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What Is Quantum Programming?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Quantum programming is a way of simulating quantum problems and algorithms within a computer space using one of several programming languages made for this task. While quantum programming relies on computer programming, it is made from the viewpoint of a scientist rather than a programmer. There are regular programming languages that can be used for this cause, but they do not readily accept quantum physics commands, so they can be unwieldy for this purpose. The algorithms may require a lot of energy to be simulated, so the computer using this language should be strong enough to make the simulation without crashing.

Researchers and scientists commonly use quantum algorithms to solve problems and for real-world applications, but solving problems on paper or through a calculator often is not as immersive as a simulation can be. With quantum programming, the user can enter an algorithm and the computer will show exactly what happens when the values are used in the real world. This can help with experiments and in the creation of products that rely on physics.

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On the outside, quantum programming may seem like any other computer programming language, but there are a few differences that enhance it for quantum physics use. For example, there are commands not commonly seen in other languages that help users input quantum algorithms. Unlike other languages that can make programs or make the computer perform many different actions, the language can only form simulations. Some common tags used in programming are changed to better comply with tags and phrases used in quantum physics.

Before quantum programming came programming languages that could partially fill this role, but there were many problems that kept them from being popular. For one, the languages were not optimized for quantum algorithms. The other major difference is that measurements and values had to be computer measurements, such as bits and pixels, which proved to be unwieldy.

Some small and basic quantum algorithms require very little energy to simulate, but the majority of simulations made through quantum programming need more energy and produce more heat than most regular computers can withstand. This means servers commonly are needed to help process the algorithm without making the computer crash. The computer also may need upgraded cooling to ensure it does not overheat, though this mostly is required for people who constantly simulate very advanced algorithms.

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