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Getting started with quantum computing may seem intimidating and just plain puzzling if you looked online where start, you were probably lead to the same results I did when I first started getting into quantum computing. Everywhere I looked said, to get started, I need to have some good knowledge about quantum physics, quantum mechanics, and basic linear algebra. Once I did, I needed to learn how to use Qiskit (Python library to program quantum computers) or another programming tool to start building quantum circuits and implementing quantum algorithms! And don’t let me get started on needing to learn how quantum algorithms work!
Things got very complicated very fast, which can be quite discouraging! 😖
What if I told you that you could start building quantum circuits, with only basic knowledge of basic quantum gates and without any kind of coding?
You read it correctly; we will build quantum circuits without using any code what so ever.
The way to do that is by using special tools called quantum circuit simulators. To use any of those tools, you only need to know the definition of the three basics of quantum computing, qubits, superposition and entanglement, and what some basic quantum gates do.
We will start with the basics of quantum computing:
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The Google computer engine exchanges a large number of scalable virtual machines to serve as clusters used for that purpose. GCE can be managed through a RESTful API, command line interface, or web console. The computing engine is serviced for a minimum of 10-minutes per use. There is no up or front fee or time commitment. GCE competes with Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Microsoft Azure.
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Quantum computing is one of the most rapidly advancing technologies. Many companies and research labs are racing to deliver functional quantum hardware to the market as soon as they can. It is one of those fields where every little bit of progress is a significant advancement.
At the moment, there’s no perfect quantum computer that is capable of running promising algorithms, such as Shor’s and Grover’s algorithms. However, current quantum machines are advancing rapidly. IBM speculates that during the next decade, quantum computers will offer an undeniable advantage by solving many problems that are unsolvable on a classical computer.
In 2019, IBM proposed a metric to measure how capable and efficient a quantum computer is (on the hardware side), and they called it Quantum Volume (QV). QV is a number calculated based on different factors, such as the number of qubits in the computer, their connectivity, and the measurement error probability. For us to run real-life-sized algorithms on real hardware, we need a large QV. For reference, the highest QV device owned by IBM at the moment is 32.
On the software side, some researchers predict that the market need for quantum programmers will grow exponentially over the next decade. Companies such as Google, IBM, and Microsoft are putting in considerable effort and a massive amount of funds to train the next generation of quantum researchers/ programmers.
To program a quantum computer, you don’t need an advanced degree in physics or maths. In my opinion, you just need a good imagination.
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Before we get into the good stuff, I need to tell you that quantum computers are not magical. They may seem magical, just because the fundamental math and physics behind them are somewhat complicated. But the truth is, a quantum computer is marginally better than classical computers, nothing more.
Classical computers are better at some tasks than quantum computers, such as sending and receiving emails, creating spreadsheets and other documents, and desktop publishing. Quantum computers are not meant to replace classical computers; they are just meant to solve distinct problems than those solvable by classical computers. That being said, any problem that is impossible to solve using classical computers will be impossible to solve using quantum computers.
I know what you’re thinking…
You’re probably saying, but if they only solve problems solvable on classical computers, then what’s all the hype about?
Well, quantum computers have the potential to solve some problems better, faster, and more efficient than classical computers.
Problems like what you say? Before we get into that, let’s see what classical computers can and can’t do.
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In computer science, they categorize problems according to how many computational steps it would take to solve them using the best-known algorithms. That is translated to how long it will take a computer to solve them. These categories are broad and often overlap. The most used three categories are P problems, NP problems, and NP-complete problems.
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The sounds of the keys clicked and clacked as I rushed my fingers across the laptop keyboard. I only had 30 seconds left.
“Gotta finish this fast,” I thought.
After a couple more finishing touches, I hit “Enter” and watched as a popup window appeared on-screen.
ALERT: MALWARE DETECTED! PLEASE INSTALL NEW ANTI-VIRUS UPDATE!
Beneath the popup were two buttons: “Update” and “Cancel”. Just as I had practiced.
A few moments later, I heard a door open and footsteps coming down the hallway. I shut the laptop, tip-toed to the filing cabinet across the room and began rifling through the papers, as if searching for something important.
Penny, my co-worker, strolled around the corner and made a beeline for her laptop on the counter. My pulse quickened in anticipation. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the alert materialize as she opened her laptop.
Penny said nothing as she read the alert and quickly clicked “Cancel”.I bit my tongue — the last thing I wanted was to give myself away with an unintentional titter. The silence was broken when a new alert popped-up on Penny’s screen.
WARNING: New Virus Detected! Shut Down Now!
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