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Quantum Software

[Quantum Computing - Shutterstock/Amin Van]]



- Overview

When John Preskill coined the phrase “quantum supremacy” in 2011, the idea of a quantum computer that could outperform its classical counterparts felt more like speculation than science. During the 25th (in 2011) Solvay Conference on Physics, Preskill, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, US, admitted that no-one even knew the magnitude of the challenge. “Is controlling large-scale quantum systems merely really, really hard,” he asked, “or is it ridiculously hard?”  

Eight years on (in 2019), quantum supremacy remains one of those technological watersheds that could be either just around the corner or 20 years in the future, depending on who you talk to. However, if claims in a recent Google report hold up (which they may not), the truth would seem to favour the optimists – much to the delight of a growing number of entrepreneurs. Across the world, small companies are springing up to sell software for a type of hardware that could be a long, long way from maturity. Their aim: to exploit today’s quantum machines to their fullest potential, and get a foot in the door while the market is still young. But is there really a market for quantum software now, when the computers that might run it are still at such an early stage of development?


- Two Types of Quantum Software

Quantum computing is an emerging area with significant potential, especially in the area of optimization problems. Since the quantum computing works with a different mechanism than classical computing, the software approach for quantum computing is also different. There are 2 types of quantum software: quantum software for optimization problems and classical computing software enabling quantum computing.

  • Software running quantum algorithms: Quantum software development kits and computational platforms provide solutions for end-users. These help end users develop and test their quantum algorithms.
  • Software enabling quantum computers to perform: Quantum computers have performance issues due to random errors and error-correcting software is built to correct such errors. An error-correcting software or firmware is a low-level program that increases the stability of quantum computers.

[More to come ...]



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