Microsoft's Quantum Development Kit is adding support for Linux and Mac users, the company announced in a Monday blog post. The firm is also adding net open source libraries to the kit as well as Python interoperability. With the macOS and Linux support, the power to create apps that take advantage of quantum computing is coming to even more developers. On the flip side, Microsoft gets its business capabilities in the hands of a broader audience of developers, who have increasing control over the buying process in the enterprise. "At Microsoft, we believe quantum computing holds the promise of solving many of today's unsolvable problems and we want to make it possible for the broadest set of developers to code new quantum applications," the post said.
In 1994, MIT professor of applied mathematics, Peter Shor, developed a groundbreaking quantum computing algorithm capable of factoring numbers (that is, finding the prime numbers for any integer N) using quantum computer technology. For the next decade, this algorithm provided a tantalizing glimpse at the potential prowess of quantum computing versus classical systems. However researchers could never definitively prove that quantum would always be faster in this application or whether classical systems could overtake quantum if given a sufficiently robust algorithm of its own. In a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, Dr. Sergey Bravyi and his team reveal that they've developed a mathematical proof which, in specific cases, illustrates the quantum algorithm's inherent computational advantages over classical. "It's good to know, because results like this become parts of algorithms," Bob Sutor, vice president of IBM Q Strategy and Ecosystem, told Engadget.
Microsoft is accelerating its efforts to make a quantum computer as it looks to a future of computing beyond today's PCs and servers. Microsoft has researched quantum computing for more than a decade. Now the company's goal is to put the theory to work and create actual hardware and software. To that effect, Microsoft has put Todd Holmdahl--who was involved in the development of Kinect, HoloLens, and Xbox--to lead the effort to create quantum hardware and software. The company has also hired four prominent university professors to contribute to the company's research.
Quantum computing is an increasingly hot area for research and investment, with corporations like IBM, Google, Alibaba, Intel, and Lockheed Martin launching quantum computing projects aimed at bringing the technology -- meant to speed up the process of solving complex equations -- to commercial viability. In tandem with company investments, the European Union, US, and Chinese governments, among others, are also backing projects aimed at building commercial quantum computers. In the US, NASA, the NSA, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory are all involved in quantum computing projects. And in August this year, China launched the world's first quantum satellite in the quest for more secure communications. However, there are only a small number of private companies in the industry that have been able to raise over $1M, which suggests that commercial application of quantum computers -- for both hardware and software -- is nascent at this point, despite the hype.
Quantum computing is the most exciting new frontier of information technology. A universal quantum computer promises us more complete knowledge of our environment, down to the molecules that make up everything around us. And much like when the first room-sized computers were turned on in the 1940s, a quantum computer's full potential is unknown and untapped. That's why IBM is announcing the industry's first commercial program to build a universal quantum computer: we are flipping the switch on something that doesn't exist today. Quantum computing is a term that's becoming more mainstream, but its complex nature means it's not well understood beyond quantum physicists.