Microsoft Unveils Programming Language Built for Quantum Computing

At its Ignite developer conference in Orlando yesterday, Microsoft announced that it has developed a new programming language designed to not only run on current computers but on the most advanced machines of the future: quantum computers.

Like many other of the world's largest tech companies, Microsoft has been working to develop quantum computers that could handle massively complex problems in minutes or seconds. Unlike today's conventional devices that use the digital bits "0" and "1," quantum computers use qubits that can act as 0s, 1s or both simultaneously.

Microsoft said its new quantum computing language, which has yet to be named, is "deeply integrated" into its Visual Basic development environment and does many of the things other standard programming languages do. However, it is specifically designed to allow programmers to create apps that will eventually run on true quantum computers.

By supporting massive processing and memory demands through quantum physics, quantum computers could help solve many currently intractable problems from deadly diseases to climate change to IT security challenges.

'A New Form of Matter'

Like other companies, such as Google and IBM, Microsoft has been working for years to advance quantum computing research to the point where the technology becomes feasible rather than theoretical. Its quantum computing research team includes Fields Medal-winning mathematician Michael Freedman; Charles Marcus, professor at the University of Copenhagen's Niels Bohr Institute; and quantum computing software expert Krysta Svore.

"[W]e set out with a goal of not just trying to achieve a few scientific milestones -- we sort of went back to the very core first principles and said, 'What would it take to build a truly scalable quantum computer?'" Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said yesterday during his keynote address at Ignite.

Joining Nadella on stage, Freedman added, "Microsoft's qubit will be based on a new...

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