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Programming languages and compiler design for realistic quantum hardware

Abstract

Quantum computing sits at an important inflection point. For years, high-level algorithms for quantum computers have shown considerable promise, and recent advances in quantum device fabrication offer hope of utility. A gap still exists, however, between the hardware size and reliability requirements of quantum computing algorithms and the physical machines foreseen within the next ten years. To bridge this gap, quantum computers require appropriate software to translate and optimize applications (toolflows) and abstraction layers. Given the stringent resource constraints in quantum computing, information passed between layers of software and implementations will differ markedly from in classical computing. Quantum toolflows must expose more physical details between layers, so the challenge is to find abstractions that expose key details while hiding enough complexity.

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Figure 1: Design tool flows and abstraction stacks.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the many collaborators who have helped shape our thinking over the years: K. Brown, I. Chuang, E. Chi, A. Faruque, A. Harrow, J. Heckey, A. Javadi-Abhari, J. Kubiatowicz, D. Kudrow, T. Metodi, M. Oskin, S. Patil, J. Reppy, D. Schuster, M. Suchara and D. Thaker. This work was funded in part by Los Alamos National Laboratory and the US Department of Defense under subcontract 431682, by NSF PHY grant 1660686, and by a research gift from Intel Corporation.

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All three authors contributed equally to the survey and conclusions in this article.

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Correspondence to Frederic T. Chong.

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Reviewer Information Nature thanks B. Valiron and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Chong, F., Franklin, D. & Martonosi, M. Programming languages and compiler design for realistic quantum hardware. Nature 549, 180–187 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature23459

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