Published: Wed, December 13, 2017
Science | By Eileen Rhodes

Microsoft previews Quantum Development Kit

Microsoft previews Quantum Development Kit

"With the preview release of the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit, we are one step closer to realizing this vision", the Microsoft Quantum Team, wrote in a post. The kit, which was first announced at Microsoft's Ignite conference in September, includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator that can simulate 30 logical qubits of power and a companion collection of documentation, libraries and sample programs that will help developers get a better foothold on the complex science behind quantum computing.

"The hope is that you play with something like teleportation and you get intrigued", stated Krysta Svore, a principal researcher at Microsoft who has led the development of the development kit.

So Microsoft wants to create a quantum computing ecosystem that bypasses the need for a deep understanding of physics and computing (leaving all that stuff to Microsoft) and instead enabling developers to build upon a new computing framework.

Companies including IBM and Google have built and tested small assemblies of qubits, and IBM has made prototype quantum chips available via the cloud, along with a software development kit programmers can use to experiment with it. Startup Rigetti Computing also offers a set of quantum programming tools called Forest. The industry giant also launched a quantum simulator that developers can use to test and debug their quantum algorithms.

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The kit will let people create applications that can run right now on the quantum simulator, and those same apps also will eventually work on a topological quantum computer, which Microsoft is in the process of developing for general objective quantum computing. When Microsoft first unveiled the Development Kit, it didn't reveal details of what the programming language would include.

Experts believe quantum computers could allow scientists to address some of the world's toughest challenges, such as world hunger or the unsafe effects of climate change. The quantum simulators will enable debugging support and support for simulations that requires more than 40 qubits. The toolset consists of several components that can together create a full quantum development environment. Microsoft has just released a preview version of a development kit designed for just that.

All these features and tools are not offering "quantum computing for dummies" - far from it.

"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", Holmdahl said.

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