There was for many years a legendary mathematical phenomenon known as the RSA Factoring Challenge, created in 1991 by security company RSA Laboratories "to encourage research into computational number theory and the practical difficulty of factoring large integers".With prizes of up to $200,000 for finding what are known as prime factors in very large numbers, it attracted a lot of interest in the mathematical and cybersecurity worlds before being discontinued in 2007."If you tried to do that on a classical computer, like the best supercomputer in the world today, it would take you one billion years to go through and figure out what the prime factors are," says Todd Holmdahl, corporate vice-president at Microsoft for quantum computing."Now in the quantum world, if you have a quantum computer of relative-to-moderate size, you can find those prime factors in 100 seconds."Quantum, the next generation of computing, is in its infancy but has the potential to fundamentally alter the wo...

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