Quantum Computing 101: Brilliant, Google, Microsoft Training Workers

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professional programmers to grasp the material. Brilliant suggests two of its courses as prerequisites: Linear Algebra and Computer Science Essentials.

Brilliant, founded in 2012, targets everyone from high school and college students to adults who just like to give their brains a workout. The company started offering courses such as “Probability’’ and “Physics of the Everyday’’ in late 2016. Now there are more than 40 courses, and subscribers can tap into them all for a yearly subscription of $120, or $10 a month. Other topics among the advanced courses include artificial neural networks and machine learning.

The Quantum Computing course is Brilliant’s first formal collaboration with industry partners, but the company has frequently worked with tech professionals on course design and writing, Ross says. Brilliant routinely makes the earliest unit of each of its courses available free online. But for now, it is providing open access to thirteen lessons of the 33-lesson Quantum Computing course for free.

After finishing the Quantum Computing course, students can proceed to take two of Brilliant’s related advanced courses: Quantum Objects and Computational Biology. The biology course covers the art of 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.

Though the Quantum Computing course was quietly launched for Brilliant’s more than 8 million existing users in December, a recent Microsoft blogpost about the project was part of a more public debut.

Microsoft says its engineers worked with Brilliant to integrate its Q# quantum programming language into a coding environment that students can use through their browsers.

“For the first time, without installing a new development environment, programmers can try out quantum algorithms for themselves and learn how they can be applied to their own work,’’ the blogpost says.

The Q# language is also integrated with the classical programming language Python, giving Brilliant’s students a taste of the hybrid computing methods that will be used in the near-term period while quantum computing is still in its early stages of development. Classical computers could operate conventionally, but also call on quantum hardware to solve particularly hard problems, Microsoft says.

‘’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,’’ the Microsoft blogpost states.

Brilliant’s other goal is to speed up the development of quantum computing by expanding the workforce of knowledgeable people.

“The course aims to grow the number of people who understand this field from (a) few thousands to the hundreds of thousands,’’ the company says.

Photo credit: Depositphotos

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