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Starting from an algorithm without any error correction or detection, what incremental improvements can be made towards fully fault-tolerant encoding and operation?

It seems that fault-tolerant error correction is an all-or-nothing approach: encoding qubits and applying logical gates without error correction decrease fidelities. Non-fault-tolerant error correction, i.e., without cat states for ancilla qubits, exacerbates the issue. Are there any valuable steps that can enhance the algorithm's outcome during this progression?

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