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What Quantum Computing Can Do for You

D-Wave Systems' so-called quantum computer without its protective thermal canisters, at the company's lab in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, Mar. 11, 2013
D-Wave Systems' so-called quantum computer without its protective thermal canisters, at the company's lab in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, Mar. 11, 2013Photograph by Kim Stallknecht/The New York Times via Redux

So-called quantum computers are designed to quickly crunch numbers that would take a person a lifetime or longer—for instance, mapping trillions of amino acids for futuristic drug cures or making sense of the avalanche of public data we create daily. So what can you get by putting one to use for your company, as Lockheed Martin has since it bought the world’s first corporate model from D-Wave Systems in 2011? (A few weeks ago, Google (GOOG) bought the second.) The aerospace and security giant has been operating its device at the University of Southern California’s Quantum Computation Center for the past 18 months.

Bloomberg Businessweek spoke with Brad Pietras, Lockheed’s vice president in charge of technology, about quantum computing’s value to his business and its future.