Microsoft Releases Free Preview of Quantum Development Kit

Posted December 12, 2017

After it was first revealed at the Ignite conference in September, Microsoft has now announced it is releasing a free preview version of its Quantum Development Kit. The kit includes a trace simulator to help developers optimise code to run on a quantum computer and estimate the cost of required resources.

"Our quantum development kit enables you to write programmes for these large calculations today", said Krysta Svore, principal researcher Microsoft quantum computing in an introductory video. Microsoft deeply integrated the dev kit into Visual Studio, making it familiar to people already developing applications in other programming languages.

It is created to work with a local quantum simulator, also released with the kit, which is capable of simulating roughly 30 logical qubits on a standard laptop machines. In case you're willing to push the boundaries and simulate more than 40 logical qubits, you can use an Azure-based simulator.

A preview version of Microsoft's Quantum Development Kit is available here as a free download. Microsoft calls it the most approachable high-level programming language for quantum computers.

In the simple of terms, traditional computers use binary code formed of bits, which exist in one of two states - off and on - thereby governing how data is read and computed upon in transistor arrays that make up computer hardware.

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What will quantum computers be sued for in the future? The Q# programming language was built from the ground up specifically for quantum computing. Microsoft's ambition is to build physical quantum computers using "topological qubits", a kind of quantum bit that's more resilient to unwanted influence from its environment and which, henceforth, will require fewer qubits to do useful work.

It might sound like this sort of technology is a way off in the distance, but there's some interesting news, and it's particularly curious if you've been keen to give yourself a project to do over the summer: you can now learn quantum computing.

"It seems like there's a huge amount of potential there, and we're just scratching the surface", she said.

Svore added that the kit "forms part of our differentiated approach to delivering a scalable end to end quantum system". "There will be a twist with quantum computing, but it's our job to make it as easy as possible for the developers who know and love us to be able to use these new tools that could potentially do some things exponentially faster - which means going from a billion years on a classical computer to a couple hours on a quantum computer".