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UCSB Researchers Demonstrate That 15=3×5 About Half of the Time

University of California, Santa Barbara (08/20/12) Andrea Estrada

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) researchers have designed and fabricated a quantum processor that can factor a composite number into its constituent prime factors.  The researchers were able to factor the number 15 into its prime factors, three and five.  “We chose the number 15 because it is the smallest composite number that satisfies the conditions appropriate to test [Peter Shor’s prime factoring] algorithm–it is a product of two prime numbers, and it’s not even,” says UCSB researcher Erik Lucero.  The researchers say their achievement represents a milestone in the effort to build a quantum computer capable of factoring much larger numbers, with ramifications for cryptography and cybersecurity.  “What is important is that the concepts used in factoring this small number remain the same when factoring much larger numbers,” says UCSB professor Andrew Cleland.  The research represents a significant step toward a scalable quantum architecture while meeting a benchmark for quantum computation.  “After repeating the experiment 150,000 times, we showed that our quantum processor got the right answer just under half the time,” Lucero says.

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