Schrödinger's Killer App: Race to Build the World's First Quantum Computer

Jonathan P. Dowling

May 7, 2013 by CRC Press
Reference - 453 Pages - 54 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9781439896730 - CAT# K14277


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  • Provides first-hand information previously unavailable to the public that details the U.S. government’s program to develop quantum computers and corresponding software
  • Shows how Schrödinger’s notion of quantum entanglement is the power behind the quantum computer
  • Gives an intuitive introduction to the strange predictions of quantum theory that are typically difficult to understand
  • Describes the theoretical development and experimental tests of Bell’s theory
  • Chronicles the history of cryptography and the use of computers in code breaking and physics simulations
  • Explains why quantum computers are exponentially better than current computers and why related quantum cryptographic systems are unbreakable compared to current implementations of cryptography
  • Covers other quantum technologies and applications, including quantum teleportation, sensing, imaging, and timekeeping
  • Considers the future of artificial intelligence in a world of quantum computers


The race is on to construct the first quantum code breaker, as the winner will hold the key to the entire Internet. From international, multibillion-dollar financial transactions to top-secret government communications, all would be vulnerable to the secret-code-breaking ability of the quantum computer.

Written by a renowned quantum physicist closely involved in the U.S. government’s development of quantum information science, Schrödinger’s Killer App: Race to Build the World’s First Quantum Computer presents an inside look at the government’s quest to build a quantum computer capable of solving complex mathematical problems and hacking the public-key encryption codes used to secure the Internet. The "killer application" refers to Shor’s quantum factoring algorithm, which would unveil the encrypted communications of the entire Internet if a quantum computer could be built to run the algorithm. Schrödinger’s notion of quantum entanglement—and his infamous cat—is at the heart of it all.

The book develops the concept of entanglement in the historical context of Einstein’s 30-year battle with the physics community over the true meaning of quantum theory. It discusses the remedy to the threat posed by the quantum code breaker: quantum cryptography, which is unbreakable even by the quantum computer. The author also covers applications to other important areas, such as quantum physics simulators, synchronized clocks, quantum search engines, quantum sensors, and imaging devices. In addition, he takes readers on a philosophical journey that considers the future ramifications of quantum technologies.

Interspersed with amusing and personal anecdotes, this book presents quantum computing and the closely connected foundations of quantum mechanics in an engaging manner accessible to non-specialists. Requiring no formal training in physics or advanced mathematics, it explains difficult topics, including quantum entanglement, Schrödinger’s cat, Bell’s inequality, and quantum computational complexity, using simple analogies.