What is Quantum Computing?
Quantum computing makes use of quantum mechanics to design computers capable of tackling problems that cannot be solved by traditional supercomputers. For example, problems related to logistics can be incredibly difficult and time-consuming to solve with supercomputers.
The seemingly simple exercise of finding the best arrangement of ten entities around a table has to query over three million options. Quantum computers can create the large multidimensional spaces required to represent the large problems and their solution sets. The machines use quantum bits or qubits to store data in quantum form.
While classical bits are binary in nature, qubits are not limited to holding a 1 or 0 and can contain a superposition of all possible states. Characteristics of quantum physics like superposition, quantum interference, and entanglement are used with new programming techniques to provide computational results.
Quantum computers are comprised of three basic components:
- An area to house the qubits;
- A method to transfer signals to the qubits;
- A traditional computer to run programs and send instructions.
Investigative areas that benefit from the use of quantum computers include:
- Quantum machine learning;
- Simulating quantum systems like photosynthesis and superconductivity;
- Solving problems in cryptography;
- Optimizing complex systems.
Quantum computers offer the potential to find solutions to some of the most intransigent computational problems facing humanity.
An Overview of Microsoft’s Azure Quantum
In February 2021, Microsoft announced that Azure Quantum was available for business. Azure Quantum is a full-stack, public cloud ecosystem that offers customers the power of quantum computing without the capital expense of housing a system themselves. The platform promises users the ability to harness the power of quantum innovations using familiar tools.
Microsoft offers many features and educational materials designed to facilitate the study and use of quantum computing. Some examples of the resources available to anyone interested in taking advantage of quantum computing include:
- The Quantum Development Kit for Q# is an open-source solution that uses the high-level Q# programming language to develop quantum applications. The kit integrates with more familiar tools like Visual Studio and provides a Python package designed to help solve optimization problems.
- Microsoft’s learning paths include extensive materials that provide users with a solid foundation in the theory and practice of quantum computing.
- Azure Quantum also enables users to explore quantum cloud solutions developed by industry leaders including Honeywell, Toshiba, Microsoft, and IONQ. A range of quantum computing and optimization algorithms are available from a unified development interface.
Customers interested in examining the power of quantum computing can try Azure Quantum for free and a sliding-scale pricing structure enables resources to be tailored to their specific needs. It’s a viable platform from which to learn about and harness the benefits of quantum computing.