Hybrid computing just got a little easier
IBM today released a breakthrough library of quantum computing algorithms that allow classical computer applications to run on quantum computers.
QISKit ACQUA (Algorithms and Circuits for Quantum Applications) is built on QISKit, an open source quantum software framework created by IBM.
While classical computers operate, at the lowest-level, through circuits that use ANDs and ORs and NOTs and XORs – binary gates – quantum computers use different kinds of gates like CNOTs and Hadamards, which require unique instruction and algorithms.
Although IBM recently updated its quantum computer (Q Experience) front-end interface, domain specialists would still need to know how to write a quantum programme, or use someone else’s programme such as those in QISKit’s github repository, to use it.
The new release aims to help broaden access.
Making Quantum Computing Easier… Relatively
Quantum computing is a completely new computing paradigm for which a classical education can’t prepare you, and IBM has been vociferous in trying to prepare people for it.
Explaining the release in a blog today, IBM’s Bob Sutor, Vice President, IBM Q Strategy & Ecosystem wrote: “Let me start by explaining the quantum software stack, and where QISKit and ACQUA fit.”
“At the lowest level is the hardware where the qubits sit at the very cold temperature of 15 mK. The qubits receive microwave pulse signals for a calculation, which have been translated and converted from OpenQASM, IBM Q’s low-level assembly language, by QISKit. Users… can write programs directly in OpenQASM, but it’s easier to use libraries in higher level languages. That’s where QISKit comes in. It’s a front-end interface that works with Python”.
He added: “QISKit alone requires developer skills. Running experiments on the IBM Q Experience means understanding how to write a program, or using someone else’s program such as those in QISKit’s github repository.”
“So far, this approach has succeeded: More than 85,000 users have run more than four million experiments and published 80 research papers based on experiments run on the system.”
“But we were missing the contributions of domain experts – until QISKit ACQUA.”
Chemistry, AI, Optimisation
With the new toolkit (which starts by making classical chemistry, artificial intelligence and optimisation applications workable on quantum hardware or simulators) experts can run classical chemistry applications such Gaussian, PSI4, PySCF and PyQuante
While quantum computers can’t yet do anything a high-powered classical set-up can’t, the company said it sees this as an opportunity to support industry and academic collaboration “to prepare for a world where classical and quantum computers work together to better solve computationally complex problems.”