Ternary Computing Might Make its Big Debut with Quantum Computing
April 6, 2008 4:12 PM
D-Wave's 16 qubit quantum computer is the pride of current quantum computers
A team from Australia suggests that not only will ternary data be helpful in the budding field of quantum computing, but practically necessary
Generations of computer scientists grew up under the notion that ternary computing was just around the corner. Modern computers store information in a binary system, a logical representation of true and false. Ternary computing, on the other hand, stores information as a representation of false, null and true; 0, 1, 2 or -1, 0 and 1.
Computer storage methods going back to punch cards made binary computing methods sensible. When storage moved to magnetic and transistor-based alternatives, the binary system continued to flourish -- and any reason to switch to a ternary system was nonessential with prolific and scalable storage.
But with the advent of quantum computing, ternary computing has a new cause. Universal quantum logic gates, the building blocks of infant quantum computing, require hundreds of gates in order to complete any useful work.
D-Wave's quantum computer
, announced last year, consists of only 16 qubits -- just enough for a controlled NOT gate.
It's an inevitability that quantum computers will continue to scale, even based on current technologies. In the
meantime a team lead by University of Queensland's B. P. Lanyon
proposed a new method to scale quantum computers faster by exploiting the well researched fields of ternary computing.
The modern representation of true or false can be expressed as a bit. The quantum computing equivalent of a bit is dubbed a qubit. Traditional computers that store data in ternary operations are dubbed trits; the quantum equivalent is called a qutrit.
What makes Lanyon's method truly innovative is that by using qutrits for universal quantum gates instead of qubits, researchers can reduce the number gates needed in a computer significantly.
Lanyon proposes that a computer that would traditionally take 50 conventional quantum gates could use as few as 9 gates using the ternary method.
"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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