Microsoft’s Quantum development kit announcement at the Ignite conference in September was exciting, but what’s even more thrilling is that they have released a preview of the devkit to the public. The company‘s own quantum-centric Q# programming language will be used for it, and they’re viewing quantum computing as the future of large-scale problems. They have spent 20 years researching quantum computing, and if they can eventually creation scalable quantum computers that can be used by anyone. Their computers will actually create the qbits, which are the heart of the process. The quantum development kit uses Q# (q sharp) qbit variants. This type system supports operators and has been integrated into the Visual Studio IDE development environment.
Even in beta form, the developer kit has simulators for local and Azure cloud development and enables debugging for applications written in Q#, with the cloud simulator working with simulations that require over 40 qbits. Optizing code is easier thanks to the trace simulator included in the devkit, and the kit also gives you libraries, samples, and tutorials to craft quantum solutions. Given how few quantum computers exist in the whild, the simulator in the devkit will allow developers to debut and test programs. It can simulator 30 logical qbits of power using an everyday laptop, and larger-scale projects can use an Azure-based simulator that can simulator 40 qbits of power. Microsoft has crafted the kit to be used by any developers – including those with no major expertise in quahtum mechanics. This approach should in theory allow those who have passion, but lack the pure skillset, to at least try their hand at quantum computing solutions.
By using a kit that is so deeply-rooted in Visual Studio, anyone who has used that extensively should be able to take some of their skillset for that and transfer it over to quantum computing. There will be twists and turns in how things are done, but the company wants to make crafting solutions as easy as possible and crafting solutions that would have taken many years on a classic computers to now shaving that down to a few hours on a quantum computer. The suite of documentation is impressive and allows you to learn about the various types of Q# language and the compiler used to expression quantum algorithms. You can also get notes on every version of the devkit, sample concepts for quantum computing, learn about how to set up your quantum development environment – including information on the compiler and templates. A quickstart guide allows you to create a teleport application in Visual Studio, and will teach you about Q# and how to execute your code.
The quickstart guide is amazing because it walks you through everything step-by-step and teaches you what the pieces of the puzzle mean before you start putting them together. You’ll learn about renaming the files to properly execute the code, and the guide itself is written as a basic computer manual – so it’s incredibly easy to follow even if you’re a regular computer user. Anyone with programming knowledge should take to it like a fish to water and by making things so user-friendly, it opens the door to those who normally wouldn’t tinker with any kind of coding. Minimizing a barrier of entry in this way is huge in the long run.
The quickstart guide is amazing because it walks you through everything step-by-step and teaches you what the pieces of the puzzle mean before you start putting them together. You’ll learn about renaming the files to properly execute the code, and the guide itself is written as a basic computer manual – so it’s incredibly easy to follow even if you’re a regular computer user. Anyone with programming knowledge should take to it like a fish to water and by making things so user-friendly, it opens the door to those who normally wouldn’t tinker with any kind of coding. The company even has a guide to teach you about quantum computing – which is an impressive resource for the future. Being able to take complex problems and solve them quickly could be huge for physics and solve other major scientific issues like global warming, security, disease-fighting.
It’s incredibly unlikely that a quantum computer will be able to solve major world-scale problems right away – but the potential is there. Quantum computing may one day be able to solve issues that real-world minds can’t solve by simply being a machine. Perhaps if we have a lead cancer researcher doing research and coming so close to finding a solution to cure a type of cancer, but there’s a hangup caused by mental fatigue and stress having a machine be able to take on some of the workload would help. The mental fatigue and stress of being human would be taken out of the equation and the machine could devote all of its resources towards solving this problem.
The same could hold true for a formula for some kind of hunger solution. Everything we eat that is processed is a mix of chemicals and natural ingredients and one day, maybe we’ll see an incredibly-inexpensive source of food come about that mixes a chemical compound with some natural ingredients to ensure some sort of nutritional value to it. Having something just be “food” that is empty calories wouldn’t truly solve the problem of world hunger due to the lack of nutritional content hurting the body over the long haul. It’s one of the reasons that obesity is such a major issue. Heavily-processed stuff that is cheap usually has no nutritional value to it, but is inexpensive and technically counts as eating something – even if doing so leads to vitimin defficiencies and worsening health over the long run. While America as a nation has access to plenty of higher-quality food items, the country is still overwhelmed by obesity while other nations struggle with famine and malnutrition. Being able to use a quantum computer to create a formula that mixes the low cost of junk food with the nutrional value of say dried fruits or something similar that can be packaged and sold at a much lower price point would be huge globally.
Quantum computing is still in the early stages – and so much is based on theory. However, everything about the concept and its potential to change the world is exciting. Having technology be at a point where complex solutions can be crafted quickly to major issues is huge and might open the door to world-scale problems being solved. It may not happen in a lifetime, but by having the technology available to solve huge issues, the is a fighting chance that it could happen. We could see a world without hunger due to this kind of technology being available, and while there is no guarantee, the potential is still there.