0394: "Kilobyte"

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0394: "Kilobyte"

Postby Dr. Worm » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:15 am UTC

Image

http://xkcd.com/394/

Alt Text: "I would take "kibibyte" more seriously if it didn't sound so much like "Kibbles N Bits""

The kB made this one for me. My friends and I have been discussing the differences between leap and regular years lately.

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby rfts » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:18 am UTC

I was always confused about the difference between a kilobyte and a kibibyte and whatnaught, luckily, I'll always have xkcd to clarify for me. :).

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby rwald » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:21 am UTC

Part of me is slightly disappointed that Randall didn't use his position of authority to actually dictate a standard we will all use in the future. Oh well; I'll have to settle for funny.

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby netsplit » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:22 am UTC

Oh man what really gets my gander. Bits. Why can't networking equipment tell me the speed in bytes? I'm measuring the files I'll be sending through the network in bytes. The software I used for downloading will tell me the speed in bytes. WTF do I just wanna know it in bits for? I could see telling me the speed in both, but if you must chose, unless your a complete asstard you'll chose bytes! Damn you to hell modem people!

...

*looks around nervously and coughs* that is all.


Also the way I always understood it. Kilobytes were 1024 bytes, and a kilobit was 1000 bits. Which by the way makes showing speeds in bits for networking equipment useless. If you used the 1/8th simplification on gigabit networking equipment you'll end up with errors measured in megabytes.
Last edited by netsplit on Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:26 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Intel jokes

Postby DragonHawk » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:23 am UTC

Ah, Intel jokes. They never go out of style.

Daisy, daisy, give me your answer, do,
Getting hazy, can't divide three into to,
I could be sweet,
My answers fleet,
With a workable F.P.U.!

(Author unknown)

I'd also like to say: Today's comic bytes! (Get it-- Ow! My eye!)
-----
netsplit wrote:Why can't networking equipment tell me the speed in bytes?

Because throughput in bytes depends entirely on the framing and protocols you're using, while bitrate is constant and unambiguous.

If you just want a number that makes you feel better, divide the bitrate by eight. Or seven, might as well make it go faster than possible, since you don't care about correctness.

EDIT to add:
Kilobytes were 1024 bytes, and a kilobit was 1000 bits.

Yup. The bitrate of a serial link is measured before framing, so base ten is as good as base two. But most computer storage can't allocate on a 1000 byte boundary, so a "binary kilobyte" ("kibibite", in SI terms) is 1024 bytes. You'll never get a round number in base ten. Memory chips are sized in bits, but they get assembled into usable storage around bytes, e.g., eight 1-megabit chips to make a 1 MiB module (no parity). Pretty much all modern hard disks allocate storage in 512-byte blocks.
Last edited by DragonHawk on Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:35 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Linux0s » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:24 am UTC

The FPU Intel kb is funny because it's true.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby benjhuey » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:24 am UTC

I was just trying to figure this stuff out about three hours ago. How does Randall keep getting into our heads?
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby LordLandon » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:25 am UTC

On a somewhat related topic, I've always found it silly that half a byte is called a "nibble".

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby kellsbells » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:26 am UTC

I am particularly fond of the imaginary kilobyte. I would love to have imaginary (but still important!) storage.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby DragonHawk » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:28 am UTC

LordLandon wrote:On a somewhat related topic, I've always found it silly that half a byte is called a "nibble".

Don't you mean "nybble"? ;-)

If you really want to twist your brain around, try reading up on old minicomputer and mainframe architectures, where a byte wasn't always eight bits (seven or six bits was more common), and machine words were often something funky like 36 bits or 80 bits.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby ysth » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:29 am UTC

1012? What kind of compromise is that? There should be √(1000*1024) and √((1000²+1012²)/2) too.
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Re: Intel jokes

Postby netsplit » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:31 am UTC

DragonHawk wrote:
netsplit wrote:Why can't networking equipment tell me the speed in bytes?

Because throughput in bytes depends entirely on the framing and protocols you're using, while bitrate is constant and unambiguous.

If you just want a number that makes you feel better, divide the bitrate by eight. Or seven, might as well make it go faster than possible, since you don't care about correctness.



So put both measures on there. When Joe-average is looking for networking equipment chances are he's not gonna know the difference between bits and bytes.

It's deceptive advertising.
Last edited by netsplit on Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:32 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby hobbesmaster » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:32 am UTC

netsplit wrote:Oh man what really gets my gander. Bits. Why can't networking equipment tell me the speed in bytes? I'm measuring the files I'll be sending through the network in bytes. The software I used for downloading will tell me the speed in bytes. WTF do I just wanna know it in bits for? I could see telling me the speed in both, but if you must chose, unless your a complete asstard you'll chose bytes! Damn you to hell modem people!


If you really want to know why things are the way they are, look it up.

In short: 8 bits are not always a byte, especially in communications. Oh yeah, also, in ye olden days (pre microcomputer revolution) a byte was not a fixed size and would vary from computer to computer. It wasn't until we got ubiquitous 8bit microprocessors that there was a good solid 8 bits = 1 byte definition.

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby DJH47 » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:33 am UTC

For the record:

Kilobyte = 1000 bytes (10^3, to be consistent with SI)
Kibibyte = 1024 bytes (2^10)

The whole problem could be solved by scientific notation.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Kalos » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:33 am UTC

ysth wrote:1012? What kind of compromise is that?

An average

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby suso » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:38 am UTC

Nice 1st generation Pentium Floating Point error reference. I thought everyone had forgotten. Being the geek that I am, I actually kept mine because everyone else seemed to be sending theirs back. <evil voice>Now it will be worth millions!</evil voice> :twisted:

Actually, I think Suso's first server had this processor in it. Stupid Pionex piece of crap.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Owehn » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:41 am UTC

ysth wrote:1012? What kind of compromise is that? There should be √(1000*1024) and √((1000²+1012²)/2) too.

Well, they're both equal to 1012 when rounded off, so maybe the Kelly-Bootle standard was chosen to be a whole number of bytes.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby cephalopod9 » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:42 am UTC

My laptop is falling to Kipple Bytes :)
Image

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby netsplit » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:43 am UTC

hobbesmaster wrote:
netsplit wrote:Oh man what really gets my gander. Bits. Why can't networking equipment tell me the speed in bytes? I'm measuring the files I'll be sending through the network in bytes. The software I used for downloading will tell me the speed in bytes. WTF do I just wanna know it in bits for? I could see telling me the speed in both, but if you must chose, unless your a complete asstard you'll chose bytes! Damn you to hell modem people!


If you really want to know why things are the way they are, look it up.

In short: 8 bits are not always a byte, especially in communications. Oh yeah, also, in ye olden days (pre microcomputer revolution) a byte was not a fixed size and would vary from computer to computer. It wasn't until we got ubiquitous 8bit microprocessors that there was a good solid 8 bits = 1 byte definition.


I did not know that. That's an interesting read. Thanks for the link.
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Data rates

Postby DragonHawk » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:44 am UTC

netsplit wrote:
DragonHawk wrote:
netsplit wrote:Why can't networking equipment tell me the speed in bytes?

Because throughput in bytes depends entirely on the framing and protocols you're using, while bitrate is constant and unambiguous.

So put both measures on there.

You're not getting it. Bit rates apply to serial communications; byte rates vary with usage. 100 megabit/sec Ethernet does not mean 12.5 megabyte/sec Ethernet (let alone 12.5 mebibyte/sec). The actual rate you get will depend on the protocols and framing you're using. Even with ubiquitous IP, frame size can and does vary. Sending 1 MiB will take more bits if you use 576 byte frames instead of 1500 byte frames. To say nothing of jumbo frames. And does Joe-Average really care about the size of the Ethernet frame, or is he interested in what's inside the IP payload? Probably the later; he doesn't care about the 4 to 16 bytes per frame that are getting sucked up by protocol overhead.
It's deceptive advertising.

No, quoting figures that aren't actually based on the technology would be deceptive advertising. The bitrate is a fair, accurate measure of the speed of the equipment. Throughput in bytes is going to vary. Do you think the manufacturer is going to quote the smaller figures for throughput? So if they did as you ask, they'd be putting a figure you'd be guaranteed never to obtain on the box. Tell me how that's better than what we have now? Joe-Average will still know that 1000 Mbit/sec is bigger than 100 Mbit/sec, which is all he needs for chest-thumping purposes.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby suso » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:46 am UTC

Who is Kelly-Bootle? This Kelly-Bootle? I don't get the reference. Unless you were trying to make a pun. STANdard Kelly-Bootle Byte.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby DragonHawk » Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:59 am UTC

suso wrote:Who is Kelly-Bootle? This Kelly-Bootle?

I assumed so. That Kelly-Bootle is known (to me, anyway) for writing The Computer Contradictionary, which is full of humorous takes on computer lingo. For example:

recursion: See "recursion".
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby power » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:06 am UTC

Maybe this is where my convention of "Short Kilobyte" (1000-based units) and "Long Kilobyte" (1024-based units) will catch on.

It gets worse for larger units, since a Megabyte is sometimes 1000*1024 bytes.

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby scarletmanuka » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:18 am UTC

power wrote:It gets worse for larger units, since a Megabyte is sometimes 1000*1024 bytes.

Ah, yes, I was going to mention that. And each level up you get one more possibility.

On a somewhat related note, why are Microsoft still (as of XP, anyway) unable to get Explorer's detail view and status bar to agree on the size of a file? It's not a 1000/1024 issue because the discrepancies are smaller than that - it seems to be some sort of weird rounding thing, where a file that's 365.37 KB is reported as 365 KB in the status bar and 366 KB in the main view. I mean, I realise I'm saying this about Microsoft, but pick a convention and stick with it!
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Ari » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:20 am UTC

Kalos wrote:
ysth wrote:1012? What kind of compromise is that?

An average


I believe you're specifically referring to a mean. It can't be just any average, as a median or a mode are both impossible to take from just two values, and in fact a mode is impossible to take from any set that involves purely unique values. ;)

DragonHawk wrote:
suso wrote:Who is Kelly-Bootle? This Kelly-Bootle?

I assumed so. That Kelly-Bootle is known (to me, anyway) for writing The Computer Contradictionary, which is full of humorous takes on computer lingo. For example:

recursion: See "recursion".


ROFL, that's awesome. :D
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Re: Data rates

Postby netsplit » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:22 am UTC

DragonHawk wrote:
netsplit wrote:
DragonHawk wrote:
netsplit wrote:Why can't networking equipment tell me the speed in bytes?

Because throughput in bytes depends entirely on the framing and protocols you're using, while bitrate is constant and unambiguous.

So put both measures on there.

You're not getting it. Bit rates apply to serial communications; byte rates vary with usage. 100 megabit/sec Ethernet does not mean 12.5 megabyte/sec Ethernet (let alone 12.5 mebibyte/sec). The actual rate you get will depend on the protocols and framing you're using. Even with ubiquitous IP, frame size can and does vary. Sending 1 MiB will take more bits if you use 576 byte frames instead of 1500 byte frames. To say nothing of jumbo frames. And does Joe-Average really care about the size of the Ethernet frame, or is he interested in what's inside the IP payload? Probably the later; he doesn't care about the 4 to 16 bytes per frame that are getting sucked up by protocol overhead.
It's deceptive advertising.


Interesting, aren't there certain common frame rates for different speeds? I know dialup for example has small ones, as it can't handle large packets very well. Whereas high speed networks us large ones. I mean who's gonna use 576 byte frame rates on their eithernet? Unless you think running eithernet with a frame-relay of 576 bytes is common?


Why can't they have both measures, one for people who want bits, and one for people who want bytes?

No, quoting figures that aren't actually based on the technology would be deceptive advertising. The bitrate is a fair, accurate measure of the speed of the equipment. Throughput in bytes is going to vary. Do you think the manufacturer is going to quote the smaller figures for throughput? So if they did as you ask, they'd be putting a figure you'd be guaranteed never to obtain on the box. Tell me how that's better than what we have now? Joe-Average will still know that 1000 Mbit/sec is bigger than 100 Mbit/sec, which is all he needs for chest-thumping purposes.



Like you said protocol overhead. You're not going to get the advertised speed in bits either when doing actual things with the network. You'll get whatever's left from overhead.

also

they'd be putting a figure you'd be guaranteed never to obtain

Just a side bit of irony but 56k dialup modems are a legal fiction, FCC rules mean the most you could ever hope to get is 52k.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby espire » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:28 am UTC

A Kilo-Bite is a very large mouthful.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:32 am UTC

Also, memory chips. 8 megabit? Why the hell do I care about the size in bits? Just say 1 megabyte.

Hard drives are the worst for this though, where "250GB" = ~232GB. I still don't see how they get away with that.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby aeflash » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:34 am UTC

I always thought the whole 1024 vs 1000 thing was kind of inconsequential. With modern computers all you need to know is that in RAM, KB = 1024, and in disks, KB = 1000. Our human brains aren't really designed to be aware of the 2% difference between the two. It's not like we need to know that a 30 second 256kbps MP3 takes up exactly 983040 bytes = 960.000/ 983.040 KB, or that a random text file will take up 1,356 bytes. The filesystem takes care of allocating the correct amount of disk space and the virtual memory system allocates the correct amount of pages. Those details are best left to the computers, which is what we designed them for.

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby GauntletWizard » Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:03 am UTC

This comic is for the win. The whole thing is ridiculous, but sci prefixes make no sense in the computer world. The terms are entrenched, so we should continue using them till we can coin and promote something completely unrelated, but there's no reason to have them mean the same meaning as in the physical sciences world. Different strokes (and units of measurement) for different folks.

I actually got into a debate in #xkcd-signal with hexium about this last night. A fun flamewar, that.

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Solt » Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:11 am UTC

"Used in Quantum Computing"

That was great. I lol'd.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Philwelch » Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:28 am UTC

Ari wrote:I believe you're specifically referring to a mean. It can't be just any average, as a median or a mode are both impossible to take from just two values, and in fact a mode is impossible to take from any set that involves purely unique values. ;)


A median of an even number of values is simply the mean of the middle two values. So the median of two values is the same as the mean.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Your.Master » Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:30 am UTC

Why can't they have both measures, one for people who want bits, and one for people who want bytes?


Because there is no measure in bytes.

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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Nimz » Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:41 am UTC

Ari wrote:
Kalos wrote:
ysth wrote:1012? What kind of compromise is that?

An average


I believe you're specifically referring to a mean. It can't be just any average, as a median or a mode are both impossible to take from just two values, and in fact a mode is impossible to take from any set that involves purely unique values. ;)

Meh. Sort of ninja'd, but oh well. On a set of data with even size, medians are defined as the arithmetic mean of the two middle numbers (when arranged according to a standard ordering, e.g. '>'), so on a set of data with 2 elements, the median would be identical to the arithmetic mean. But there'd still be no mode if the set contains no repeated values. ;) Of course there are also other kinds of mean - there's also the geometric mean, v v v

Owehn wrote:
ysth wrote:1012? What kind of compromise is that? There should be √(1000*1024) and √((1000²+1012²)/2) too.

Well, they're both equal to 1012 when rounded off, so maybe the Kelly-Bootle standard was chosen to be a whole number of bytes.

I assume both of you meant √((1000²+1024²)/2) for the second one. If so, yes, they both round to 1012, but if not, the latter rounds to 1006. 8)

If the Kb is currently 908 bytes, it was the same size as the kB in 1979, the KB in 1982, the KBa in 1957, and the leap kB in 1985.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby starkruzr » Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:03 am UTC

I hate "kibibyte," "gibibyte," etc. It is pedantry of the worst kind.
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby gazzaj » Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:04 am UTC

Nimz wrote:
If the Kb is currently 908 bytes, it was the same size as the kB in 1979, the KB in 1982, the KBa in 1957, and the leap kB in 1985.


And the same as the KiB in 1979i ... an imaginary year in which the Ayatollah returned from exile to rule over the Moon, Three Mile Island exploded in a shower of marshmellows, England picked Margaret Thatcher as opening batsman for the Ashes, and instead of conceiving me my parents had a nice game of Scrabble instead. ;-)

Edit: whoops! No it isn't. We gotta go forward 227 years to get rid of those pesky real kb's when drives drop to zero and then backwards 256 years in imaginary time to pick up the 1024i kb's... so they're really equal in (2235 - 256i) A.D. In the real future but the imaginary past...

This is beginning to sound like an episode of Lost :? Anyone got their heads around imaginary space-time that can explain what it all means?
Last edited by gazzaj on Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:31 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Foone
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Foone » Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:31 am UTC

I was bored and sick so I implemented the comic.
For example, when run on a music video by Herman's Hermits, I get the following file sizes:

Code: Select all

foone@mobile:~/Desktop$ python howbig.py Movies/henry.flv
Movies/henry.flv
  4063 kB
  4015 KB
  (3968.69348078-3.87567722733j) KiB
  3965.06702992 kb
  4475 Kb
  3527 KBa


The printing of the complex numbers could be better.

EDIT: Fixed a typo and a bug with non-leap years.
EDIT EDIT: Fixed a short-lived pastebin
Last edited by Foone on Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:56 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Eleyras
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Eleyras » Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:38 am UTC

My favorite of these is the Kb, because it's so true. My iPod currently holds 1.75gb of music on its 2gig drive, and yet it still tells me it's full. Alas. Sigh. /dramatics.
At some point, I will remember to sig quotes I find amusing or something.

...once I stop laughing.

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Phoenix '97
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Phoenix '97 » Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:51 am UTC

What about quaternion kilobytes? (1 + i + j + k)KB
I would guess these would be used with hyper-quantum computers, where each bit is simultaneously 1, -1, i, and -i at the same time. Zero is missing as I don't quite know how to extend the concept of "0 and 1" from two to four elements. You could use "0, 1, 2, and 3" but it doesn't look orthogonal enough for me. :)
And of course, using hyper-quantum computers during your daily commute is not allowed.
SCSI Wuzzy was a drive. SCSI Wuzzy had ID #5. SCSI Wuzzy wasn't muzzy, was he?

Landak
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Re: "Kilobyte" Discussion

Postby Landak » Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:33 am UTC

I believe [http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0002077] that Qubits are represented ideally as a linear superposition of the two orthogonal basis kets |0> and |1>; i.e. the qubit \psi is |\psi> = a|0> + b|1>, where {a, b} are (complex) probability "amplitudes". Normally a normalisation convention is adapted so that |a|^2+|b|^2=1. The actual intricacies of quantum computation are incredibly complicated (and beyond my brain at the moment - I'm an undergraduate) but I heartily recommend some of DiVincenzo's more readable papers, like that earlier (it's quite understandable and doesn't really require much background knowledge) and the slightly more practical http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/9911245. If you don't know what kets are, the wiki article on Dirac's bra-ket notation is somewhat useless; I suggest Dirac's "Principles of quantum mechanics" which will explain the whole lot from the very beginning. (Pracie: Generalisations of vectors)

And yes, I did register just to post this...


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