Linux Foundation launches QIR Alliance to make quantum apps available for all

Linux Foundation launches QIR Alliance to make quantum apps available for all
2 Dec, 2021

The Linux Foundation has partnered with Microsoft, Honeywell and others to bring together the quantum intermediate representation (QIR) Alliance. 

The QIR Alliance seeks to establish a collaborative effort towards building quantum apps that can essentially run across today’s classical computers, quantum simulators and full-scale quantum processors as well. 

The objective behind such an Alliance is to make quantum apps available for a wider range of users, which in turn would maximise their applicability within research projects.  

Based on the LLVM code compiler framework, an intermediate representation (IR) makes any computer language capable of running on a computing platform.  

Essentially, code written in any language gets compiled into IR. The latter is subsequently optimized, and as required, converted into executable code based on the system that this code is run on. 

What this does is to allow developers to write a single piece of code in one language, which then becomes compatible across various computing platforms without needing it to be rewritten. This makes apps developed for classical (or regular) computers compatible across a wide range of platforms, which in turn maximises how users can utilise them. 

With the QIR Alliance, companies and developers can create quantum optimisers alongside the standard IR on the LLVM compiler, to create apps that straddle both quantum computers, as well as high performance classical computers that simulate quantum applications for scientists and researchers. 

Bettina Heim, principal software engineering manager at Microsoft, said upon the development, “We expect there to be exciting advances in how classical and quantum computations can interact at the hardware level.  

The QIR Alliance will provide a single representation that can be used for both today’s restricted capabilities and the more powerful systems of the future. This will allow the community to experiment with and develop optimisations and code transformations that work in a variety of use cases.” 

As quantum computing evolves and moves towards wider applications, the QIR Alliance will seek to make its use cases more readily available to users. This will involve creating apps that can be easily migrated across new platforms, which the Alliance aims to ensure.