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Will Shor’s Algorithm Break the Internet? by Michael Bedard '24 & Tucker Catlin '24

Wed, December 6th, 2023
1:00 pm
- 1:50 pm

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Quantum Computing: Will Shor’s Algorithm Break the Internet? by Michael Bedard ’24 & Tucker Catlin ’24, Wednesday December 6, 1:00 – 1:50pm, North Science Building 113, Wachenheim


Shor’s algorithm, a landmark achievement in quantum computing introduced by Peter Shor in 1994, redefines the landscape of integer factorization. The algorithm exploits the inherent parallelism afforded by quantum mechanics, specifically through leveraging quantum superposition. In contrast to classical algorithms, Shor’s approach enables the simultaneous evaluation of multiple potential factors, resulting in an exponential speedup for factoring large numbers. This breakthrough has profound implications for cryptography, particularly in rendering classical encryption methods, such as RSA, vulnerable. The efficiency gains of Shor’s algorithm fundamentally alter the security assumptions underpinning classical cryptographic systems, posing a considerable challenge to conventional decryption methods. While the practical implementation of large-scale, fault-tolerant quantum computers remains an ongoing challenge, Shor’s algorithm underscores the transformative potential of quantum computing in the realm of mathematical problem-solving and encryption.

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