Microsoft has unveiled a new programming language and other tools for quantum computers the futuristic tech at its Ignite conference. The company make it easier to do mainstream computing on the complex machines.
Microsoft’s programming language doesn’t have a name yet, but the company already has plans for quantum computing in AI. In particular, it thinks that the machines could be used to train its Cortana digital assistant in days instead of months. “Even if everything else was the same, Cortana would improve 30 times faster,” Microsoft’s research Chief Craig Mundie says.
Microsoft is effectively building a language for computers that don’t really exist yet. The most advanced experimental machine. A 16/17 qubit model the more qubits, the faster the machine, was built by IBM and has run over 300,000 experiments. It’s far from being ready for commercial applications, though. However, Big Blue recently unveiled an initiative to build commercial quantum computers called IBM Q, and has already released its own programming tools via an API called the IBM Quantum Experience.
To get quantum computing working more quickly, Microsoft’s star theoretical researcher, Michael Freedman is trying to build both the hardware and software for a “topological quantum computer”. To that aim, he has recruited “some of the world’s preeminent condensed-matter and theoretical physicists, materials scientists, mathematicians and computer scientists,” Microsoft says.
Microsoft is also working on the computer itself, but to get programmers up to speed. It’s releasing the programming tools for developers and computer scientists. “The same code that you’re running today in simulation you can run tomorrow on our quantum computer,” says quantum computing software lead Krysta Svore.
Individual users can simulate problems that require up to 30 logical qubits, while enterprise customers get 40 qubits of power. Moreover, Developers without quantum expertise can actually call quantum subroutines, or write sequences of programming instructions. Working up to writing a complete quantum program, Microsoft says.
It might be awhile before commercials computers are ready. As they currently require near-absolute zero temperatures to remain in a stable state. Meanwhile, considering how tough it is to wrap your head around the concepts.
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