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As we close out another year and another decade, many pundits will be thinking about the next decade and what technological and scientific breakthroughs we can look forward to. A lot can happen in 10 years and the excitement in the speed of innovation with developments like the web, mobile and communications has many excited. Imagine 10 years in the development of the web – we went from cutesy home pages to full-blown e-commerce. We might disagree about exactly what the future looks like, but how do you ensure you can still find work and employment in the new landscape?
Quantum Computing: The New Industry
Companies around the world are busy looking at how they can employ quantum computing. They are looking at how innovations in this nascent field can help do a variety of things from optimisation to drug discovery. Organisations and research establishments are also looking into the fundamentals of creating quantum computing: the qubit and improving fidelity, as are numerous start-ups across the planet from London to Toronto to Tokyo. The focus of those start-ups ranges from more applied research to more fundamental research right into how one can create the very technology and fundamental science that facilities just about everything else.
Right now there is fledging industry developing the tools and technologies. Some of which are emerging from larger tech giants such as Amazon, IBM, Google etc and also from start-ups dedicated to Quantum technologies. So whether your natural inclination is for smaller-scale companies or larger technology companies, there is likely a place that suits you culturally.
Getting into Quantum Computing
Sadly many have traditionally be put off learning about Quantum mechanics and quantum physics by the very difficult nature of the often un-intuitive way the quantum world works. But for many they’ll be pleased to know that whilst it can be an advantage to know about the fundamentals of quantum mechanics, many people can learn the basics of Quantum Computing without needing to go to graduate school. You might need to get to grips with some maths, but you don’t have to dedicate years of study to it.
One of the best places to learn quantum computing and how to program a quantum computer is online. As the world moves to more remote living (thanks to covid), you can make learning quantum technologies as easy as possible by taking one of the online courses available. Of course, each of these courses and is tailored to different purposes, such as programming, physics fundamentals or quantum mechanics. The focus is up to you – but we know a lot of potential learners are interested in learning how to program a quantum computer.
Quantum programming – the future of coding?
The most popular aspect of the field is rather akin to classical coding. Learners from around the world are taking to opportunity to learn how quantum computers work by programming them. As you’d expect, just like classical computing, there are many languages that programmers can use.
As an interesting aside, it is rather surprising how many programming languages are still in use today despite being created decades ago. FORTRAN stands for “Formula Translation” and it is still in use for specific applications despite originating in the 1950s. That’s not the only language: C and C++ are relatively ancient coming from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Even more “modern” languages such as Python hark back to the early ’90s. So despite radical advances in hardware technologies covering everything from processors to storage languages have steadfastly remained fairly conservative.
Quantum programming might therefore be quite a safe bet. Learning the languages and skills now might well be skills that are required for a long time to come. Plus those languages will likely offer an insight into the basis (no Quantum pun) of quantum computing and thus be transferrable to other quantum languages. Researchers around the planet are trying to increase the number of physical qubits that are available to the program, but despite this likely increase in the number of qubits, the languages (just like the classical world) could remain fairly static.
Start Learning Quantum Programming and more
That means there should be no impediment to learning quantum programming right now. It’s often free or low cost to learn with expert instructors from around the world from the worlds best institutions. We’ll outline some amazing quantum courses that can really help you get to grips with the field. But first, you should think about what you want to learn or at least focus. We know some can jump right into learning programming without any physics but others will want to understand physics first. We lump courses into four categories: 1) Quantum Programming 2) Quantum mechanics and Quantum physics 3) Allied Quantum tech (Quantum Internet etc) and 4) Quantum Machine Learning.
Quantum Programming Courses
- Brilliant Quantum Course. This course will introduce you to quantum thinking and quantum circuits. Direct and to the point. Brilliant (QZ gets commission for purchases) are, well brilliant at helping individuals learn in a way that can maximize their potential. If you have not already got an account and subscription, please do consider signing up as there are more reasons to, especially now with courses in quantum computing which introduce the fundamentals of gate based quantum computers. Even if you have some understanding of Quantum principles this course is well worth pursuing to brush up on your Quantum skills. You can start learning for FREE and if you enjoy it, get a subscription. They do more than just Quantum Computing. This course is a collaboration with Microsoft and Google (Alphabet) X, so you are in safe hands in terms of the pedigree of the instructors and the information. There is a lot more content planned specifically to Algorithms and Quantum Circuits, so this could be a very direct way into the field, providing you everything you need to program your first Quantum Computer. Currently there are over 400 concepts taught in this Quantum Computing programme.
- Qiskit. This is one of the most popular quantum languages. Open source, but originated from IBM, there are number of courses and summer schools around for learners to get exposure to the Qiskit language. One way is to dive into the material already as a self study. Or choose one of the courses. Here is an online Qiskit tutorial. The IBM Q service uses this and you’ll be in safe hands as Qiskit has become a “default” language that experimenters and researchers use.
- Programming a Quantum Computer with Qiskit from Coursera. This is a 2-hour long guided project, where the learner will understand how to write code for an actual Quantum Computer and execute it in both the simulated environment and on the actual Quantum Device. The course uses Coursera’s hands-on platform called Rhyme. On Rhyme, you do projects in a hands-on manner in your browser.
- Quantum Computing Fundamentals from EdX and MIT. This is a paid course from MIT delivered by some of the most well known people in the field. However it is not inexpensive and mainly designed for executives. The course has great content, and would suit learners who want to understand more about the impact of Quantum Computing as well as the fundamentals.
- Q#. Microsoft created their own language for anyone to program a Quantum Computer. Whilst that language has been pioneered by Microsoft, it is supported by Microsoft but remains open-source, which means that it can adapt to the latest research and innovations. Designed from the ground up, but at the same-time familiar, Q# is a friendly intuitive way to build quantum circuits. For classical programmers out there, they might recognize the ‘#’ moniker which is how Microsoft has been naming its new generation fully object orientated languages such as C# and F#. You can learn more about the learning with Microsoft’s own self learning course.
- D-wave tutorial. D-wave’s quantum annealers work in a different way compared to the gate based systems of IBM, Google etc. But they can solve interesting nonetheless. To learn more about D-wave and Quantum annealing you can seek out the online tutorials from D-wave.
Learn about the Quantum Internet
- The Quantum Internet and Quantum Computers: How Will They Change the World? A great course for those who are new to Quantum Computing and the Quantum Internet. The course from TU-Delft, one of the leaders in the Quantum Computing world. You can audit the course for FREE of course or pay to get a certificate (which is typically less than 50$). We are proud holders of the certificate at QZ and we enjoyed the course very much. What can we say, other than good things, it covers the fundamentals of the Qubit, how Quantum Hardware works and how the Quantum Internet could be a game-changer (something they pioneer at Delft).
Learn about Quantum Machine Learning
Machine Learning is Taking the world by storm and Quantum Machine Learning is how to use Quantum circuits in the quest to make machines learn and perform smart things like image recognition, label or even cluster data.
- Quantum Machine Learning from EdX. Peter Wittek’s Excellent course on Quantum Machine Learning is accessible through the EdX MOOC platform. This is really for advanced learners who have a good grasp of maths and less required is the physics. It’s a great course that introduces you to the world of Quantum Computing and Quantum Learning, but also to Machine Learning. Peter also has one of the first books published on Quantum Machine Learning (check out his book here if you want to learn more).
- Xanadu, one of the creators of Quantum Computers and a number of programming toolsets also have a number of great tutorials on QML (Quantum Machine Learning) using their PennyLane toolsets. They also have some of the world researchers in the field of QML.
Quantum Mechanics Courses
- Physical Basics of Quantum Computing is a course from Saint Petersburg State University of the basics of QC. Here you’ll get to drips with the basics under the hood of the qubit – such as the Bloch Sphere and how some of the gate operations work.
- The Hardware of a Quantum Computer. If you want to understand more in detail about how Qubits are created from Ions, semiconductors or photonics components then this course provides you some knowledge and insight. In detail you will learn about four of the most promising types of solid-state qubits work: superconducting Transmon qubits, Silicon spin qubits, diamond NV center qubits, and topological qubits.
Learning for Growth
We haven’t covered all courses, tutorials, and learning materials. There are many and these are growing. We have also published an article on some of the free resources for Quantum computing from around the internet.
So whether you are learning for fun (often the best way) or learning to develop new skills, the Quantum field can offer plenty of new opportunities for growth.