate any reasonable computing device. However, there are physical devices that are exponentially more efficient than a Turing machine, and hence would prove exponentially difficult to simulate using such a machine. This chapter explores the concept of quantum computers and their potential not only to simulate quantum physics exponentially faster than classical computers but also to solve other problems exponentially faster. It considers algorithms that break cryptosystems, find needles in haystacks, and predict who can win a game. It first describes particles, waves, and amplitudes in quantum computation before turning to states and operators. It then examines how interference lets a quantum computer learn some things about a function, how quantum computers can solve factoring in polynomial time, the link between factoring and modern cryptography, graph isomorphism and the hidden subgroup problem, and quantum walks and scattering.
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