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<The Mathematics Behind Quantum Computing: Part II ⁄ >




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Data in a quantum computer are stored in qubits, and manipulated by gates.

* A qubit (the name is a contraction of "quantum bit") is a device whose state can be represented by a unit vector in a 2-dimensional complex vector space. In terms of an orthonormal basis, usually designated |0>, |1>, the state is a0|0> + a1|1>; here a0 and a1 are complex numbers satisfying |a0|2 + |a1|2 = 1. When the qubit is measured, it reports "0" with probability |a0|2 and "1" with probability |a1|2; meanwhile, the numbers a0 and a1 are lost.
* Gates have kept their name from an early mechanistic conception of the flow of information through a computer. In quantum computation, gates are physical processes which can be applied to qubits.



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