Quantum Processor Factors Prime Number
Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have built a quantum processor that can factor a composite number – in this case the number 15 – into its constituent prime factors, 3 and 5. While the math may not be much of an achievement, performing it successfully is an important step towards factoring much larger numbers, with implications 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 Andrew Cleland, a professor of physics at UCSB. “We just need to scale up the size of this processor to something much larger. This won’t be easy, but the path forward is clear.” Factoring very large numbers is central to cybersecurity protocols, such as RSA encryption.