Phantom Quantum Products

Brian N. Siegelwax


Harry Houdini would be proud.

I am on a glorious mission to find and play with every quantum computing product I possibly can. I’m maintaining a partial, public list at “Quantum Computing Product Menu,” but I actually have a much larger private list. And in aggregating these two lists, I have thus far discovered four high-level classifications:

  • It works!
  • It’s buggy.
  • It’s bogus.
  • Um… where is it?

As the title of this article suggests, I’ll be emphasizing the last one. However, let’s go in order from the top, shall we?

It works!

Very few products work on the very first try and continue to work well from there. Off the top of my head, most of them are hosted environments. For example, I don’t recall any issues using the Perceval library from within Quandela Cloud, because the hosted environment is configured specifically for Perceval.

There are some products that have worked on the first try outside of hosted environments, but they are rare. One example is the Alpine Quantum Technologies GmbH (AQT) ion trap emulator. With the disclaimer that I have not used it extensively, some initial testing worked bug-free within Google Colab.

It’s buggy.

Most of the products that work require at least a little bit of troubleshooting. Some of them require quite a bit of troubleshooting, but the important thing is that they eventually work as advertised. The most common issues are probably a tie between environment issues and poor documentation. Environment issues might be operating system support, conflicting path variables, or version conflicts among dependencies. But quite a few issues are simply the result of either not proofreading the documentation or not updating the documentation after new releases.

Some of the issues, admittedly, are the result of me trying things that haven’t been tried before. For example, I believe I was the first to access QuEra’s “Aquila” from within the qBraid platform, so that required some troubleshooting with AWS Braket. Everyone figured it out, though, so you are now free to play with Aquila with the 1000 credits qBraid will give you for registering…