Fundamentals of Quantum Computer Programming – ScienceDaily


For aspiring quantum programmers wondering how to get started in the game as quantum computers proliferate and become publicly available, a new beginner’s guide provides an in-depth introduction to quantum algorithms and how to implement them on existing hardware.

“Writing quantum algorithms is radically different from writing classical computer programs and requires some understanding of quantum principles and the mathematics behind them,” said Los National Laboratory scientist Andrey Y. Lokhov. Alamos and lead author of the guide recently published in ACM Transactions on Quantum Computing. “Our guide helps quantum programmers get started in the field, which is set to grow as more quantum computers with more and more qubits become commonplace.”

In succinct, self-contained sections, the guide reviews 20 quantum algorithms, including famous fundamental quantum algorithms, such as Grover’s algorithm for searching databases and more, and Shor’s algorithm for factorization of whole numbers. Making the connection to the real world, the guide then walks programmers through implementing algorithms on IBM’s publicly available 5-qubit quantum computer IBMQX4 and others. In each case, the authors discuss the implementation results and explain the differences between the simulator and real hardware executions.

“This paper is the result of a rapid response effort by the Los Alamos Institute of Information Science and Technology, where approximately 20 lab personnel self-screened to discover and implement an algorithm quantum standard on the IBM Q quantum system,” said Stephan Eidenbenz, senior quantum computing scientist at Los Alamos, co-author of the paper and director of ISTI when the work began.

The goal was to prepare the Los Alamos workforce for the quantum age by guiding staff members with little or no quantum computing experience through the implementation of a quantum algorithm on an actual quantum computer, Eidenbenz said.

These staff members, in addition to a few students and well-established quantum experts, make up the long list of authors of this “crowd-published” review paper that has already been widely cited, Eidenbenz said.

The first section of the guide covers the basics of quantum computer programming, explaining qubits and qubit systems, fundamental quantum concepts of superposition and entanglement, and quantum measurements before getting into the deeper stuff of unit transformations and gates, quantum circuits and quantum algorithms.

The IBM Quantum Computer section covers the set of gates available to algorithms, the actual physical gates implemented, how qubits are connected, and sources of noise or error.

Another section examines the different types of quantum algorithms. From there, the guide dives into the 20 selected algorithms, with a problem definition, description, and steps for implementing each on the IBM or, in a few cases, other computers.

Numerous references at the end of the guide will help interested readers further their explorations of quantum algorithms.

Los Alamos National Laboratory Institute of Information Science and Technology as part of the laboratory-led research and development program.

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Materials provided by DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


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