The Future Is Here

# Mathematicians Create Algorithm So Complex No Computer Can Use It...Yet

Quantum computers, which would rely on quantum mechanical concepts like superposition and entanglement to perform operations of unimaginable complexity, remain a pipe dream. But physicists have nevertheless come up with an algorithm that only quantum computers could use.

The newest algorithm, developed by Aram W. Harrow of the University of Bristol in England and Avinatan Hassidim and Seth Lloyd of MIT, tackles linear equations, which is something many students run across in high school or college. An example of such an expression is 3x + 4y = 12, with the variables and the constants on each side of the equation. Although it's relatively easy to solve an expression with only two unknown values, it is another matter entirely to solve systems with billions of unknown values.

Such scenarios are hardly unusual; weather scenarios frequently involve just that many variables and equations. These so-called "N by N" systems, which have N linear equations and N unknown values, can be solved relatively easy with current algorithms, but time is a factor. Say it takes a computer one second to solve one linear equation. If the system has a billion variables, then it will take a billion seconds to figure out every value. That's almost 32 years.