Basics of Quantum Computer Programming

For aspiring quantum programmers wondering how to get started with the game as quantum computers multiply 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 researcher 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 must grow as more quantum computers with more and more qubits become commonplace. »

In concise, stand-alone sections, the guide reviews 20 quantum algorithms, including famous fundamental quantum algorithms, such as Grover’s algorithm for searching databases and more, and Shors’ algorithm for factorizing integers. To connect to the real world, the wizard then guides programmers through the implementation of the 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 designs.

“This paper is the result of a rapid effort from the Los Alamos Institute of Information Science and Technology, in which approximately 20 laboratory staff chose to discover and implement an algorithm quantum standard on the IBM Q quantum system,” said Stephan Eidenbenz, senior quantum computer 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 mentoring employees with little or no quantum computer 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 “published” review paper, which has already been widely cited, Eidenbenz said.

The first section of the guide covers the basics of quantum computer programming, explains qubits and qubit systems, basic quantum concepts for superposition and entanglement, and quantum measurements before going into the deeper things of device transformations and gates, quantum circuits, and quantum algorithms.

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

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

Numerous references at the end of the guide will help interested readers further their exploration 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 supplied by DOE / Los Alamos National Laboratory. Note: The content can be edited for style and length.

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