Learn the basics of quantum computing along with Microsoft’s Q# language in this interactive course. The course is brief, taking roughly 16 to 24 hours to complete. (Image credit: Brilliant)


Figuring out the basics of quantum computing can be intimidating. Since it uses and exploits the laws of quantum mechanics to process information, it’s not the easier thing to grasp. Luckily, Microsoft wants to help out. Microsoft and Alphabet’s X recently teamed up with Brilliant for an online curriculum for quantum computing.


The course starts with the basics, helping students learn the concepts of quantum computing. It also introduces you to Microsoft’s Q# language that teaches you how to write simple quantum algorithms before advancing to more complicated situations. A drag-and-drop simulator feature helps you throughout the course by doing the heavy mathematical problems to make it easier to focus on the quantum learnings. This way, you can solve quantum circuit puzzles, peek inside the quantum state at any point along the simulation, and get a feel for the operations that a quantum computer may be able to perform.


Microsoft’s Q# allows for Python integration within the course, which lets you “implement the classical side of an algorithm and call Q# to run the quantum side” within a single coding environment. According to Microsoft, “By the end of this course, students will appreciate how a difficult classical problem can be translated into a quantum representation, and experiment with the reality of quantum computation. Quantum Computing also illustrates how quantum hardware may enable large-scale quantum chemistry simulation, by taking learners through the efficient preparation and manipulation of highly-entangled states which are prohibitively costly with classical computers.”


After finishing the Quantum Computing course, you have the option to take two of Brilliant’s related advanced courses: Quantum Objects and Computational Biology. The biology course covers creating algorithms that can help predict the three-dimensional shape and structure of biological molecules from a knowledge of their DNA sequences. The structure of a biological molecule is key to understanding how well it may function as a drug or a catalyst.


The course isn’t very long, only taking between 16 to 24 hours. If you’re interested in learning more or just want to know what quantum computing is about, Brilliant is offering the first two chapters for free for a limited time. So, even if you’re interested but not fully committed, it’s a great time to check out the course.


Brilliant and Microsoft hope to encourage more researchers and programmers to learn more about quantum computing. While it isn’t widely used now, quantum computers could offer breakthroughs in fields from code-breaking to drug development and to the design of super-catalysts. As more companies show interest in quantum computing, it’ll be essential for programmers and developers to be familiar with the concept.


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