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Microsoft, Brilliant team on quantum coding course

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By Rich Pell


The interactive Quantum Computing course, says the company, is designed to make getting started with quantum development easy and to teach users about quantum computing in a new way. It focuses on learning quantum computing and programming in Q#, Microsoft’s quantum-tuned programming language, and features Q# programming exercises with Python as the host language.

“Because quantum computing bridges the fields of information theory, physics, mathematics, and computer science, it can be difficult to know where to begin,” says the company’s Quantum Development Team in a blog post announcing the curriculum. “Brilliant’s course, integrated with some of Microsoft’s leading quantum development tools, provides self-learners with the tools they need to master quantum computing.”

The new quantum computing course starts from scratch and brings users along in a way that suits their schedule and skills. Users can build and simulate simple quantum algorithms on the go or implement advanced quantum algorithms in Q# on the web, without ever downloading a development environment.

The course is designed to cover quantum information, quantum operations, and introductory algorithm design in an intuitive way. It builds up the fundamental concepts of quantum information from first principles, and finds and addresses the points where classical intuition falls apart.

The course, says the company, aims to present the deep mysteries of quantum phenomena in an approachable way. For example, the course begins with a ball bouncing down The Price is Right’s Plinko board and then – with a few added lasers – reveals an example of boson sampling, a simple problem that is likely to be impossible to solve efficiently with a classical computer.

To teach basic quantum operations, the course features a drag-and-drop simulator that follows the user throughout the course and off-loads mathematical heavy lifting so it’s easier to focus on the quantum learnings. Brilliant’s circuit simulator allows self-learners to solve quantum circuit puzzles, peek inside the quantum state at any point along the simulation, and get a feel for the operations that a quantum computer may be able to perform.

“Such experimentation with full knowledge of a quantum state is a great way to learn the tools of the trade, but to really program a quantum computer, you need to follow quantum rules where observing the quantum state can destroy it,” says the company. “That’s where Microsoft’s Q# programming language comes in. Brilliant incorporates the Q# language into Quantum Computing so that programmers can modify and construct quantum algorithms.”

Q# also enables users to quickly prototype quantum programs in tandem with a classical programming environment. Using Q#’s new Python integration within the Brilliant course, users call Python to implement the classical side of an algorithm and call Q# to run the quantum side – all in a single coding environment in their browser.

Q#’s integration with Python, says the company, provides a glimpse into the future of quantum computing: a classical computer that can leverage quantum hardware for particular problems, in much the same way that GPUs are currently used to speed up the solutions of ray tracing or machine learning problems.

By the end of the course, which is expected to take between 16 to 24 hours, users will appreciate how a difficult classical problem can be translated into a quantum representation, and experiment with the reality of quantum computation. Quantum Computing also illustrates how quantum hardware may enable large-scale quantum chemistry simulation, by taking learners through the efficient preparation and manipulation of highly-entangled states which are prohibitively costly with classical computers.

For a limited time following the announcement of the course, the first two chapters of Quantum Computing – including an interactive introduction to coding in Q# – will be available to all registered Brilliant users for free.

Microsoft Quantum
Brilliant

Related articles:
Microsoft debuts free quantum programming learning exercises
Microsoft unveils free Quantum Development Kit preview
Microsoft: Quantum computing moves closer to reality
2018 to mark ‘new era’ for quantum computing, says report


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