We are at the beginning of a new chapter in the information revolution. Up until now, this revolution has unfolded based almost entirely on what a physicist would call a classical model of information. This is now known to be too narrow. Breaking out into a fully quantum theory and technology of information processing will enable us to perform some computations that would take more than the age of the universe to do on a classical computer; and to process information in other ways that are so new and different that they cannot even be properly described, let alone performed, within the classical model.
The IBM Quantum Experience represents the birth of quantum cloud computing, offering students, researchers, and general science enthusiasts hands-on access to IBM’s experimental cloud-enabled quantum computing platform, and allowing users to run algorithms and experiments, work with quantum bits (qubits), and explore tutorials and simulations around what might be possible with quantum computing.
And with that IBM have made accessible their Quantum Experience online. However it’s not (yet) a free-for-all, but it is free, and all you have to do is apply for access stating some basic information like your interest level & previous quantum knowledge, etc. It’s painless.
If approved, you’ll gain access first to a really robust ‘User Guide’ that doubles as a quantum primer, explaining quantum algorithms and qubit experiments. That alone is worth the bother of applying and taking the time to read, which will then prepare you for using their Composer, a sort of musical score where you drag-and-drop pre-set (this software is in preview mode after all) quantum gate options. Here’s a preview of the composer and how IBM describe the gates:
(click to enlarge)
Don’t worry, I’m just as confused as you are. But learning comes through experimentation, and IBM are building future-access to their quantum processors based on your interactions. Executions are ran on a real-world quantum processor super-cooled at IBM’s research lab in Yorktown Heights, NY. To limit overburdening the processor executions require ‘Units,’ a type of currency for exchanging with the processor. Some executions might take a while depending on their complexity and your place in the queue, and results are returned via ‘My scores’ by clicking on the experiment’s ‘execution results’ graph icon. One experiment I ran took ~60 minutes to return results.
Here’s a preview of the Experience explained using a classic ‘find the lady’ card trick:
If you’re interested apply online at the IBM Quantum Computing microsite. As if NOR and NAND gates weren’t already ways of understanding the world, Pauli- and Hadamard gates are a whole new level of gate logic. Have fun!