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July 20th, 2010
Of all the weird consequences of quantum mechanics, one of the strangest is the notion of postselection: the ability to trigger a computation that automatically disregards certain results.
Here's an example: suppose you have a long, tortuous expression in which there are a frighteningly large number of variables. The question you want answering is which combination of variables makes the expression logically true. And the conventional way to solve it is by brute force: try every combination of variable until you find one that works. That's hard.
Postselection, however, makes the solution easy to find. Simply allow the variables to take any value at random and then postselect on the condition that the answer must be true. This automatically disregards any wrong'uns that come up.
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