Coding a Quantum Computer


Katarina Petrovic 

In Week 8 of Michaelmas we held our first Quantum Coding Workshop. The workshop was open to all students regardless of background or expertise. The event took place at the Oxford Foundry and our 25 spaces for the event had quickly sold out. The focus was on exposing the members to Qiskit, an open-source Python library which is used to tackle quantum computing problems. This easy-to-use library was developed by IBM Research - one of the companies leading the quantum computing space race. Qiskit was created to leverage quantum processors in research, education and business. 

The workshop began with a brief introduction to quantum computing delivered by Ben Jaderberg, from Oxford's Quantum Systems Engineering group. During the workshop our members had the opportunity to learn quantum coding interactively by working through a Jupyter notebook, designed by Ben together with our committee members, Abhishek and Maria, and the open-source Qiskit community tutorials.

The topics discussed included quantum circuits, superposition and entanglement. First, we solved introductory problems on creating and operating with quantum circuits, using basic Python knowledge. This progressed to observing entanglement and noise. We also had a series of fun tasks to test participants' acquired knowledge, including building a quantum 8-Ball and superposing quantum emojis! 

Snacks and drinks were provided and the workshop leaders were there to help explain key ideas to attendees. It was nice to see a great number of our members expressing interest in the topic. In fact, there was so much enthusiasm and positive feedback for the event that we organised two more quantum coding events for Hilary Term 2020 - both a repeat of this introductory workshop and a hackathon with quantum software company Cambridge Quantum Computing are coming soon!