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Quantum computing promises to harness the strange properties of quantum mechanics in machines that will outperform even the most powerful supercomputers of today. But the extent of their application, it turns out, isn't entirely clear.

To fully realize the potential of quantum computing, scientists must start with the basics: developing step-by-step procedures, or algorithms, for quantum computers to perform simple tasks, like the factoring of a number. These simple algorithms can then be used as building blocks for more complicated calculations.

Prasanth Shyamsundar, a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Energy's Fermilab Quantum Institute, has done just that. In a preprint paper released in February, he announced two new algorithms that build upon existing work in the field to further diversify the types of problems quantum computers can solve.

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