#Opinion – More information about the Microsoft bet in Quantum Computing


After yesterday’s announcement where Microsoft made public its commitment to Quantum Computing, it is time to review a little more details of it. We start from the base that QC is not something new, today, there are other greats like IBM that already offer us a service of QC in cloud mode and even we can test machines with 5 Qubits of capacity and to program them for free (see references)

Well, yesterday in a waste of IQ during the KeyNote of Microsoft Ignite, Satya Nadella invited a panel to discuss and talk about Quantum Computing to Michael Freedman, Microsoft technical fellow, Station Q; Leo Kouwenhoven, Charlie Marcus, Microsoft principal researchers, Qfab; and Krysta Svore, Microsoft principal researcher, QuArC Software. Here you go …


Each one of the people on the panel deals with different topics, although the central axis is the approach that Microsoft is taking with respect to the Qubits. Michael Freedman was talking about the special topology they’ve designed for this new Quantum Computer.

Remember that one of the most important problems that this presents, is to be able to “read accurately” the values of each Qubit. For this, the QC must work with temperatures close to absolute zero. But I will not go this way, that I have much to study and learn about it.

Update: Thanks to Eduard notes, I’ve updated the numbers. In this context, temperatures close to absolute zero means 0.015 Kelvin degrees, which can be translated into -273 Celsius degrees or -459 Fahrenheit degrees.

What if I am interested is the future where we will program on Quantum computers, here we must start from scratch. A very simple analogy to understand is this:

I guess many programmers know that the basis of a computer is 0 and 1. Many programmers are familiar with programming languages such as JavaScript, C # or Java. However, only a few understand and can explain how we came from the zero and ones layer to C# code. There are many levels of abstraction in between and so it seems to me, the programming of Qubits will be almost at the lower levels.

From what we see in the Screenshots that have been used, we are talking about programming using logical gates like AND, OR, XOR, etc. Added to that, these are not conventional operations, because we have to take into account the superposition and the  entanglement which involves the work with Qubits. This is back to the grassroots, and I think I’ll thank Ramon, when I made it down to the chip programming level in Arduino a few years ago.

Important: A greater amount of Qubits in a quantum processor, the higher the level of errors that we can find. Today, one of the great barriers, is the way to work with a high number of Qubits and a low rate of errors.

I’ll go back to the main topic, I am easily distracted about this topics. At the end of the panel. Krysta was speaking about what we can expect as programmers in the near future.

  • Complete integration in Visual Studio. This is a great one for developers. Learning a new technology/platform or language in a known IDE always makes the challenge more bearable.
  • Debugging capabilities. That is, to be able to see and analyze the step by step of the states of each Qubits while the same ones change. This seems somewhat trivial, however, being able to debug simple sentences step by step, is usually a great help to understand how quantum computing works. We’ll see what we find inside the IDE. Personally, the way in which IBM has embodied it in its online environment, is quite didactic.
  • Of course, the classics, Intellisense, auto-completion, and more. We’re talking about a new specific domain translated into a programming language. All we can take advantage of the IDE, will be welcome.
  • And finally, a simulator. It will allow us to test our algorithms without the need to have a Quantum Computer by hand. So they comment, we will have 2 modes to use the same
  • Local mode where we can simulate 30 Qubits and we will need a nice 32 GB of RAM.
  • And also in cloud mode, where we can upload the configuration to 40Qubits.

The important thing here is that, the jump from 30 Qubits to 40 Qubits is not trivial, it should be remembered that the ability to handle states with Qubits grows exponentially. And 40 Qubits is much more than “only 10 Qubits more”

Well, I recommend you see the KeyNote of Ignite and give a look at the references.

Happy Quantum Coding!

Greetings @ Toronto

El Bruno



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