by Max Shapiro Published January 24, 2019
Technology is always growing and changing, especially with respect to computing power. In recent years, computing power’s potential took a big leap forward with the announcement of Qiskit, an open source quantum computing framework that was open for public interaction. I don’t come from a quantum background, but I’m curious to learn about and interact with quantum computing, so I decided to put my novice skills to the test and learn about quantum.
As I quickly learned, programming with quantum is very different from traditional programming. As a software engineer, I thought I could treat quantum like other technology and build a “Hello World” type of program. I decided to start by reading Qiskit tutorials. After reading through the tutorials, I realized that it was not going to be that simple to create and understand an initial quick quantum program.
While trying to follow the tutorials, I came across a lot of new terminology that could take some time to fully understand. Quantum computing reminded me of low level programming with its qubits and gates. Gates are a fundamental component for building a circuit in quantum computing. These gates are different from traditional gates like AND and OR gates. I found a fun mobile game that helped me visually gain a basic understanding of quantum and the gates.
After getting a better understanding of quantum, I read some of the Qiskit documentation to get a better understanding of quantum’s basics. With this new knowledge in hand, I went back to the tutorials.
I found it more useful to start with the basic community tutorials over the Qiskit tutorials. After reviewing the community’s Hello, Quantum World tutorials, I now had a basic understanding of how these intro tutorials worked. I then read through the Qiskit basic tutorials and attempted to mimic them in the visual online editor.
When running the experiments on the simulator, my results came back right away. However, when I ran my experiments on the actual quantum computer, it took me several hours to get my results back. This is probably due to the limited number of machines and queues of requests from other people.
All in all, quantum computing, like my knowledge with it, is still fairly new but is growing everyday. It is still in the beginning stages, and continued research and usage will help evolve quantum computing. Quantum does require a different programming style and understanding from traditional programming. Hopefully, as time goes on, programming in quantum will not require such an intense understanding of the lower level components of quantum computing. This will definitely help novice quantum developers get started faster. I am excited to see what the future of quantum computing has in store.
If you’re new to quantum and not sure where to start, here’s the order of learning I recommend:
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