Microsoft brings Mac and Linux support to its Quantum Development Kit

Slew of updates include additional open source libraries and interoperability with Python

quantum computing

Microsoft has announced a slew of updates to its Quantum Development Kit, including support for macOS and Linux as well as additional open source libraries and interoperability with Python.

Redmond said the updates should enable more developers and platforms to take advantage of the power of quantum computing.

"At Microsoft, we believe quantum computing holds the promise of solving many of today's unsolvable problems and we want to make it possible for the broadest set of developers to code new quantum applications," said Jeff Henshaw, group program manager of the Quantum Software division, in a blog post.

Microsoft delivered its quantum programming language, the Quantum Development Kit in December, touting better integration with Visual Studio, and extensive libraries and samples.

"Since then, thousands of developers have explored the Quantum Development Kit and experienced the world of quantum computing, including students, professors, researchers, algorithm designers, and people new to quantum development who are using these tools to gain knowledge."

The new updates are being made available today, including support for Mac- and Linux-based development, which Henshaw said have been the firm's most requested features from developers.

"We're thrilled to deliver support for building Q# quantum applications on macOS and Linux, including integration with VS Code and quantum simulation support," he said.

The update also brings open-sourced libraries of the source code for its Q# community as well as interoperability with the Python programming language.

"Many developers have existing libraries of code in Python so we wanted to give them easy access to that functionality from Q# without having to port anything," Henshaw added. "Available as a preview on Windows today, Python interoperability allows Q# code to call Python routines directly, and vice-versa."

Microsoft's update will also bring faster simulator performance by up to four or five times, giving developers a much faster testing and optimisation loop, especially on simulations involving 20 or more qubits.

All the features are available as part of the update from today, Microsoft said.

 12/12/2017: Microsoft asks developers to build quantum apps for a computer that doesn't exist

Microsoft has launched its Quantum Development Kit - even though a quantum computer doesn't even exist yet.

The company said it's been designed for those who want to start writing applications for the super-powered computer even if they're not quantum physics experts.

"The hope is that you play with something like teleportation and you get intrigued," said Krysta Svore, a principal researcher at Microsoft who has led the development of the quantum software and simulator. "The beauty of it is that this code won't need to change when we plug it into the quantum hardware."

The live preview of the API includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computing simulator and other resources such as the documentation, libraries and sample programs developers need to get started.

Microsoft has also released an Azure-based simulator that can simulate more than 40 logical qubits of computing power - perfect for running larger-scale quantum calculations compared to the regular quantum simulator.

All of these resources give budding developers the tools they need to start creating quantum computing applications and many will be transferable to the topological quantum computer that Microsoft is currently developing.

"What you're going to see as a developer is the opportunity to tie into tools that you already know well, services you already know well," said Todd Holmdahl, the corporate vice president for Microsoft's quantum project.

"There will be a twist with quantum computing, but it's our job to make it as easy as possible for the developers who know and love us to be able to use these new tools that could potentially do some things exponentially faster which means going from a billion years on a classical computer to a couple hours on a quantum computer."

Microsoft hopes supporting quantum computing will help data scientists develop solutions to some of the world's biggest challenges, such as world hunger or climate change that need huge calculations to be processed quickly.

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