07 January 2018
Programmers are now busy writing new programming languages for quantum computers.
The most recent one comes from Microsoft, which has developed Q# (Q sharp). It joins a growing list of other high-level quantum programming languages such as QCL and Quipper.
Krysta Svore, principal research manager in quantum computing at Microsoft, says that quantum computing languages are needed because the ones written for today’s computers won’t work for quantum ones. Quantum computers use quantum bits or “qubits” which can effectively encode one and zero at the same time, creating enormous amounts of parallel processing power. But to fully exploit that power, developers will need quantum languages to help them create software that takes full advantage of the computers’ capabilities.
Quantum computing languages have limitations which don’t exist in classical programming languages. For example, quantum programs can’t have loops in them that repeat a sequence of instructions.
To deal with such issues, Q# works in conjunction with a couple of classical languages. Developers without quantum expertise can write their main programs in familiar languages and then use a Q# program when they want to engage quantum processing power.