Azure Quantum – Quantum Computing
If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.
Nature isn’t classical, dammit, and if you want to make a simulation of nature, you’d better make it quantum mechanical and by golly it’s a wonderful problem, because it doesn’t look so easy.
If the man himself said so, we ought to take his word on it. Richard Feynman contributed throughout his life to the progress of our knowledge on quantum mechanics, gave us the integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the Feynman diagrams and was a large part of the development of the atomic bomb during World War II also known as the Manhattan Project.
From pop culture references such as in Marvel Movies like Antman (which might not exactly be a possible and accurate interpretation of the reality) howsoever we can say Yes, Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Physics is a complex topic but it is equally beautiful and profound. Even the only way to beat the purple titan Thanos was using the sci-fi Quantum Technology in the movie. No one can doubt, it’s amazing. And for the technology enthusiasts like us, we always look forward to making the jump ship in order to enhance the current state of the art technology and computing technology can benefit hugely with this upgrade.
Introduction of Quantum Computing
The quantum mechanical phenomena are extended to the world of computing by Quantum Computing which can be understood as a completely brand-new paradigm of algorithmic study. The initial quantum computer (quantum circuits) was proposed by Richard Feynman himself. Both the complexity and capability that quantum systems can provide in the long run can be seen as the record throughout history and one such instance is the quantum system which Feynman dearly wished to simulate but could not be modeled by even a massively parallel classical computer. This showcases how obsolete classical computer would feel like once the Quantum Computing becomes a new normal over the decades.
Rise of Quantum Mechanics
Let us consider, the probability calculations in a multiple particle system.
If we have two electrons that are constrained to be at two points (let us say, A and B), then there are four possible probabilities of their location (which are both at A, both at B, one at A – one B, one at B – and one at A and so on). Now, if we calculate for three electrons, there are eight probabilities. And for 10 electrons, there are 1024 probabilities, and at 20 electrons there is a whopping 1,048,576 different probabilities. Howsoever, the measurements get out of hand for traditional physical systems with millions of electrons. Our research into quantum computer began decades ago and it has had strong growth with even technology giants like Google and Microsoft contributing it along with the long-term goals for the field of quantum computing which have now also arisen.
What is Quantum?
Quantum is basically a term that comes from the study of Quantum Mechanics.
We can take Quantum Mechanics as a branch of modern physics and as that field of physics that tackles the physical properties of nature on an atomic scale that experiences interaction and forces at macro-scale. At the level of the infinitesimally small particles i.e., sub atomic scale, the same principles of physics which govern our daily lives no longer apply as the rules are flipped and at a quantum scale, classical mechanics is insufficient with wave-particle duality where the objects are functioning as both waves and particles.
In a quantum environment, the value of a physical quantity can be predicted prior to its measurement if we are given the set of initial conditions as per following Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle where Quantum Mechanics provides us with four new phenomena. These are quantization, entanglement, the principle of uncertainty, and wave particle duality.
Representation of Quantum Particles
The states in a quantum mechanical system are symbolized as state-vectors and it is not too difficult to realize that every quantum system has its own complex, separable Hilbert space. These possible states are basically points in the projective space of a Hilbert space. Simply put, we can say that the quantum particles can obtain the discrete eigenvalues of the Hilbert space since the eigenstate of the observable corresponds to the eigenvector of the operator.
Quantum Mechanics is Probabilistic
Quantum Mechanics is mainly all about the concept of measurement and the state of a system at a given time is described by a complex wave function due to wave-particle duality. In a quantum system, all we can do is only measure probabilities of the results of experiments.
Let us take an instance, we could only measure the probability of an electron being in region X of the electron cloud. We cannot determine precisely the single position or location but only talk in terms of the probability.
What are Quantum Computers?
Quantum computers are machines that use the properties of quantum physics to store data and perform computations which can be extremely advantageous for certain tasks where they could vastly outperform even our best supercomputers that functions on the classical method. The classical computers, such as our laptops and smartphones; they encode information in binary “bits” that can either be 0s or 1s whereas in a quantum computer, the basic unit of memory is a quantum bit or qubit.
The physical systems such as the spin of an electron or the orientation of a photon make up the Qubits where these systems can be in many different arrangements all at once, a property which is commonly known as quantum superposition. Moreover, the Qubits can also be inextricably linked together using a phenomenon called quantum entanglement and the result is that a series of qubits can represent different things simultaneously. Currently, the quantum computers are highly sensitive i.e., prone to electromagnetic fields, heat and collisions with air molecules which can cause a qubit to lose its quantum properties. This process is known as quantum decoherence and it causes the system to crash, which happens more quickly as more particles gets involved.
We can understand Superposition as the ability of a quantum system to be in multiple states simultaneously.
Entanglement is a quantum property that takes objects and connects them by permanently entangling them together and this is what quantum computer is mainly based on. When we add an additional qubit to a quantum computer, a 30-qubit quantum machine examines two to the power of 30 states simultaneously and with this increase in power plus the entanglement of qubits allows quantum computers to solve problems efficiently and thus find a solution faster with fewer calculations.
Interference is mainly used to control quantum states and thus amplify the signals which are leading toward the right answer while at the same time canceling the signals that are leading to the wrong answer.
Quantum computers are extremely sensitive to noise and environmental effects and unfortunately, information only remains quantum for so long and thus the number of operations that can be performed before the information is lost, therefore, is limited. Hence, knowing in advance how long quantum information will last before it is out of coherence is extremely critical.
Using the power of Quantum, Microsoft has come out with the service to provide the reach of Quantum Computing to general public and this has been done via cloud-based service, Azure Quantum.
Azure Quantum is a service provided by Microsoft enabled through the power of cloud service Azure to solve problems using quantum technology.
Azure Quantum provides the paths to quantum solutions in two offerings.
One can prototype with different quantum hardware providers in order to learn and experiment and thus be ready for the future of quantum machines. With Azure Quantum Computing solutions can be made using a variety of hardware technology making it a full-proof investment for long term.
Solutions for diverse fields from finance to energy cost management and scheduling can be performed using the Optimization path offered by Azure Quantum which helps develop solutions that can reduce the cost of operation.
The Quantum solutions are designed using the Quantum Development Kit Toolset in order to program the quantum algorithms and optimization solutions.
Quantum Development Kit (QDK)
Using the Quantum Development Kit which is provided as open-source by Azure Quantum, durable quantum applications can be built for the Quantum hardware. Optimization problems can be formulated in order to run them on large-scale machine that are hardware accelerated. This is mainly the development Kit for the Q# language. Moreover, with the unified development interface, one can use it in multitudes of hardware.
Moreover, using the fully featured QDK the developed applications can be run on different environments and be compiled using standalone applications like Jupyter Notebooks using Python and .NET languages too.
Q# – Quantum Programming Language
The Q# is a high-level programming language focused mainly on Quantum which offers a modern approach and intuitive outlook to design and develop quantum programs. Using Q# and Quantum Development Kit, quantum programs can be developed only focusing on the algorithm and application level.
Thus, in this article, we learned about Quantum Computing and then dove into some details about Azure Quantum. We initially got introduced to Quantum Computing, about the rise of Quantum Mechanics and got deeper into the particle physics aspects of it, how Quantum Particles are represented, the probabilistic nature of Quantum Mechanics and also learned about the basics of Quantum Computers. We then discussed about the service provided by Microsoft – Azure Quantum that enables cloud-based service to different solutions for quantum problems using quantum technology.