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Microsoft Quantum Development Kit Goes Open Source

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Microsoft has recently made its Quantum Development Kit (QDK) open source in an effort to make “quantum computing and algorithm development easier and more transparent for developers”, Microsoft says. Microsoft QDK includes the Q# compiler, quantum libraries, and the quantum simulator.

Microsoft announced its Quantum Development Kit at its Ignite conference at the end of 2017 and later made it available to developers as a preview. As a previous step to releasing the whole SDK, Microsoft published on GitHub a collection of samples and katas with the aim of helping developers get acquainted with its quantum language, Q#, and how to integrate it with “classical” F# and C# code using Visual Studio.

Q#, whose compiler is part of the open-source QDK along with command line tools and the Q# language server, is a domain-specific language tailored to work with qubits, quantum operators, and other useful quantum abstractions. When using it with Visual Studio, you can set breakpoints and step into code as well as seamlessly integrate with Microsoft quantum simulator.

Both the Q# compiler and language server are based on .NET Core and their build environment is dependent on PowerShell, which is also available on GitHub. Q# libraries contained in the open source QDK include Canon, which is part of Q# standard library, and Chemistry, used to implement quantum chemistry and Hamiltonian simulation.

The quantum simulator is part of the Q# Runtime Components repository, which along with the sources for several simulators —such as Q#, code generation, and full-state simulators— also includes project templates and unit testing support.

Microsoft is also at work on its own quantum processor, which has not been announced yet, though. With its quantum processor, Microsoft is pursuing a novel approach, exploring the idea of topological qubits. Topological qubits do not store information in a specific place. Instead, information is stored globally, within the qubit topological structure, like it happens with a string. The main advantage of this approach, according to Microsoft, is more efficient error correction, which is a limiting factor to scaling current quantum processors.

For a quick start with Microsoft QDK, you can follow the official installation guide.

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