Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Microsoft to start teaching quantum computing (helping solve life’s problems)

Learning how to code can end up making you money if you’re able to come up with an app that can get on the top ten, but what if you’re keen to code something bigger than that?

There’s a new type of computer on its way, and it has the potential to do big, big things.

No, it’s not a new kind of phone, though we’re sure we’ll see a few of those in the new year soon. Rather, it’s a field called “quantum computing”, and it’s a style of computer design that changes the hardware and software from working through the binary translation we tend to do now to a new type of language, working with bits.

While the standard binary we use today is represented by 0 or 1 — on or off — quantum computing represents both 0 and 1, and can represent both at the same time, being on and off. These bits of data are called “qubits”, and help quantum computers to be up to 100 million times faster than anything you have due to the complexity of how quantum computing can work.

And that means when paired with the right hardware and software, quantum computing can process more and do it faster, solving problems that high-performance computing is designed for in a shorter amount of time. The sort of problems, no less, that we might be struggling to deal with.

It might sound like this sort of technology is a way off in the distance, but there’s some interesting news, and it’s particularly curious if you’ve been keen to give yourself a project to do over the summer: you can now learn quantum computing.

Call it a way of getting ahead of everyone else, because that’s kind of what Microsoft is currently offering, releasing a preview of its Quantum Development Kit including the Q# programming language, built specifically to handle quantum computing.

Now this may not necessarily be the right topic for kids learning to code, and there are plenty of other great projects and pieces of software out there to teach kids what they need to learn the language that is code development, but if they’re already speaking some of the language, Microsoft’s Quantum Development environment is interesting because it will provide a basis of learning a new language that can do some very new things, solving problems that are bigger than mere app development.

Microsoft says this could include breakthroughs in artificial intelligence to get computers to recognise things, with language and image recognition possible, while the idea of quantum teleportation makes it possible for data to appear at the exact same time as something else, potentially speeding computers up immeasurably.

“The hope is that you play with something like teleportation and you get intrigued,” said Microsoft’s Krysta Svore.

“It seems like there’s a huge amount of potential there, and we’re just scratching the surface,” she said.

Long story short: if The Hitchhiker’s Guide’s Deep Thought was built using quantum computing, they might have the question for the answer (42) long ago.

Microsoft’s Quantum Development Kit is available now for download, and arrives with documentation and code examples to get you started.

Read next