Overview and Comparison of Gate Level Quantum Software Platforms



For a long time we have listed various quantum software tools in the Tools section of this website.  But occasionally we get asked, “Which one is best”.  The answer to this can be quite complicated because not all the tools do the same thing and it would be like comparing apples versus oranges.  Selection of the best one really depends upon who the user is, what prior experience they have, will they want to run their program on the cloud with one of the few quantum computers that are emerging, and what types of problems they are trying to solve.

Nonetheless, to help our readers we have chosen four general purpose gate level software platforms, Forest (pyQuil), QISKit, ProjectQ, and the Quantum Developer Kit (QDK), and created a document that compares them.  Of all the quantum software platforms that exist, these were the ones most similar to each other.  They also were openly available on GitHub so we were able to download them and try them out.  PhD student, Ryan LaRose tested all of them and created a comparison document.

What we found is that there were no winners or losers in this comparison.  Each of the platforms had its own strengths and weaknesses.  So the selection will still be dependent upon the individual user’s situation, but now our readers will have available something that helps identify the key features of each tool so they can make a more knowledgeable selection decision.

The one caveat we will give to our readers is that this comparison is a snapshot created in June 2018 and reflects the latest versions of the software available at this time.  However, rapid progress is being made on both the software and the hardware fronts so if you are reading this article at a later time, some of the platforms may have added additional features or entirely new and much better platform might become available.  So we would urge our readers reviewing this document after June 2018 to note the software version numbers listed in the paper carefully and determine if any significant revisions of a software platform have subsequently been released with new features not reflected in the paper.

We hope you enjoy this analysis and welcome any feedback you may have.  Depending upon reader feedback we may decide to create follow-on analyses that cover additional software packages or explore additional features that we didn’t have room to cover in this first paper.  Click here to view the full PDF.

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