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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Launches Azure Quantum Development Kit 1.0

Microsoft Launches Azure Quantum Development Kit 1.0

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Microsoft recently announced the 1.0 release of the Azure Quantum Development Kit (QDK), a significant rewrite of the prior QDK, emphasizing speed, simplicity, and a browser experience for developers. QDK is mostly rewritten in Rust, which compiles to WebAssembly for VS Code or the web and native binaries for Python.

QDK can be installed across platforms and is 100 times faster than the previous version, according to the company; it contains a debugger and resource estimator in the editor and is integrated into Azure Quantum Service.

The QDK extension for VS Code works directly in the Web version (browser) or when installed through an instance of VS Code on a machine. Once the extension runs, developers can open a Q# file (with a .qs extension) and start coding.  

Coding Q# in a VS Code instance (Source: Microsoft Dev blog post)

The Q# editor offers capabilities such as completion lists, auto-opening of namespaces, signature help, hover information, go-to definition, rename identifier, syntax and type-checking errors, and additional functionalities. In addition, the QDK provides a debugger allowing developers to set breakpoints, step in and out of operations, and view both the quantum and classical state as they step through the code.

Current quantum hardware faces practical limitations, marking the era known as "Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum." This phase is regarded as Level 1 in the roadmap to a quantum supercomputer. The industry is progressing towards Level 2, aiming to enable the utilization of "logical qubits" on real hardware. Numerous factors, such as qubit types, error correction schemas, layout & connectivity, etc., determine how a program using logical qubits maps to physical resource requirements. Over the past year, Microsoft built numerous capabilities into their Azure Quantum service to assist with Resource Estimation. Several of those capabilities are available in the current 1.0 release of QDK. Moreover, the company will continue to invest in adding capabilities for developers & researchers throughout the quantum stack. The available "Calculate Resource Estimates" command provides developers with estimates for various qubit types and other parameters.

Resource Estimation (Source: Microsoft Dev blog post)

In a Microsoft Q# blog post on the resource estimator, the authors write:

Whether developing applications, researching algorithms, designing language compilers and optimizers, creating new error correction codes, or working on R&D for faster, smaller, and more reliable qubits, the Resource Estimator helps you assess how your theoretical or empirical enhancements can improve the whole stack.

Finally, the QDK extension enables developers to connect to a Quantum Workspace in their Azure Subscription through VS Code. They can directly submit their Q# program from the editor to one of Microsoft's hardware partners, see the status of the jobs, and download the results when completed. 

Lastly, more QDK and Azure Quantum service details are available on the documentation landing page.

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