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Quantum Computation: Where Does the Speed-up Come From?

In Alisa Bokulich & Gregg Jaeger (eds.), Philosophy of Quantum Information and Entanglement. Cambridge University Press. pp. 231--246 (2010)

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  1. On the Physical Explanation for Quantum Computational Speedup.Michael E. Cuffaro - 2013 - Dissertation, The University of Western Ontario
    The aim of this dissertation is to clarify the debate over the explanation of quantum speedup and to submit, for the reader's consideration, a tentative resolution to it. In particular, I argue, in this dissertation, that the physical explanation for quantum speedup is precisely the fact that the phenomenon of quantum entanglement enables a quantum computer to fully exploit the representational capacity of Hilbert space. This is impossible for classical systems, joint states of which must always be representable as product (...)
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  • Universality, Invariance, and the Foundations of Computational Complexity in the Light of the Quantum Computer.Michael Cuffaro - 2018 - In Sven Hansson (ed.), Technology and Mathematics: Philosophical and Historical Investigations. Springer. pp. 253-282.
    Computational complexity theory is a branch of computer science dedicated to classifying computational problems in terms of their difficulty. While computability theory tells us what we can compute in principle, complexity theory informs us regarding our practical limits. In this chapter I argue that the science of \emph{quantum computing} illuminates complexity theory by emphasising that its fundamental concepts are not model-independent, but that this does not, as some suggest, force us to radically revise the foundations of the theory. For model-independence (...)
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  • On the Necessity of Entanglement for the Explanation of Quantum Speedup.Michael Cuffaro - manuscript
    Of the many and varied applications of quantum information theory, perhaps the most fascinating is the sub-field of quantum computation. In this sub-field, computational algorithms are designed which utilise the resources available in quantum systems in order to compute solutions to computational problems with, in some cases, exponentially fewer resources than any known classical algorithm. While the fact of quantum computational speedup is almost beyond doubt, the source of quantum speedup is still a matter of debate. In this paper I (...)
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  • Information Causality, the Tsirelson Bound, and the 'Being-Thus' of Things.Michael E. Cuffaro - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
    The principle of 'information causality' can be used to derive an upper bound---known as the 'Tsirelson bound'---on the strength of quantum mechanical correlations, and has been conjectured to be a foundational principle of nature. In this paper, however, I argue that the principle has not to date been sufficiently motivated to play this role; the motivations that have so far been given are either unsatisfactorily vague or else amount to little more than an appeal to intuition. I then consider how (...)
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  • Many Worlds, the Cluster-State Quantum Computer, and the Problem of the Preferred Basis.Michael E. Cuffaro - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43 (1):35-42.
    I argue that the many worlds explanation of quantum computation is not licensed by, and in fact is conceptually inferior to, the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics from which it is derived. I argue that the many worlds explanation of quantum computation is incompatible with the recently developed cluster state model of quantum computation. Based on these considerations I conclude that we should reject the many worlds explanation of quantum computation.
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