A prime problem that even quantum computing can't solve

Sir

Your News Feature 'The dreamweaver's abacus' (Nature 452, 803–805; 2008) seems to have been rather carried away by the exciting prospects on offer from the emergent techniques of quantum computing. One thing that even quantum computing can never accomplish is “factoring large prime numbers”. It cannot even factor small ones.

The author is in august company, however, as no less a personage than Bill Gates has had similar visions. In connection with the need to break modern encryption, he wrote: “The obvious mathematical breakthrough would be development of an easy way to factor large prime numbers” (in The Road Ahead; Viking Press, New York, 1995).

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bywater, R. A prime problem that even quantum computing can't solve. Nature 453, 586 (2008) doi:10.1038/453586c

Download citation

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.