The field of Quantum Computation has been expanding exponentially over the last decade. At its core is the idea of finding a physical system with the right characteristics to build the "quantum computer", a device which can improve computer performance to levels unreachable by standard (i.e. "classical") computer. There are proposals for quantum computers based on semiconductors, superconductors, cold ions or atoms, molecules in a solvent, fullerenes and so on. Each of the proposals has advantages and disadvantages, and has been partially tested experimentally. The requirements to build a quantum computer are experimentally very challenging, so that the experiments performed in this area are at the very edge of modern techniques. The "quantum computer" is in fact based on the smallest possible quantum system (the two-level system or "quantum-bit") and on exquisite quantum mechanical properties, such as state superposition.
The Introduction to Quantum Computation part of this module aims to provide an introduction to this booming research field.
Module learning outcomes
discuss the fundamentals of quantum computation: concept of quantum bit (qubit); single and two qubit gates; role of superposition principle (quantum parallelism); concept of entanglement; concept of density matrix and its properties; differences between pure and mixed states
understand and been able to use circuit representation of quantum gates
understand and describe some of the quantum algorithms and the basics of quantum-error correction
understand teleportation and describe the simplest teleportation protocol
describe the requirements for physical systems to be used as quantum computers;
understand the main physical limitations to quantum computation (decoherence and scalability); understand how decoherence influences density matrices
describe specific proposals on quantum computers
understand and describe some experimental results related to specific proposals