12 December, 2017
What will quantum computers be sued for in the future? Now, there's a toolkit for that.
MICROSOFT WANTS TO PLAY in the qubit sandpit, as it's released a preview version of its own quantum computing development kit.
Quantum computing making its way out of the labs and into general use might be some way off, but any developers who want to prepare for that time can do so with Microsoft's Quantum Development Kit.
As you expect, this new SDK is deeply integrated into Visual Studio, so it will be familiar to developers who are already developing applications in other programming languages.
It is created to work with a local quantum simulator, also released with the kit, which is capable of simulating roughly 30 logical qubits on a standard laptop machines. For developers looking for large scale challenges, Microsoft has announced an Azure-based simulator that can simulate more than 40 logical qubits of computing power.
Along with the kit, Microsoft is offering a comprehensive suite of sample programs, documentation, and libraries. Quantum teleportation sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but it is a method of securely sharing information across qubits connected by quantum entanglement.
Quantum Development Kit's new free version includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator, and other tools for developers who want to test and debug their quantum algorithms.
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Quantum computers are expected to boost the capabilities of artificial intelligence, improve cybersecurity, and allow for more nuanced natural language processing.
For example, numerous current breakthroughs in AI are based in part on machine learning, in which a system is given a set of data and learns from that data to recognize things like words, sounds or objects.
"It seems like there's a huge amount of potential there, and we're just scratching the surface", she said.
During September's Open Source Summit in Los Angeles, Konstantinos Karagiannis, CTO of Security Consulting at BT Americas, warned in a session that quantum computing can pose risks to cryptography and Bitcoin. Storing qubits and handling them can be very finicky, which is why your PC doesn't have an Intel Core-Q processor powering Windows Quantum yet. The goal of that content is to give the background that devs will need to take advantage of aspects of computing that are unique to quantum systems, like quantum teleportation. Quantum computation can be deployed to tackle some of the hardest problems, including climate change and world hunger.
Microsoft has high hopes for quantum computing and is investing accordingly.
"What you're going to see as a developer is the opportunity to tie into tools that you already know well, services you already know well", said Todd Holmdahl, the corporate vice president for Microsoft's quantum project.