Bits to Qubits: Decoding my dive into the IBM Quantum Challenge 2024

29 Jun 2024

Decoding my dive into the IBM Quantum Challenge 2024

Greetings from the sunny shores of Durban! Having just braved the IBM Quantum Challenge 2024 & still harboring a serious case of quantum fever, I‘m here to spill the Qiskit Kool-Aid on the good, the not-so-bad and the downright mind-blowing.

While the focus this year was broader, the last time I took part was IBM Quantum Challenge Africa 2021, which was all about tackling issues that hit close to home. Teaming up with Wits University, the IBM Research Lab in South Africa developed a challenge that targeted real-world African problems with crop logistics in Agriculture, Financial optimization and quantum Drug discovery. It was all about empowering us as African problem-solvers with the skills and knowledge to leverage the power of quantum computing for our communities.

2K24 & I’m levelling up my Quantum IQ: Lets be honest, quantum computing can feel like its spoken in a language only qubits understand. Going into this challenge, I was a solid 5 outta 10 on the quantum knowledge scale. By the end? Lets just say I graduated to a confident 6😉 The challenge wasn’t just informative, it made these mind-bending concepts feel tangible.

IBM Quantum Challenge 2024 - Darshani Persadh - scaling to 50+Qubits

So, Challenge Accepted (with a few Nitpicks) the whole experience gets a thumbs up from me - a solid 10 outta 10. The content was dense (think brain food buffet) but the learning curve never really felt like a sheer cliff. Our real-time forum for troubleshooting was epic, all of our challenge parties in different corners of the globe, not forgetting our Dev humor keeping us sane.

Tools that stole the show this challenge came loaded with some seriously cool tools, and a few that deserve special recognition:

  • Qiskit Code Assistant This code-whisperer was a godsend, suggesting optimizations and catching errors like a quantum ninja, in the Beta version! And being the first ones to try him out! t’was super cool to be able to do that!
  • Qiskit Serverless This auto backend selection had me deploying quantum tasks like a pro. Plus, the seamless integration and potential for parallel workflows? Quantum Devs, rejoice! A small caveat: more documentation on custom backend integration would be thee cherry on top.
  • AI Transpiler This one showed promise, but had a few hiccups with a shopping list of errors (think gremlins in the lab) 🥴
  • Circuit Knitting Toolbox more like untangling the Quantum yarn, this lab showed me how to break down complex circuits into bite-sized pieces.
  • VQC & Error Mitigation building a Variational Quantum Classifier, this was a such a cool lab. This lab threw me into the heart of practical quantum machine learning.
  • Scaling VQC to 50+ Qubits had me taking Quantum leaps & bounds, pushing both hardware and my understanding of quantum simulations to the limit. It wasn’t just about building a bigger classifier, this was a glimpse into the future.

Scaling VQC to 50+ Qubits – persadian taking Quantum Leaps and Bounds on ibm_sherbrooke

These last 10 days have certainly been a game changer for quantum engineers and I have come out with so much new knowledge. Major props to the Team of Developers for the crystal clear instructions & the encouragement. Imagine bouncing ideas off fellow quantum Devs/engineers, it was a perfect blend of theory, practice and future-focused challenges - now that’s how we conquer collaboratively.

For my setup, I primarily tested my Labs locally before running them in the Cloud, giving me the flexibility to switch environments. Sure, there were a few code-based hiccups, but nothing a little debugging couldn’t fix. Each lab built upon the previous one, creating a beautiful symphony of learning.

011 to 020

Some Advice to Sharpen your Quantum Sword

  1. Before diving in, brush up on the basics, online courses are great places to start.
  2. Practice makes perfect, find platforms that offer tutorials and playgrounds to experiment with quantum circuits.
  3. Don’t go it alone, find Quantum forum’s and communities to join & connect with other quantum enthusiasts and get help when you are stuck.
  4. Most Important know your coding environment, decide how you’ will be running your labs, locally or leveraging the cloud.

Never be afraid to experiment and seek help, learning curves are steep, but the journey is always worth half the fun.

My Quantum Reflections.

Its clear IBM is on a mission to democratize quantum computing for developers and the tools I got to explore are a giant leap forward that left me feeling prepped to tackle the quantum frontier. The possibilities for innovation are 🤯 as these tools keep evolving. This was a transformative experience. I left feeling empowered, yet both humbled by the complexity and energized by the possibilities. I’m always incredibly grateful for these opportunities to be at the forefront exploring cutting-edge technology and putting the insights I gain to good use.

Quantum Roadmap Presented by DR Persadh