At its Ignite conference, Microsoft today put its stake in the ground and discussed its progress in building a quantum computer and giving developers tools to experiment with this new computing paradigm on their existing machines. There's a lot to untangle here, and few people will claim that they understand the details of quantum computing. What Microsoft has done, though, is focus on a different aspect of how quantum computing can work -- and that may just allow it to get a jump on IBM, Google and other competitors that are also looking at this space. The main difference between what Microsoft is doing is that its system is based on advances in topology that the company previously discussed. Most of the theoretical work behind this comes from Fields Medal-recipient Michael Freedman, who joined Microsoft Research in 1997, and his team.
The Future is Quantum with Dr. Krysta Svore If someone mentions quantum computing, and you find yourself outwardly nodding your head, but secretly shaking it, you're in good company: some of the world's smartest people admit they don't really understand it either. Fortunately, some of the world's other smartest people, like Dr. Krysta Svore, Principal Research Manager of the Microsoft Quantum – or QuArC – group at Microsoft Research in Redmond, actually DO understand quantum computing, and are working hard to make it a reality. Today, Dr. Svore shares her passion for quantum algorithms and their potential to solve some of the world's biggest problems, explains why Microsoft's topological quantum bit – or qubit – is a game changer for quantum computing, and assures us that, although qubits live in dilution refrigerators at temperatures near absolute zero, quantum researchers can still sit in the comfort of their offices and work with the computer programmer's equivalent of Schroedinger's Cat. Krysta Svore: The problems we're looking at solving with a quantum computer are the problems that, today, require age-of-the-universe time scales. I'm not going to be around for that solution. Some of these problems literally require billions and billions and billions of years to solve. And on a quantum computer, what we've shown in some recent research, is that you can solve some of these problems in a matter of say, weeks, days, hours, seconds. I'll be around for those solutions. A show that brings you closer to the cutting edge of technology research and the scientists behind it. If someone mentions quantum computing and you find yourself outwardly nodding your head but secretly shaking it, you're in good company. Some of the world's smartest people admit they don't really understand it either. Fortunately, some of the world's other smartest people, like Dr. Krysta Svore, Principle Research Manager of the Microsoft Quantum, or QuArC, Group at Microsoft Research in Redmond, actually do understand quantum computing and are working hard to make it a reality. Today, Dr. Svore shares her passion for quantum algorithms and their potential to solve some of the world's biggest problems, explains why Microsoft's topological quantum bit – or qubit – is a game-changer for quantum computing and assures us that although qubits live in dilution refrigerators at temperatures near absolute zero, quantum researchers can still sit in the comfort of their offices and work with the computer programmers equivalent of Schrödinger's Cat. Your research revolves around quantum algorithms.
Microsoft executive Todd Holmdahl has led teams to invent profitable new computing hardware products before. His latest project is his first with a chance of hauling in a Nobel Prize in physics as well as new revenue if it succeeds. Holmdahl previously oversaw the hardware design of the Xbox and Xbox360 consoles, which rake in billions for Microsoft each year. Late last year he was appointed the leader of a swelling band of mathematicians, physicists, and engineers trying to add mighty computers powered by quantum physics to Microsoft's menu of cloud computing services. Holmdahl speaks about quantum computing like a tech executive would a new line of business, not a speculative physics or R&D project.
When one of the first personal computers, the Altair 8800 came along in 1976, Microsoft was ready with a programming language, Altair BASIC. It wants to be equally prepared when quantum computers go mainstream, so it has unveiled a ne programming language and other tools for the futuristic tech at its Ignite conference. You'll still need to understand Qubits and other weird concepts, but by integrating traditional languages like C# and Python, Microsoft will make it easier to do mainstream computing on the complex machines. Quantum computing is famously difficult to grasp -- even IBM's "Beginner's Guide" is laughingly opaque. In discussing Microsoft's new initiatives, Bill Gates called the physics "hieroglyphics," and when asked if he could describe it in one sentence, Satya Nadella said "I don't think so.