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An international research group has for the first time demonstrated a quantum algorithm that performs a true calculation, without needing to know the answer before the start. The team's 'phase estimation algorithm', they say, is a central quantum algorithm which achieves an exponential speedup over all classical algorithms. It's a key sub-routine of many other important quantum algorithms, such as Shor's factoring algorithm and quantum simulations. "Before our experiment, there had been several demonstrations of quantum algorithms, however, none of them implemented the quantum algorithm without knowing the answer in advance. This is because in the previous demonstrations the quantum circuits were simplified to make it more experimentally feasible," says the University of Bristol's Dr Xiao-Qi Zhou, who led the project.
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