Microsoft and Brilliant collaborate to launch interactive course on quantum computing

Nearing the end of 2017, Microsoft released the first public preview of its Quantum Development Kit (QDK) for Windows, later announcing support for Linux and macOS. Although the tech giant believes that getting the hang of quantum development is easy through the QDK, it is now making it "even easier" by partnering up with Brilliant.org to offer a new course on quantum computing.

Aptly dubbed "Quantum Computing", the course is centered around the learning of programming in Q#, Microsoft's high-level, quantum-tuned programming language. In what can seem a daunting field, the course will provide self-learners with an idea of where to begin. The curriculum is also designed in such a manner that it is not resource-intensive and does not disrupt students' schedules. As such, they can learn how to simulate some relatively simpler quantum algorithms on the go, while the more complex ones can still be implemented on the web - without the additional requirement of downloading a development environment ever arising.

Quantum phenomena are said to have been presented in such a way that they are more approachable. Basic operations can be undertaken through a simple drag-and-drop simulator, giving students a chance to focus more on quantum learnings as opposed to quite advanced mathematical concepts. In keeping with the aforementioned approachable nature, Microsoft believes that by the end of the course, students will be able to easily comprehend and understand the need for the translation of a difficult classical problem into a quantum representation.

Various ways in which Q# proves to be an integral part of this course have been highlighted by Microsoft in the following manner:

"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."

The first two chapters of the course, along with an interactive introduction to coding in Q# are available to registered Brilliant users for an unspecified 'limited' time period. You can begin the course and also learn more about it here. Interestingly, Microsoft announced earlier this month that it would be open-sourcing the QDK in GitHub this summer.

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