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Developing a quantum computing-ready global workforce

At Microsoft Quantum, our ambition is to help solve some of the world’s most complex challenges through the world’s most scalable quantum system. Recently, we introduced Azure Quantum to unite a diverse and growing quantum community and accelerate the impact of this technology. Whether it’s algorithmic innovation that improves healthcare outcomes or breakthroughs in cryogenic engineering that enable more sustainable systems design, these recent advancements across the stack are bringing the promise of quantum to our world, right now.

In December 2018, the United States Congress signed the National Quantum Initiative Act – an important milestone for investing the resources needed to continue advancing the field. As recognized by the Act, education on quantum information science and engineering needs to be an area of explicit focus, as the shortage of quantum computing talent worldwide poses a significant challenge to accelerating innovation and fully realizing the impact quantum can have on our world.

Leaders across both public and private sectors need to continue working together to develop a global workforce of quantum engineers, researchers, computer and materials scientists, and other industry experts who will be able to carry quantum computing into the future. Microsoft has been collaborating with academic institutions and industrial entities around the world to grow this quantum generation and prepare the workforce for this next technological revolution.

Empowering the quantum generation through education

Earlier this year, Microsoft partnered with the University of Washington to teach an introductory course on quantum computing and programming. The course, led by Dr. Krysta Svore, General Manager of Microsoft Quantum Systems, focused on the practical implementation of quantum algorithms.

Students were first introduced to quantum programming with Q# through a series of coding exercises followed by programming assignments. For their final project, student teams developed quantum solutions for specified problems – everything from entanglement games and key distribution protocols to quantum chemistry and a Bitcoin mining algorithm. Several students from this undergraduate course joined the Microsoft Quantum team for a summer internship, further developing their new skillsets and delivering quantum impact to organizations around the world.

Krysta Svore and Jennifer Lilieholm in quantum lab at University of WashingtonKrysta Svore and Jennifer Lilieholm in quantum lab at University of Washington
Dr. Krysta Svore and student Jennifer Lilieholm in a quantum lab at University of Washington

On the heels of this hands-on teaching engagement, Microsoft has established curriculum partnerships with more than 10 institutions around the world to continue closing the skills gap in quantum development and quantum algorithm design. This curriculum is circling the globe, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Roorkee and Hyderabad, India.

Partner universities leverage Q#, Microsoft’s quantum programming language and associated Quantum Development Kit, to teach the principles of quantum computing to the next generation of computer engineers and scientists.

“The course material extended to us by Microsoft is concise and challenging. It covers the necessary mathematical foundations of Quantum Computing. Simulation on Q# is quite straightforward and easy to interpret. Collaboration with Microsoft has indeed captivated students of IIT Roorkee to get deeper insights into Quantum Technology.”

Professor Ajay Wasan of IIT Roorkee, Department of Physics

Q# integrates with familiar tools like Visual Studio and Python, making it a very approachable entry point for undergraduate and graduate students alike.

 “I integrated Microsoft’s Q# into my UCLA graduate course called Quantum Programming.  My students found many aspects of Q# easy to learn and used the language to program and run four quantum algorithms. Thus, the curriculum partnership with Microsoft [has] helped me teach quantum computing to computer science students successfully.”

– Professor Jens Palsberg of UCLA, Computer Science Department

Microsoft has also partnered with Brilliant to bring quantum computing to students and professionals around the world via a self-serve e-learning environment.

a GIF of Microsoft's Brilliant quantum curriculuma GIF of Microsoft

This interactive Quantum Computing course introduces students to quantum principles and uses Q# to help people learn to build quantum algorithms, simulating a quantum environment in their browsers. In the last six months, more than 40,000 people have interacted with the course and started building their own quantum solutions.

Accelerating quantum innovation through cross-industry collaboration

Recently, Microsoft enrolled into the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C), which aims to enable and grow the United States quantum industry.

QED-C was established with support from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as part of the federal strategy for advancing quantum information science. Through the QED-C, Microsoft partners with a diverse set of business and academic leaders to identify and address gaps in technology, standards, and workforce readiness facing the quantum industry.

We look forward to continuing our academic and cross-industry collaborations in developing a quantum workforce to tackle real-world scenarios and bring this revolutionary technology to fruition.

Request to be an early adopter of Azure Quantum and incorporate Q# and the QDK in your quantum curriculum.

Are you currently a student interested in joining Microsoft Quantum as an intern? Apply to our open research intern positions today!

Other ways to get involved:

Learning resources:

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Mass navigation: How Ford is exploring the quantum world with Microsoft to help reduce traffic congestion

By Dr. Ken Washington, Chief Technology Officer, Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company

Our connected world has helped billions of people improve their lives in numerous ways such as offering instant access to information, enhancing health care, providing new ways to watch movies or experience music, and equipping our homes with smart speakers.

Yet with all these advancements, many of us find ourselves stuck in more traffic, not less. The fantastic navigation technology that anyone can use and helps us more efficiently get places simply does not have the power to coordinate traffic on a mass scale.

But could it? Through a joint research pilot, Ford and Microsoft scientists have simulated thousands of vehicles and their impact on congestion by leveraging powerful quantum-inspired technology. While we’re still in the early stages of quantum computing development, encouraging progress has been made that can help us take what we’ve learned in the field and start to apply it to problems we want to solve today, while scaling to more complex problems tomorrow.

Julie Love, senior director at Microsoft leading their quantum computing business development, says, “Quantum computing has the potential to transform the auto industry and the way we move. To do that we need to have a deep understanding of the problems that companies like Ford want to solve, which is why collaborations like these are so important.”

Our researchers teamed up in 2018 to develop new quantum approaches running on classical computers already available to help reduce Seattle’s traffic congestion.

During rush hour driving, numerous drivers request the shortest possible routes at the same time, but current navigation services handle these requests in a vacuum. They do not take into consideration the number of similar incoming requests, including areas where other drivers are all planning to share the same route segments, when delivering results.

Just imagine a family trying to get ready for work and school in the morning with similar departure times. If an individual day planning app gave each person the quickest way to get going, there likely would be a bottle-neck at the bathroom. Now scale that to a family of thousands…

Instead of this type of individualized routing, what if we could develop a more balanced routing system — one that could consider all the various route requests from drivers and optimize route suggestions so that the number of vehicles sharing the same roads is minimized? That sounds great — and could potentially save everyone time, not to mention aggravation — but one major roadblock towards balanced routing is the fact that it would require extensive computational resources.

Simply put, it’s not feasible to have traditional computers find the optimal solution from a huge number of possible route assignments in a timely manner. That’s where quantum computing can help. Essentially, existing digital computers translate information into either a 1 or a 0, otherwise known as a bit. But in a quantum computer, information can be processed by a quantum bit (or a qubit) that can simultaneously exist in two different states before it gets measured. Upon measurement, however, either a 1 or a 0 appears randomly and the probability for each is governed by a set of rules called quantum mechanics.

This ultimately enables a quantum computer to process information with a faster speed. Attempts to simulate some specific features of a quantum computer on non-quantum hardware have led to quantum-inspired technology — powerful algorithms that mimic certain quantum behaviors and run on specialized conventional hardware. That enables organizations to start realizing some benefits before fully-scaled quantum hardware becomes available.

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Microsoft scientist Dr. Matthias Troyer accepts Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics for quantum contributions

This week, Dr. Matthias Troyer, a Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft, accepted the 2019 Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics – one of the most valuable German prizes in the field – for his groundbreaking contributions to the development of quantum Monte Carlo algorithms.

Presentation of the Hamberg PrizePresentation of the Hamberg Prize
Dr. Matthias Troyer receives the 2019 Hamburg Prize for Theoretical Physics

“In Professor Troyer, we are honoring a scientist whose work connects myriad areas of physics and computer science. On account of his current research in the field of quantum computing, he partners with universities and companies in the US and around the world. He has also set up an open-source platform in order to share his knowledge. By awarding the prize to Professor Troyer, we also wish to recognize this contribution to collaborative research,” explained Dr. Nina Lemmens, Member of the Executive Board of the Joachim Herz Stiftung.

Dr. Troyer works at the interface between computer science and theoretical physics and is one of just a handful of leading international researchers in this field. Monte Carlo algorithms can predict how tiny particles will interact within quantum mechanical many-body systems such as atoms and molecules, and Dr. Troyer’s work in this area is playing a key role in the research and ongoing development of quantum computers and superconducting materials.

When asked about what this honor means to him, Dr. Troyer said, “One reason I came to Microsoft and why I want to build a quantum computer is that when inventing these Monte Carlo methods, we made big breakthroughs, but we also encountered a fundamental problem of Monte Carlo simulations of quantum systems, the so-called  ‘sign problem.’ The workaround becomes exponentially difficult; a quantum computer will help us move past these barriers.”

With the recent Microsoft announcement of Azure Quantum, teams will soon be able to experiment running algorithms like Monte Carlo against both classical hardware in Azure and quantum hardware from partners, knowing these solutions will scale to future quantum systems as well.

The prize not only comes with a grant, but also entails research visits to Hamburg that will see Dr. Troyer give talks and work closely with doctoral candidates, postdocs, and other colleagues.

Dr. Troyer continued, “I’m looking forward to engaging the academic community in discussing and further advancing what we can do with quantum computing. As we think of quantum algorithms for material science, what problems can we solve now with quantum simulations? And how do we develop quantum algorithms to run once we have a fully scalable quantum computer?”

“The connection to Hamburg means that we can engage with the academic and scientific communities, and with that, I look forward to talking to the people in Hamburg – and around the world – about applying quantum systems and quantum computing to make an impact on material science problems.”

Microsoft and the Azure Quantum team congratulate Dr. Troyer on this significant recognition, and we look forward to supporting his important work in making an impact in solving some of the world’s toughest challenges with quantum computing.

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Introducing Azure Quantum: our next step in delivering quantum impact

At Microsoft Quantum, our ambition is to help solve some of the world’s most complex challenges through the world’s most scalable quantum system.

To deliver on that promise, we’ve been working together with a global quantum community to innovate across every layer of the quantum stack – from applications and software down to control and devices.

  • Leading cryptographers at Microsoft Research are developing quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms and protocols to prepare customers and data centers around the world for a quantum future.
  • Developers are already contributing to the growing quantum community through Q# and our open source Quantum Development Kit, which today has more than 200,000 downloads.
  • Recently, Microsoft’s Quantum Lab located at the University of Sydney made breakthroughs in qubit control technology that allow us to scale beyond the physical limitations of current conventional systems. We now have the ability to control up to 50,000 qubits through simply three wires, a cryogenic CMOS design, and a 1cm2 chip computing at near absolute zero temperatures.
3 photos of Cryo Control3 photos of Cryo Control
Cryo-CMOS Technology. Image on left courtesy of The University of Sydney, Louise M. Cooper.

These are simply a few examples of advancements across the stack that are bringing the promise of quantum to our world, right now. Today, we’re introducing our next step in delivering quantum impact: Azure Quantum.

Learn, build, and solve with Azure Quantum

Azure Quantum is a full-stack, open cloud ecosystem that will bring the benefits of quantum computing to people and organizations around the world. Together with our partners 1QBit, Honeywell, IonQ, and QCI, we’re assembling the most diverse set of quantum solutions, software, and hardware across the industry, in Azure.

  • Learn. Anyone can come to Azure Quantum to learn about quantum computing through a series of tools and learning tutorials, like the quantum katas.
  • Build. Developers can write programs with Q# and the QDK and experiment running the code against simulators and a variety of quantum hardware.
  • Solve. Customers can solve complex business challenges with our pre-built solutions and algorithms running in Azure.

With one program, you’ll be able to target a variety of hardware through Azure Quantum – Azure classical compute, quantum simulators and resource estimators, and quantum hardware from our partners, as well as our future quantum system being built on revolutionary topological qubit. As quantum systems evolve, your code endures.

Microsoft Quantum stackMicrosoft Quantum stack
Microsoft Quantum stack

Delivering quantum impact today

Customers across a wide range of industries are already seeing the impact of our quantum solutions built on the tools and services available in Azure.

In collaboration with Microsoft, Case Western Reserve University created an MRI scan that takes a third of the time of a conventional MRI based on quantum solutions running on classical hardware. These advances in speed could help doctors detect diseases earlier, develop new drugs for conditions where progress is hard to measure today, or use imaging to diagnose cancers rather than relying on invasive procedures like biopsies.

OTI Lumionics develops advanced materials for OLED displays for use in next generation consumer electronics. This includes fully transparent displays that can integrate under-display cameras. Using their quantum chemistry applications with Microsoft’s quantum-inspired algorithms running in Azure, the team was able to successfully simulate Alq3, an OLED fluorescent material, with greater accuracy than typical methods available today. These quantum solutions enabled the team to achieve simulation without the need for expensive high-performance computations or a scalable quantum system. This marks a milestone in chemistry simulation that could inspire more efficient and scalable methods of materials, chemical and drug discovery across the industry.

Recently, Microsoft partnered with 1QBit and IonQ to demonstrate end-to-end quantum computing in Azure Quantum. The team collaborated with Dow and identified a problem in which the molecular energy of a ring of hydrogen atoms had to be evaluated. Using 1QBit’s problem decomposition solution expressed in Q#, the team was able to run computation in Azure against IonQ’s quantum computer based on trapped ions. This demonstrates how Azure Quantum can start to fuel innovations across the quantum stack – from applications and algorithms down to simulators and hardware. By bringing these end-to-end capabilities into one platform, the quantum community will be able to unlock new solutions that scale to even greater impact in the future.

Join the global quantum community

We’re excited to continue collaborating with developers and organizations through Azure Quantum, which will launch in private preview in the coming months. We hope you’ll sign up to become an early adopter!

With Azure Quantum, our ambition is to empower every developer and every organization to experience quantum impact at every stage of this quantum revolution – today and tomorrow.

Request to be an early adopter on Azure Quantum and get started with our Quantum Development Kit today.

Interested in joining the Microsoft Quantum Network of partners, customers, and labs? Let us know by submitting a request.

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Microsoft, Brilliant team up to offer quantum curriculum

With the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit, getting started with quantum development is easy. Now we’re helping to make it even easier: we’ve partnered with the team of educators at Brilliant.org to teach you about quantum computing in a new way.

Brilliant has more than 8 million students and professionals worldwide learning subjects from algebra to special relativity through guided problem-solving. In partnership with Microsoft’s quantum team, Brilliant has launched an interactive course called “Quantum Computing,” for learning quantum computing and programming in Q#, Microsoft’s new quantum-tuned programming language. The course features Q# programming exercises with Python as the host language (one of our new features!). Brilliant and Microsoft are excited to empower the next generation of quantum computer scientists and engineers and start growing a quantum workforce today.

Starting from scratch

Because quantum computing bridges the fields of information theory, physics, mathematics, and computer science, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Brilliant’s course, integrated with some of Microsoft’s leading quantum development tools, provides self-learners with the tools they need to master quantum computing.

The new quantum computing course starts from scratch and brings students along in a way that suits their schedule and skills. Students can build and simulate simple quantum algorithms on the go or implement advanced quantum algorithms in Q# on the web, without ever downloading a development environment.

Basic q sharp courseBasic q sharp course

From quantum Plinko to teleportation and algorithms

Quantum Computing covers quantum information, quantum operations, and introductory algorithm design in an intuitive way. Quantum Computing, the fundamental concepts of quantum information are built up from first principles, and then by finding and addressing the points where classical intuition falls apart. The course aims to present the deep mysteries of quantum phenomena in an approachable way. For example, the course begins with a ball bouncing down The Price is Right®’s Plinko board and then—with a few added lasers—reveals an example of boson sampling, a simple problem that is likely to be impossible to solve efficiently with a classical computer.

Q# for developing quantum solutions

To teach basic quantum operations, the course features a drag-and-drop simulator that follows the student throughout the course and offloads mathematical heavy lifting so it’s easier to focus on the quantum learnings. Brilliant’s circuit simulator allows self-learners to solve quantum circuit puzzles, peek inside the quantum state at any point along the simulation, and get a feel for the operations that a quantum computer may be able to perform. Such experimentation with full knowledge of a quantum state is a great way to learn the tools of the trade, but to really program a quantum computer, you need to follow quantum rules where observing the quantum state can destroy it. That’s where Microsoft’s Q# programming language comes in. Brilliant incorporates the Q# language into Quantum Computing so that programmers can modify and construct quantum algorithms.

Q# also provides a powerful way to quickly prototype quantum programs in tandem with a classical programming environment. Using Q#’s new Python integration within the Brilliant course, students call Python to implement the classical side of an algorithm and call Q# to run the quantum side—all in a single coding environment in their browser. Q#’s integration with Python provides a glimpse into the future of quantum computing: a classical computer that can leverage quantum hardware for particular problems, in much the same way that we currently use GPUs to speed up the solutions of ray tracing or machine learning problems.

Advanced topics of quantum computing

Even before quantum systems will be sufficient to implement the most well-known algorithms at a useful scale, there may be algorithms that can take advantage of mixed classical and quantum computing. By the end of this course, students will appreciate how a difficult classical problem can be translated into a quantum representation, and experiment with the reality of quantum computation. Quantum Computing also illustrates how quantum hardware may enable large-scale quantum chemistry simulation, by taking learners through the efficient preparation and manipulation of highly-entangled states which are prohibitively costly with classical computers.

Hydrogen q sharp courseHydrogen q sharp course

To learn more

Access Brilliant’s course here. For a limited time following the release of this blog post, the first two chapters of Quantum Computing, including an interactive introduction to coding in Q# will be available to all registered Brilliant users for free.

To learn more about Q# and the Quantum Development Kit:

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Microsoft Quantum collaborates with Willis Towers Watson to transform risk-management solutions

Screen with stylusScreen with stylus

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW)—a leading global advisory, broking, and solutions company—has long used complex mathematical models to deliver great results for clients and turn risk into growth. However, some problems are still so challenging that they remain intractable with even the most advanced contemporary computational solutions.

Because of that, Willis Towers Watson has joined the Microsoft Quantum Network to partner with Microsoft to explore the ways that quantum-inspired algorithms might assist the firm with its work in the areas of risk management, financial services, and investing.  Quantum-inspired algorithms harness the power of quantum physics to solve hard computational problems in new ways. Using these techniques, Microsoft is already able to gain orders of magnitude of performance acceleration in Azure.  Once quantum computers become available at scale, even greater acceleration is possible.

“Current modelling techniques to quantify risk require a huge amount of computing power, using thousands of computers over many hours,” says Willis Towers Watson CEO John Haley. “Quantum computing offers us the chance to look at our clients’ problems in a different way. By focusing on how we would model the problems on quantum computers when they become available at scale, we are able to work with Microsoft to redefine the problems and speed up our solutions on existing hardware.”

Engaging with our expertise in quantum computing is a natural extension of Willis Towers Watson’s long partnership with Microsoft. It already has improved business agility and productivity with the help of Microsoft’s Office 365 and developed a specialized insurance model on Azure.

“Willis Towers Watson’s ability to apply technology in novel ways to benefit their customers is always inspiring,” said Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President of Business Development for Microsoft. “We’re thrilled to have our Microsoft Quantum team working side-by-side with their experts to develop next generation modelling tools.”

This sentiment was shared by Haley, who noted: “We are excited to work with Microsoft—they have an incredible amount of brainpower and are on the forefront of quantum computing.”

The addition of Willis Towers Watson to the Microsoft Quantum Network is the latest example of Microsoft working with world-class institutions to apply the techniques of quantum computing to real-world problems. For instance, we have partnered with Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) to show how the power of quantum computing could enhance Case Western’s approach to detecting cancerous tumors. By using a quantum-inspired algorithm that runs on today’s classical computers, Case Western researchers are working to improve the diagnostic capability of magnetic-resonance imaging devices, a key tool used for detecting and fighting cancer.

We’re also working with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) on developing new quantum-based solutions to address energy optimization and other challenges where classical computers have serious limitations.

Microsoft is pioneering the emerging quantum era through an approach that will deliver the industry’s most stable and scalable quantum computer. As the development of the quantum computer progresses, select partners such as Willis Towers Watson can access new quantum-inspired Azure services through membership in the Microsoft Quantum Network for the most complete, end-to-end quantum programming.

While there is still much work to be done, Willis Towers Watson and Microsoft are excited to see just how quantum-inspired solutions will help transform the way financial industries improve risk management.

To learn more about the Microsoft Quantum Network, visit the Microsoft Quantum website.

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New self-paced learning tools make quantum programming more approachable

With the most recent Quantum Development Kit release, we’ve focused on empowering our users to get engaged with quantum development. The new release: 

  • Makes it easier to learn quantum computing with the quantum katas notebooks. 
  • Adds more consistent and concise Q# syntax. 
  • Refactors to focus on helping users find what they want and contribute their code. 

Building upon the Jupyter Notebook integration that we shared with you last month, we now extend the support to our quantum katas – self-paced tutorials on quantum computing. Today’s update means that new Q# developers can experience our self-paced learning tools without having to install the Quantum Development Kit. With this update, we’ve made quantum programming approachable for people with any level of experience.

Quantum katas in jupyter notebookQuantum katas in jupyter notebook

You can try out the kata notebook yourself hosted online, or you can also find a list of other kata notebooks for you to try at our open source Quantum Katas repository.   

Q# makes it easy to think in terms of quantum algorithms and quantum applications. As we continue to evolve the world’s first high-level quantum programming language to meet the needs of scalable quantum program development, we’re also taking the opportunity to make it even easier to express quantum algorithms in Q#.   

With this release, we are adding new capabilities to the Q# language itself.  For example, we added an operator “w/”, a new way to express array creation as a modification of an existing array.  We have also added a shorthand way to express specializations of quantum operations (e.g.: Controlled and Adjoint) and new shorthand, (e.g.:, “w/=, +=)  for common statements. These changes not only improve the developer’s ability to express quantum algorithms, but they will also lead to more efficient code generation on quantum devices. 

Visual Studio and Visual Studio code users will also now see the familiar light bulb icon that recommends fixes for build problems.   

jupyster lightbulb in quantum katasjupyster lightbulb in quantum katas

We have optimized the layout of our libraries to enable the exciting growth that we are seeing from our team and the larger quantum community. As more developers contribute their ideas and Q# code, the new layout helps developers learn and re-use code faster. Learn about these and other new features in the Quantum Development Kit update release notes.

Finally, please take a look at our developer blog this week as we publish a series of more in-depth blogs about each of these new capabilities.    

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Newly formed Northwest Quantum Nexus aims to accelerate quantum information science

The Northwest is brimming with talented, dedicated people who can deliver quantum computing advances today and secure our quantum future for tomorrow. Today, at the inaugural Northwest Quantum Nexus Summit, we announced the Northwest Quantum Nexus, a coalition assembled by three keystone partners: Microsoft Quantum, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the University of Washington.

In line with the goals of the National Quantum Initiative Act, the Northwest Quantum Nexus accelerates Quantum Information Science (QIS) to develop a quantum economy and workforce in the greater Pacific Northwest region of the United States and Canada. The high concentration of quantum activity in the Northwest makes it one of the top regions globally to address key QIS needs. The goal of the two-day Summit this week is to bring together the region’s experts who can define the region’s potential to drive quantum computing’s future.

Its objectives include:

  • Bringing together academia, government, startups, and industry to pursue multi-disciplinary QIS research to deliver scalable quantum computing.
  • Pursuing quantum computing via collaborative research and development, targeted quantum algorithms and programming, and the development of quantum materials.
  • Capitalizing on public-private partnerships to promote a rapid exchange of knowledge and resources and drive discoveries in quantum technologies.
  • Applying research outcomes to application areas and testbeds, including clean energy and sustainability.
  • Cultivating the future quantum workforce through programs that range from early to higher education and professional levels, as well as the corresponding network of institutions and outlets offering curriculum and training opportunities.

“The Northwest Quantum Nexus represents another big step toward the development of scalable, stable quantum computers,” says Todd Holmdahl, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Quantum. “The partnership just makes a lot of sense – we’re already one of the top regions in the world for quantum research, and the Nexus will help us leverage that expertise to build a quantum-ready workforce and boost the region and nation’s quantum ecosystem.”

Microsoft Quantum Computing Project in Delft, The Netherlands. June 2018
Todd Holmdahl, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Quantum

The Northwest Quantum Nexus intersects with another complementary, broad-based initiative led by Microsoft, the Microsoft Quantum Network. Both the Northwest Quantum Nexus and the Microsoft Quantum Network were begun with the understanding that creating a scalable quantum computer will require the collective effort of many skilled and diverse teams. Just last week, Microsoft hosted the Microsoft Quantum Network’s first Startup Summit.

Creating a regional quantum powerhouse

The Northwest Quantum Nexus partnership unites considerable intellectual talent. The University of Washington is one of the top research institutions in the world. It recently established UW Quantum X, which joins existing research endeavors across the university in QIS, including quantum sensing, quantum computing, quantum communication, and quantum materials.

Recently, in a partnership of Microsoft Quantum researchers and the University of Washington faculty, we identified opportunities to ready students with quantum computing programming skills and an understanding of quantum algorithms. Microsoft researchers now teach quantum computing programming and algorithm development with the Q# programming language, giving students a head start in developing quantum solutions.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s (PNNL) QIS program includes capabilities in algorithm development and programming, as well as expertise in materials synthesis and characterization, quantum chemistry applications, quantum sensing, and workforce development – all fields are seeing tremendous advances today due to the power of a quantum computer.

Microsoft has recently collaborated with PNNL on the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit chemistry library. The library can be used in conjunction with NWChem, an open-source, high-performance computational chemistry tool funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.   With the state-of-the-art tools provided in the Quantum Development Kit – including resource estimation, algorithm programming, debugging and simulation – this collaboration enables chemists to develop quantum chemistry solutions for a quantum computer, and better understand what that solution can look like today.

As for Microsoft, we’ve been driving advances in quantum computing and software development for 15 years. We see the power of quantum computing as solving some of the world’s most challenging problems for a wide range of industries – healthcare, environmental sciences, financial services, auto engineering, and others. Our team of experts in quantum physics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering have partnered with universities, industry, and government on cross-cutting research to advance our scalable qubit approach across the globe.

Researcher working on quantum hardware

The prominence of the Northwest Quantum Nexus is expected to increase the visibility of QIS research, leading to even greater collaboration and drawing quantum talent – trainees and employers – to the U.S. Locally, the Northwest Quantum Nexus will help position the greater Pacific Northwest region as a global leader for creating and sustaining an exceptional quantum workforce and economy.

Says Krysta Svore, General Manager for Quantum Software at Microsoft: “The Northwest Quantum Nexus is a pivotal element to making scalable quantum computing a reality. It enables the type of synergistic research and development needed to deliver critical technological advances from quantum algorithms and programming to materials design and development.”

Visit the Northwest Quantum Nexus web site to learn more about this important coalition.

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Announcing the Microsoft Quantum Network

Creating a scalable quantum computer will require the collective effort of many skilled and diverse teams. To reach that goal, over the past few years we have built a coalition of partners, universities, customers, and developers, all with the goal of sharing knowledge and collaborating with the best quantum innovators 

Today  at our inaugural Startup Summit – we’re formalizing that coalition as the Microsoft Quantum Network. This global community of individuals and organizations will work directly with Microsoft to advance quantum computing, develop practical applications, and build the quantum workforce of the future.    

“The Microsoft Quantum Network is our commitment to establishing the partnerships required to build the quantum workforce and the quantum economy, Todd Holmdahl, Corporate Vice President of Azure Hardware Systems Group at Microsoft, said during the summit. We believe both are vital to solving some of the world’s toughest problems.

Todd Holmdahl speaking to the Microsoft Quantum Network
Todd Holmdahl, Corporate Vice President of Azure Hardware Systems Group at Microsoft, speaking to the Microsoft Quantum Network

We’ve previously announced partnerships with some of the world’s leading startup talent in quantum software and algorithm development. Today we welcome two new partners: 

  • HQS Quantum Simulations develops quantum algorithms for predicting molecular properties for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. 
  • Rahko is a quantum machinelearning company developing scalable quantum chemistry solutions for near-term quantum computers and beyond.  

HQS Quantum Simulations and Rahko will join other quantum startups who are working closely with Microsoft to build practical applications and accelerate the adoption of quantum computing.  Quantum Network startups also benefit from a partnership with Microsoft for Startups to help them grow their businesses, build innovative solutions, and connect to valuable resources. 

Other segments of the Microsoft Quantum Network are: 

  • Affiliate organizations have engaged directly with Microsoft to advance their expertise in quantum computing and jointly develop solutions that benefit their organization and industry. Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), and Pacific Northwest National Labs (PNNL) are examples of organizations collaborating with us on many solutions in the areas of optimization and chemistry.    
  • Centers dedicated to research, development, and educational excellence have partnered with Microsoft to pursue the advancement of quantum computing. Today we’re performing quantum research alongside some of the best and brightest minds at Purdue UniversityUC Santa Barbarathe University of CopenhagenTU Delft, and the University of Sydney. At these locations, we’ve established Microsoft Quantum Labs where our research teams are advancing Microsoft Quantum research goals while also serving as scientific collaborators and partners with the quantum community. 
  • Developers and organizations have created their own quantum algorithms and applications with our free resources, including the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit, tutorials, Q# librariessamples, and workshops. Developers have now downloaded the Quantum Development Kit more than 100,000 times. 

If you or your organization are interested in becoming a member of the Microsoft Quantum Network as a startup or affiliateclick here to tell us about yourself. 

It will take a diverse set of skills across academia and industry to help develop the world’s first scalable quantum computer and quantum applications.  We are excited to bring together the best minds in quantum computing.  Together, we will bring this vision to life and shape the future of the quantum workforce and economy.

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Test your quantum programming skills in the Microsoft Q# Coding Contest

Whether you’re new to quantum computing and want to improve your skills, or have done quantum programming before and need a new challenge, we have just the thing for you: The second Microsoft Q# Coding Contest. Designed to help developers ramp up quickly in quantum computing and quantum programming, this contest will help participants build the expertise they’ll need to be ready for the advent of true quantum computing.

Organized in collaboration with Codeforces.com, the contest will be held March 1-4, 2019. It will offer the participants a selection of quantum programming problems of varying difficulty. In each problem, you’ll write Q# code to implement a transformation on qubits, or perform a more challenging task. The top 50 participants will win a Microsoft Quantum T-shirt.

This contest is the second in a series that began last July. The first contest offered problems on introductory topics in quantum computing: Superposition, measurement, quantum oracles, and simple algorithms. This second contest will take some of these topics to the next level as well as introduce some new ones.

For those eager to get a head start in the competition, a warm-up round will be held February 22-25, 2019. It will feature a set of relatively problems and focus on helping participants become familiar with the contest environment, the submission system, and the problem format. The warm-up round is a great introduction to quantum programming, both for those new to Q# or those looking to refresh their skills.

Another great way to prepare for the contest is to work your way through the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit katas. The katas allow you to test and debug your solutions locally, giving you immediate feedback on your code.

Katas measurements in Visual Studio

Q# can be used with Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code or command line, on Windows, macOS or Linux, providing an easy way to start with quantum programming. Any of these platforms can be used in the contest.

We hope to see you at the second global Microsoft Q# Coding Contest!