The most down-voted question at the moment is about using entanglement for faster-than-light communication.

Much like how the word “laser” replaced “magic” in the vernacular not too long ago, what are some things that people outside the field think quantum computers, qubits, entanglement, tunneling, or superposition do that people might need to be educated about? Or what are some popular myths about these things should be dispelled?

One question I’m asked frequently is the reason for the difference in the number of qubits between the D Wave and IBM QX. D Wave has more so it must be better. So in this case, people need to be educated on the different implementations of quantum devices.


closed as too broad by Discrete lizard, bytebuster, blalasaadri, MEE is Johann Gambolputty ..., Andrew O Mar 22 '18 at 15:04

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    $\begingroup$ I’ve occasionally heard of time travel as well but I suppose that would be the same as superluninal communication. $\endgroup$ – Andrew O Mar 22 '18 at 12:23
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure if this question is fit for the QA platform, as it is both 1) a list question 2) rather broad 3) subjective, and very likely 'bad' subjective and 4) might sollicit unfriendly remarks or accidentally make proponents of the 'myths' rather mad. $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 22 '18 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ think this is valuable maybe in some other format. for example "what are authoritative refs on this sujbect". it is a significant area. we will likely have multiple questions relating to it. have seen many experts try to clarify or debunk certain misconceptions, eg aaronson gets very detailed/ emotional on this topic. could work as a reference question. maybe a tag idea like misconceptions? one area that immediately comes to mind: is quantum computing like parallel computing? some experts emphatically say no. etc. $\endgroup$ – vzn Mar 22 '18 at 15:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Discretelizard i don't think quantum-mythology is a good tag for this site. $\endgroup$ – heather Mar 22 '18 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ Quantum-urban-legend? Lol $\endgroup$ – Andrew O Mar 22 '18 at 21:09

1. Quantum computers are powerful because they act in many universes at once

This is an oversimplification based on the MWI at best. I don't think it has any pedagogical value. It needs to stop being repeated. Every journalist I talk to asks whether it is a good thing to write. I always say no.

2. Quantum computers/physics is weird and random

Anyone not swept up in the parallel universes seems to think that quantum computers are just some weird random thing. As before, there is a kernel of truth, but it is not a good explanation. Quantum algorithms are all about managing the certainty in the system, moving it through the state space to turn a certain input into an (ideally) certain output. The randomness is there, but I don't think it should be the focus of an understanding of quantum computing.

There seems to be an idea that quantum physics is just a strange random thing. And so quantum computers are just computers with weird randomness going on. From what I've seen, anyone who doesn't get swept up in the whole 'computing in many

3. Quantum physics does not follow logic

The popular talk of how strange and weird quantum physics is makes it seem quite illogical. This is pretty bad from the perspective of quantum computing, since computers are build on logic. How can a programmer be expected to make the move o quantum if they think that quantum programming is illogical? If the quantum world seems like a mystical realm understood only through arcane knowledge, it will be hard to engage people outside of the field.

Though quantum physics doesn't follow the logic of local hidden variables and non-contextuality, it of course has its own logic. The fun of quantum computing is learning how to embrace and use effects that are not possible in classical variables.


I think we should be championing the message that quantum computers are full of logic and certainty, and that these are what we harness to do computation. Too much talk of random and strange effects should be avoided. As should the whole multiple universe thing.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for this: "I think we should be championing the message that quantum computers are full of logic and certainty, and that these are what we harness to do computation". It is important that people know this is a science, not a religion! $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 22 '18 at 20:46
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    $\begingroup$ Btw, tangentially related is the common notion that 'complex numbers' are somehow 'magic' as well, while they are complex (ha) logic often presented as if it was magic: I made an attempt to dispell the magic here: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/74651/… $\endgroup$ – Discrete lizard Mar 22 '18 at 20:48

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