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Developers are Embracing Quantum Computing

September 9, 2020
Developers are Embracing Quantum Computing

Quantum computing has been the subject of speculation and anticipation since quantum algorithms and experiments into quantum computations first appeared in the 1960s. However, it hasn’t been until recently that quantum chipsets or quantum computers have been available to software developers. This spring Evans Data Corp explored this exciting field in our biannual Global Development survey.

Whereas classic computing deals with bits in 1s and 0s, quantum chips provide qubits, which can exist in 1 and 0, as well as a superposition of both states. Due to this, coding for quantum computing needs to take into account this superposition, and there are issues with that. Consider Schrodinger’s famous cat. The cat is in a sealed box with a vial of poison that will kill the cat if it’s shattered. Quantum mechanics implies that the cat is in a superposition and is thus simultaneously alive and dead until someone opens the box and observes the cat as being either dead or alive, which in turn implies that when the quantum superposition ends, as it does with observation, reality collapses into just one possibility. The fact of observation, or measurement, compels this change.

Quantum computing also represents a new form of hardware, and leads to the use of languages that are more similar to hardware description languages (HDLs) in how they manipulate quantum circuits. Also, due to the specialized nature of quantum computers and the apparatuses needed to cool quantum circuits enough to ensure stability, quantum computers continue to be rare and (up until recently) inaccessible.

However, some vendors now provide developers with access to quantum computers via the Cloud. This has helped spur a vigorous interest in quantum computing.

In our latest Global Development survey, conducted in the late spring, we look at how familiar software developers are with quantum computing, what their intentions are toward the technology, how they view the nascent landscape and what issues they foresee.

For one thing, two thirds say they are already familiar with the concepts of quantum computing, even though far fewer have tried any of the cloud services or simulators that major players in the market are now making available. Of those who have explored those services, Microsoft, IBM and Google are the vendors most likely to have been visited, but the relative popularity of each varies considerably by region. There’s other differences as well, such as in their roles, what they feel is needed to bring quantum into their own development efforts, and what issues they see, but one thing that’s very strong across all regions is the belief that one day quantum computing will eventually take over the mainstream computing scene.

Although it’s a science in it’s infancy – the future looks very bright indeed.

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