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Monday, February 21, 2022

MIT's Twist Quantum Programming Language

Meet Twist: MIT’s Quantum Programming Language Keeping tabs on data entanglement keeps reins on buggy quantum code        RINA DIANE CABALLAR

A team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have created Twist, a new programming language for quantum computing. Twist is designed to make it easier for developers to identify which pieces of data are entangled, thereby allowing them to create quantum programs that have fewer errors and are easier to debug.

Twist’s foundations lie in identifying entanglement, a phenomenon wherein the states of two pieces of data inside a quantum computer are linked to each other. “Whenever you perform an action on one piece of an entangled piece of data, it may affect the other one. You can implement powerful quantum algorithms with it, but it also makes it unintuitive to reason about the programs you write and easy to introduce subtle bugs,” says Charles Yuan, a Ph.D. student in computer science at MIT CSAIL and lead author on the paper about Twist, published in the journal Proceedings of the ACM on Programming Languages.

“What Twist does is it provides features that allow a developer to say which pieces of data are entangled and which ones aren’t,” Yuan says. “By including information about entanglement inside a program, you can check that a quantum algorithm is implemented correctly.”

One of the language’s features is a type system that enables developers to specify which expressions and pieces of data within their programs are pure. A pure piece of data, according to Yuan, is free from entanglement, and thereby free from possible bugs and unintuitive effects caused by entanglement. Twist also has purity assertion operators to affirm that an expression lacks entanglement with any other piece of data, as well as static analyses and run-time checks to verify these assertions.

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