Quantum computers: Definition and implementations

Carlos A. Pérez-Delgado and Pieter Kok

Physical Review A 83, 012303 (2011)


The DiVincenzo criteria for implementing a quantum computer have been seminal in focussing both experimental and theoretical research in quantum information processing. These criteria were formulated specifically for the circuit model of quantum computing. However, several new models for quantum computing (paradigms) have been proposed that do not seem to fit the criteria well. The question is therefore what are the general criteria for implementing quantum computers. To this end, a formal operational definition of a quantum computer is introduced. It is then shown that according to this definition a device is a quantum computer if it obeys the following four criteria: Any quantum computer must (1) have a quantum memory; (2) facilitate a controlled quantum evolution of the quantum memory; (3) include a method for cooling the quantum memory; and (4) provide a readout mechanism for subsets of the quantum memory. The criteria are met when the device is scalable and operates fault-tolerantly. We discuss various existing quantum computing paradigms, and how they fit within this framework. Finally, we lay out a roadmap for selecting an avenue towards building a quantum computer. This is summarized in a decision tree intended to help experimentalists determine the most natural paradigm given a particular physical implementation.

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© 2017 Pieter Kok

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