Worry not, Python devs – you can program a quantum computer

Schroedinger's snake slithers into Bank's quantum sim

Australia's Commonwealth Bank has bought a simulated quantum computer that you can program with Python.

Yes, that Python – the scripting language created by Guido van Rossum, beloved of web developers and adapted into kiddie-coding tool Scratch.

Python may appear an odd choice for a quantum computer, seeing as they're ever-so-exotic that discussions of the technology recognise that building one will be a significant feat. Programming one will be even harder and creating an IDE that doesn't challenge human cognition will be a major achievement.

The Bank thinks it has that licked, because it's cooked up “Python libraries which includes qubit initialisation, and gate operations.”

Sadly The Register can't point you towards those libraries, because the sim is only available to bank staff.

We were also unable to ponder how a simulator might usefully teach developers anything about a computer that hasn't been built yet, with or without Python.

The simulator was provided by Australia-US company QxBranch, which was spun out of Shoal Group in 2015. QxBranch's take on the CBA deal is here.

“We are confident in our ability to adapt,” the Bank's head of emerging technology Dilan Rajasingham told us. “We are confident that by starting early in using simulators we give ourselves the best chance to meet the quantum future. The focus here is on the coding paradigm being able to codify (business) problems into quantum language e.g. qubits and gate operations.”

“The simulator is also built to be adaptable to new languages, quantum operations and hardware evolution, this allows the quantum applications being built to evolve as the quantum industry matures.”

Good luck with that, Dilan.

The Commonwealth Bank's interest in quantum computing comes from a desire to be ready for such machines once they arrive, so it can do stuff far faster than it can today. The Bank therefore sunk AU$5m into the University of New South Wales' quantum computing lab to help development and make sure its people understand quantum developments. The simulator's an extension of that effort. ®


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