Sunday, June 19, 2005

Qudit Naming
Entanglement Made Simple (PhysicsWeb) begs the (un)important question -- what do you call qudits with more dimensions than 3?

The accepted names are:
2 (binary) qubit
3 (ternary) qutrit
D (arbitrary) qudit

Clearly the first two come from bit and trit, the common terms in the classical domain, which are loosely based (I assume) on the Latin names for bases:
2 binary
3 ternary
4 quaternary
5 quinary
6 senary
7 septenary
8 octal
9 nonary
10 decimal
11 undenary
12 duodecimal
20 vigesimal
60 sexagesimal

(Eric W. Weisstein. "Base." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Base.html)

If you took the boring route and named them after the Latin words, this is what you might get (your results on this [fairly pointless] exercise may vary)

4 quaternary: quatrit
5 quinary: quinit
6 senary: qusenit
7 septenary: quseptit
8 octal: quoctit
9 nonary: quonit
10 decimal: qudecit
11 undenary: qundenit
12 duodecimal: quduodecit
20 vigesimal: quvigesit
60 sexagesimal: qusexagesit

Those are mostly pretty terrible, almost as bad sounding as qualgorithm. So here's a modest proposal: instead of invoking Latin, replace the D in quDit with a number (but keep qubit and qutrit since they're pretty well accepted). e.g.:

2 (binary) qubit
3 (ternary) qutrit
4 (quaternary) qu4it
5 (quinary) qu5it
6 (senary) qu6it
10 (decimal) qu10it

A bit hard to pronounce maybe, but easily recognizable in print.

If you don't want to talk about them anymore, let's call it qu0its :)

Yes, there are bigger fish to fry. But this beats cat blogging, no?