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Azure Quantum learning resources enable getting ready for a quantum supercomputer 

Each day, the excitement and innovation around quantum computing grows. At the same time, it will require much more to reach the scale that’s required of a quantum supercomputer to truly accelerate scientific discovery in new ways and solve some of our world’s most challenging problems. To go from today’s foundational-level quantum machines to tomorrow’s scaled quantum supercomputers requires activating and compounding our collective genius. And it also requires, as an industry, acknowledging that there is still a lot of necessary work and invention to be done to achieve practical and advantageous applications of quantum computers.

We recently shared our roadmap to a quantum supercomputer, and announced that we’ve achieved the first milestone on that roadmap, creating and controlling Majorana. With this breakthrough, we demonstrated the physics necessary to create a new type of qubit that is small, fast, and digitally controllable—all of which are required to advance to a fault-tolerant, scaled machine, and critically, to unlock the path to a quantum supercomputer.

Reaching practical quantum advantage will require progressing across three quantum computing implementation levels. Today, all quantum computers are at the first level, Foundational, with machines made of noisy physical qubits (referred to as “NISQ” devices). As quantum computers progress, we’ll move to the second level, Resilient, with machines made of 10s to 100s of reliable qubits (called “logical” qubits, each consisting of many physical qubits), and ultimately to the third level, Scale, with programmable quantum supercomputers capable of truly demonstrating useful quantum advantage. Our recent physics breakthrough is the first step towards advancing to the next level.

Blog levels

Understanding what it takes to progress through these levels is crucial not just for measuring industry progress, but also for developing a robust strategy to build a quantum-ready community. After all, it will not be due to scientific and engineering innovations alone that we will be able to achieve scale—ultimately it will be thanks to the many people globally that make it happen. The road to scale will be galvanized by more diverse minds coming together around the table to accelerate graduating from one quantum computing implementation level to the next.

In pursuit of empowering more people with quantum knowledge, at IEEE Quantum Week and Quantum World Congress, we’re excited to announce the availability of new learning resources, including the Azure Quantum katas: free, AI-assisted interactive tutorials to accelerate quantum computing learning and exploration. These resources build on the tools and platforms we’ve been developing for years in the Azure Quantum team, and enable learning not only for foundational quantum hardware available today, but also for the scaled quantum supercomputers of tomorrow.

Becoming a quantum mechanic: new resources for skilling and exploration

So, what are Azure Quantum katas and why try them?

Several years ago, I taught a quantum algorithms and programming course at the University of Washington with Mariia Mykhailova, Principal Software Engineer at Microsoft Quantum. We were eager to introduce students to quantum computing and empower them with the knowledge of how to write quantum programs. Students learned how Q# programs could express complex quantum algorithm designs and were asked to explore quantum algorithms with quantum advantage and write their own programs that might run on fault-tolerant quantum supercomputers. We wanted students to really understand how to programmatically express quantum algorithms at scale, and that as an industry we’d have to move beyond NISQ devices to truly unlock the power of quantum computing.

But learning to program a quantum computer requires developing quantum fitness—starting small, gaining strength in the concepts, and eventually commanding the techniques. There’s also value in having a coach right alongside. And so, with this in mind, we built the course curriculum around an open-source project of exercises, called katas, which we released the year before and expanded to support the course. Students could solve the exercises, implement their solutions as Q# code and get immediate feedback, in turn allowing them to learn through practice, and subsequently develop their own more-complex quantum programs. Excitingly, some of those students liked it so much they joined us for internships, and one became a member of our quantum team. Several students also contributed additional katas to the project. Our collaboration with the University of Washington continues and through mentored projects, other students went on to develop Q# programs to understand just how many resources a quantum algorithm may need.

Witnessing the impact of katas firsthand led us to ask how we could bring these learning tools to a larger audience. This is why we’re excited to bring these exercises to even more people globally, directly in the browser, to start on or continue their quantum learning path.

The Azure Quantum “katas” are free, self-paced programming exercises that teach the elements of quantum computing and the Q# programming language (the Japanese word for “form”, a “kata” is a pattern for practicing and learning new skills). Each kata begins by explaining theory and concepts related to a quantum computing topic. These are followed by short, interactive coding exercises to help test your knowledge. The exercises are fully contained within the browser, no Azure subscription is required. These tutorials can help expand your knowledge of quantum computing and programming, starting with fundamentals such as qubit manipulation, and progressing to more advanced topics such as quantum algorithm development. Perhaps best of all, the new tutorials are integrated with Copilot in Azure Quantum, a natural language chat interface to help you learn quantum concepts and programming faster than ever before.

These kata exercises build on a continuum of tools already within Azure Quantum to empower people across all levels of expertise. For developers already familiar with quantum coding, Azure Quantum’s Resource Estimator is another tool that allows you to create and refine quantum solutions to run on future, scaled quantum machines by modelling how many qubits will be needed to run an application, how long it will take to run, and which qubit technologies will be better suited to solving a specific problem.

Get started with Azure Quantum today

  • Whether you’re starting your own learning journey, exploring quantum hardware, or developing quantum algorithms for the future, Azure Quantum offers a platform for your quantum exploration and innovation—you can also read the peer-reviewed research demonstrating that we’ve achieved the first milestone of our quantum roadmap.
  • For enterprises interested in accelerating scientific discovery today, you can learn more about the recently announced Azure Quantum Elements, Microsoft’s system for computational chemistry and materials science combining the latest breakthroughs in HPC, AI, and quantum computing.

Learn more at IEEE sessions and workshops

We are excited to connect with you during IEEE Quantum Week 2023, to answer your questions and explore the possibilities for advancing your quantum research and development with Azure Quantum.

Please join us live or online at the following panels, workshops and tutorials:

Connect with the Azure Quantum team at Quantum World Congress 2023

If you are interested in connecting with us during Quantum World Congress 2023, join us live or on-demand online for our session:

  • Wednesday, September 27, 2023: 1:30 PM EST

Session: How our collective genius can unlock growth and progress with Quantum, with Dr. Krysta Svore in the Main Theatre at Capital One Hall in Tysons, VA.