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Adaptive techniques make practical many quantum measurements that would otherwise be beyond current laboratory capabilities. For example, they allow discrimination of nonorthogonal states with a probability of error equal to the Helstrom bound, measurement of the phase of a quantum oscillator with accuracy approaching (or in some cases attaining) the Heisenberg limit (HL), and estimation of phase in interferometry with a variance scaling at the HL, using only single qubit measurement and control. Each of these examples has close links with quantum information, in particular, experimental optical quantum information: the first is a basic quantum communication protocol; the second has potential application in linear optical quantum computing; the third uses an adaptive protocol inspired by the quantum phase estimation algorithm. We discuss each of these examples and their implementation in the laboratory, but concentrate upon the last, which was published most recently [Higgins et al. , Nature, vol. 450, p. 393, 2007].