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IBM announces new “Sampler” and “Estimator” Qiskit Runtime primitives

By Sandra Helsel posted 13 Apr 2022

(TheNextWeb) Tristan Green discusses IBM’s latest launch: two new Qiskit Runtime primitives. Inside Quantum Technology summarizes his discussion below.
IBM developed Qiskit Runtime to make it easier for people who don’t have a degree in physics to operate quantum computers.  IBM explained the benefit of Qiskit Runtime in a recent blog post

Qiskit Runtime lets users deploy programs instead of circuits. Containers allow them to package up code and all its dependencies so the quantum program runs quickly and reliably from one computing environment to another.

The new primitives take that a step further by making Qiskit even more accessible to algorithm developers. Dubbed “Sampler” and “Estimator,” the two new primitives essentially containerize many of the necessary steps in order to streamline the quantum computing stack for devs.

IBM’s Quantum Platform Lead, Blake Johnson, and Tushar Mittal, Senior Quantum Product Manager at IBM, told Green in an interview: Quantum computers are inherently probabilistic. One of the things that make them particularly unique is that they produce non-classical probability distributions as their outputs. Consequently, pretty much all of algorithm development requires working with these non-classical probability distributions. The two most common things one can do with a probability distribution is to sample from it or to estimate a quantity on it, which are precisely what the Sampler and Estimator primitives do.

As for what, exactly, they do… that’s a bit more complex. And it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. The whole point of quantum computing is to make things faster. Sampler and Estimator pretty much do what they’re called, but they accomplish sampling and estimation through the use of both classical and quantum computing.

Eventually, IBM wants its clients to decide what problems are important and how the company should go about implementing quantum-based solutions. But the huge disconnect between the quantum physicists operating the machines in the laboratories and the average computer specialists building algorithms for businesses makes it incredibly difficult for laypersons to access quantum solutions.

Sandra K. Helsel, Ph.D. has been researching and reporting on frontier technologies since 1990.  She has her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.


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