Researchers make steps toward debugging tools for quantum computers | 2/4/2019 | Staff
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In classical computing, debugging programs is one of the most time-consuming tasks in software development. Successful debugging relies on software development tools and also on the experience of the programmer. In quantum computing, researchers predict debugging will be an even greater challenge. In a paper soon to appear at the ACM/IEEE 46th Annual International Symposium for Computer Architecture (as part of ACM's 2019 Federated Computing Research Conferences), researchers at Princeton University present debugging tools based on statistical tests, with a goal of aiding programmers in building correct quantum programs for near-term quantum computers.

Quantum computing promises to change the computing world by offering capabilities beyond any classical computer. Those capabilities come from quantum algorithms—sequences of instructions that tell a quantum computer what to do in order to calculate some result, much like software for classical computers today. These algorithms cover a wide range of applications. For example, quantum chemistry algorithms would allow scientists to calculate properties of chemical compounds directly from the governing equations of quantum mechanics, a formidable task beyond the reach of modern computers for all but the simplest molecules. Other algorithms promise to speed up searching inside databases and to enable secure communications resistant to eavesdropping.

Decades - Quantum - Equations - Specifications - Computers

For about two decades, these quantum algorithms existed only as abstract equations and specifications, and have never actually been run on real quantum computers. That research landscape has changed rapidly. In the past couple of years, researchers have built the first prototype quantum computers capable of running quantum programs. Notably, IBM has made small-scale quantum computers available for the public to run code and see results. With this burgeoning interest in quantum computing experimentation, a new and urgent challenge lies in helping programmers translate those abstract algorithms into correctly functioning quantum program code.

"We were finding that even researchers who specialize in quantum computing...
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