IBM Q announces a host of new tools geared towards making quantum computing more accessible

Image via IBM Research

IBM has been one of the most active champions of quantum computing throughout the last decade. Last month, the company demoed the world's first quantum computing-safe drive and announced its plans to roll out a series of quantum-safe cryptography services for IBM Cloud beginning 2020.

Now, IBM Q, which is IBM's dedicated initiative to make quantum computing more accessible for the general public, has announced a series of new quantum computing tools and technology at the TechCrunch Enterprise in San Francisco today. Among the new releases are additions to the IBM Q Experience hardware with 5-qubit quantum computers, a university hackathon partner program, a series of video tutorials teaching Qiskit, and an open-source textbook.

The new 5-qubit quantum computers add to IBM's repertoire lining up behind the 20-qubit System One, which was unveiled at CES in January earlier this year. The new systems will be geared towards providing dedicated computational power for educational training and research. Specifically, they will be available on the cloud for the IBM Q Researcher program participants and IBM Q Network organizations. Vis-à-vis the upgrades to the hardware, Jay Gambetta, who co-leads the team at IBM Thomas J Watson Research Center, wrote:

We are rolling out new systems and a new feature that allows for reserving time on an IBM Q system through the IBM Q Experience. This will initially be available to members of the IBM Q Network. Members will be able to reserve blocks of uninterrupted time for their users to experiment and test ideas using our advanced systems and software. Moreover, educators and academic members can take advantage of scheduling time to dynamically demonstrate quantum computing concepts on our hardware in the classroom. All the while, students can use the IBM Q Experience to follow along directly from a web browser without any additional installation required.

For new programmers stepping into the field of quantum computers, IBM Q has released both an open-source textbook titled, Learn Quantum Computation using Qiskit, and a series of video tutorials called Coding with Qiskit, on YouTube. Together, the book and the tutorials are not only meant to elucidate the theory behind the working of a quantum computer but also provide a practical introduction to Qiskit, which is an open-source quantum computing software development kit.

Since the book is open source, it will be frequently updated with contemporary and novel quantum computing skills by top researchers who are involved in quantum computers and will also include problem sets that can be assigned as part of coursework. Dr. Javad Shabani, Assistant Professor of Physics and Shabani Lab Principal Investigator at the New York University and co-author of “Learn Quantum Computing Using Qiskit” commented on the book:

I believe that developing a “live” textbook for teaching quantum computing in academic classes is not only important but also essential to have a state-of-the-art education on a dynamic and fast-paced topic. This textbook provides a great opportunity for those who do not have a strong background in quantum mechanics to connect with cutting-edge topics in quantum computing in the shortest possible time.

The video series, Coding with Qiskit, will be taught by Abe Asfaw, who is a Developer Advocate at IBM Q:

Furthermore, as part of the University Hackathon Partnership Program announced today, universities will be able to partner with IBM Q to host a hands on, collaborative Qiskit experience for budding quantum computing students and aspiring researchers. IBM Q has also made strides to set the blueprint for a number of other events for students, teachers and enthusiasts of quantum computing alike:

  • The IBM Q Award Challenges, hosted online in partnership with Angelhack, are semester-long competitions on various topics including Qiskit-based course materials, research papers, videos or games. These awards are open to all students, educators, and developers.
  • Through our expanded University Hackathon Partnership Program, universities can now partner with our global teams to host a hands-on, community-building Qiskit experience in which their quantum developer students will get to collaborate with IBM Q experts while developing their own quantum software programs.
  • The 2019 Qiskit Camps, to be held in Europe, Asia, and Africa, are ideal events to not only learn more about Qiskit but meet fellow passionate Qiskitters while competing as teams from all corners of the world.

With these novel tools, IBM is confident that it will usher in a new era of quantum computing by acclimatizing generations of students, researchers, educators, and developers to the technology, ultimately transitioning quantum computers from a niche machine to the definitive future of computing.

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