Microsoft has now released a preview of its quantum computing development kit, as promised back in September during its Ignite Conference. Developers can take advantage of this to learn all there is about coding for quantum computer programs.
This kit includes the Q# programming language. It can simulate 30 logical qubits of power, a Q# library, a quantum trace simulator, a Visual Studio extension, and sample programs that aim to equip developers with sufficient knowledge about quantum computing.
Of course, it's important to know that this is merely a preview, which means it's aimed at early adopters who want to get started on learning how to code for quantum computers, which are largely different from typical computers. Simply put, typical computers function via bits, which are either on or off at any given time. Quantum computers have qubits that can exist in different states simultaneously, opening the door to more complex programs that can't possibly run on binary states.
Quantum Computing Simulator
The simulator included in Microsoft's kit will enable developers to test programs and debug code with their own computers since they most certainly don't have actual quantum computers to test their programs on yet. There's also a more powerful simulator with 40 logical qubits of power, accessed via the company's Azure cloud service. This is for those who have larger-scale quantum challenges.
It's also deeply integrated into Visual Studio, Microsoft's suite of developer tools, so various elements of the kit will be highly familiar to those already well-versed in the Redmond brand's cache of online tools.
"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 purpose quantum computing," wrote Microsoft in a blog post.
Releasing this kit, however, is just part of a bigger parcel that involves making it easier for developers to create quantum computing-based apps while also learning more about the technology underneath.
"We are developing those [the hardware and software stack] together so that you're really feeding back information between the software and the hardware as we learn, and this means that we can really develop a very optimized solution," said Microsoft's Krysta Svore during Ignite.
Microsoft isn't the only player in the quantum computing game, it's worth noting. IBM also has its own service that's been available to programmers since last year, and just this past November, IBM released a 20-qubit quantum computer while announcing that it's developing an even more powerful 50-qubit variant.
The Quantum Development Kit is available on Microsoft's website.