Drawing From Minecraft Experiences to Program Quantum Computing Algorithms
The Quantum Gate Hack – Applying Ideas From Gaming Hacks to Quantum Computing
+ Everyone working on quantum computers knows the devices are error prone. The basic unit of quantum programming – the quantum gate – fails about once every hundred operations. And that error rate is too high.
+ While hardware developers and programming analysts are fretting over failure rates, PNNL’s Nathan Wiebe is forging ahead writing code that he is confident will run on quantum computers when they are ready. In his joint appointment role as a professor of physics at the University of Washington, Wiebe is training the next generation of quantum computing theorists and programmers.
“On a quantum computer, when you try to measure the quantum bits, they revert to ordinary bits. In the process, they lose the very features that give quantum computing its power,” Wiebe said. “With a quantum computer you have to be more subtle than you do with ordinary computers. You have to coax out information about the system without damaging the information that was encoded in there.”
+ Coding for quantum computers requires leaps of imagination that can be daunting on one level, but Wiebe points out that any 15-year-old Minecraft enthusiast would have no trouble understanding the basics of how it works. The wildly popular building block video game has spawned a community of enthusiastic coders who create virtual computers inside the game environment. Minecraft coders have simulated real-world physics and created virtual calculators, among other feats. The Minecraft universe has its own internal rules and some of them don’t quite make sense – much like some of the rules of the quantum universe don’t seem clear, even to physicists.
+ Despite not understanding why the rules in Minecraft work the way they do, players instead learn how the physics of Minecraft work and further how to exploit that knowledge to perform tasks the games creators may not have intended. Quantum computer programmers have a similar challenge. They are faced with the strange rules of quantum mechanics and try to find creative ways to “hack” them to build computers that, in some cases, can solve problems trillions of times faster than ordinary computers by using quantum effects like interference and entanglement that ordinary computers lack.
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