Quantum computing started to catch our attention in the mid-1990s when Peter Shor, a professor at MIT, invented an algorithm that could break public-key cryptography schemes similar to the ones we use today if a powerful enough quantum computer existed.
We still don’t have quantum computers large enough to run Shor’s algorithm at a scale useful enough to crack codes of the size we normally use. However, quantum computing has enjoyed spectacular growth in recent years, especially since Google announced in October 2019 that it had achieved quantum supremacy (although this claim has been challenged by IBM, but that’s another story…).
In this article, we’re going to show you seven apps for Android and iOS that introduce you to some of the different concepts related to quantum computing. They are ordered from the least to the most interesting according to my criteria. Download links have also been included for each of them.
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7. Quantum cats
It’s difficult to talk about quantum computing without cats getting involved. It’s a bit like surfing the net and not finding any kitten videos… Schrödinger’s cat is possibly the most famous feline in the history of physics and although he doesn’t stop living and dying, his legend certainly lives on. While the title of the app promises big things, it’s actually just an Angry Birds clone with a quantum computing theme. 🐱
This game is not specifically related with quantum computing or the properties upon which it is based, superposition and entanglement. It consists of a puzzle in which you need to combine quarks in order to form other particles. This simple game explains how protons, neutrons and electrons are in turn composed of combinations of other particles.
Quantum consists of a compact manual on quantum theory and a series of tests. It offers a brief, well-presented summary so you can learn the basics of quantum mechanics no matter where you are.
4. Hello Quantum
Another puzzle app which in this case does introduce concepts of quantum computing. Your goal is to achieve a target image using different types of logic gates. It introduces some of the terminology, but the relationship between the game and the reality of the logic gates used is confusing so I don’t think we can learn much from it. However, it still makes for an entertaining puzzle…
3. The Quantum Dice
The generation of random numbers is one of the most basic applications of quantum computers.
Have you seen how Asier Arranz and I explained this idea using billiard balls and Qiskit? By applying a Hadamard gate to a qubit, we put it in a superposition state providing an equal probabilty of reading a 0 or a 1 when we measure it.
This app uses the same procedure to create dice backed up by quantum computing. You can choose the number of dice to throw and the number of sides on each dice. You then throw the dice and… you get genuinely random results! …well, not exactly. By default, the app uses IBM’s Q Experience quantum simulator. But it does provide the source code in Github and the documentation so you can modify it to consult real quantum computers. However, each throw of the dice takes a while due to the queues. For more information, go to https://artemisorbitals.com/products/the-quantum-dice/.
2. Quantum TiqTaqToe
This version of the classic Tic Tac Toe game introduces quantum phenomena such as superposition and entanglement.
I’ve never really understood why Tic Tac Toe exists as a game at all. However, the possibility of having a token superposed in two squares or entangling your token with that of your opponent opens up many more strategic possibilities. The author offers an interesting explanation of the motives behind the app and its development at http://www.quantumtictactoe.com.
1. Quantum Computing
This is an authentic graphical editor of quantum algorithms, very similar to IBM Q Experience. It includes basic gates, to which you can add new custom gates. It can show the position of each of the qubits on the Bloch sphere and you can also save the circuits in OpenQASM format. All in all, it’s an excellent alternative to IBM Q Experience for your smartphone.