IBM Q Experience

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The IBM Q Experience is an online platform that gives users in the general public access to a set of IBM’s prototype quantum processors via the Cloud, an online internet forum for discussing quantum computing relevant topics, a set of tutorials on how to program the IBM Q devices, and other educational material about quantum computing. It is an example of cloud based quantum computing. As of May 2018, there are three processors on the IBM Q Experience: two 5-qubit processors and a 16-qubit processor. This service can be used to run algorithms and experiments, and explore tutorials and simulations around what might be possible with quantum computing. The site also provides an easily discoverable list of research papers published using the IBM Q Experience as an experimentation platform.

IBM’s quantum processors are made up of superconducting transmon qubits, located in a dilution refrigerator at the IBM Research headquarters at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

Users interact with a quantum processor through the quantum circuit model of computation, applying quantum gates on the qubits using a GUI called the quantum composer, writing quantum assembly language code[1] or through QISKit.[2]


In May 2016, IBM launched the IBM Q Experience,[3] with a five qubit quantum processor and matching simulator connected in a star shaped pattern, which users could only interact with through the quantum composer, with a limited set of two-qubit interactions, and a user guide that assumed background in linear algebra.

In July 2016, IBM launched the IBM Q Experience community forum.

In January 2017, IBM made a number of additions to the IBM Q Experience,[4] including increasing the set of two-qubit interactions available on the five qubit quantum processor, expanding the simulator to custom topologies up to twenty qubits, and allowing users to interact with the device and simulator using quantum assembly language code.

In March 2017, IBM released QISKit[5] to enable users to more easily write code and run experiments on the quantum processor and simulator, as well as introduced a user guide for beginners.

In May 2017, IBM made an additional 16 qubit processor available on the IBM Q Experience.[6]

In January of 2018, IBM launched a quantum awards program, which it hosts on the IBM Q Experience. [7]

Quantum Composer[edit]

Screen shot showing the result of running a GHZ state experiment using the IBM Quantum Composer

The Quantum Composer is a graphic user interface (GUI) designed by IBM to allow users to construct various quantum algorithms or run other quantum experiments. Users may see the results of their quantum algorithms by either running it on a real quantum processor and using "units" or by using a simulator. Algorithms developed in the Quantum Composer are referred to as a "quantum score", in reference to the Quantum Composer resembling a musical sheet.[8]

The IBM Q Experience currently contains a library teaching users how to use the Quantum Composer. The library consists of two guides: Beginner's Guide, Full User Guide. There are additional tutorials about using the IBM Q Experience machines in the github repo for QISKit accessed from

The composer can also be used in scripting mode, where the user can write programs in the QASM-language instead.

Example script[edit]

Below is an example in the QASM-language of a very small program, built for IBMs 5-qubit computer. The program instructs the computer to generate the state , a 3-qubit GHZ state, which can be thought of as a variant of the Bell state but with three qubits instead of just the classical two. It then measures the state, forcing it to collapse to one of the two possible outcomes.

 1 include ""
 2 qreg q[5];                // allocate 5 qubits (set automatically to |00000>)
 3 creg c[5];                // allocate 5 classical bits
 5 h q[0];                   // hadamard-transform qubit 0
 6 cx q[0], q[1];            // conditional pauli X-transform (ie. "CNOT") of qubits 0 and 1. this generates the normal 2-qubit bell state
 7 cx q[1], q[2];            // this expands entanglement to the 3rd qubit
 9 measure q[0] -> c[0];     // this measurement collapses the state
10 measure q[1] -> c[1];     // qubit 1 and 2 read the same value as qubit 0
11 measure q[2] -> c[2];

Every instruction in the QASM language is the application of a quantum gate, initialization of the chips registers to zero or measurement of these registers.

Beginner's Guide[edit]

The Beginner's Guide introduces users to the terminology and conceptual knowledge of quantum mechanics needed to compose quantum scores. The beginners guide introduces readers to the elementary concepts of quantum computing: behavior of qubits, quantum entanglement, and quantum gates.

Full User Guide[edit]

The full user guide is more in depth and analytical compared to the beginner's guide, and is recommended for those with experience in linear algebra or quantum computing. Unlike the beginners guide, the full user guide contains quantum algorithm examples, with explanations comparing quantum algorithms to their classical counterparts.[9]

Both of the Beginner and Full User Guides can be updated by anyone via the QISKit github repository. [10]


IBM reports that there are over 80,000 users of the IBM Q Experience, who have collectively run over 3 million experiments.[11]

Many of these users are active researchers who have collectively published at least 72 academic papers using the platform. [12] [13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

University professors are also integrating examples and experiments based on the IBM Q Experience into their educational curricula.[29]

Dr. Christine Corbett Moran, a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, used the IBM Q Experience while she was doing research in Antarctica.[30]

People have also used the IBM Q Experience for various non-academic purposes. One user has begun developing games using the IBM Q Experience,[31] including one titled "quantum battleships".[32]


  1. ^ "QISKit OPENQASM Specification". 
  2. ^ "QISKit Python API". 
  3. ^ "IBM Makes Quantum Computing Available on IBM Cloud to Accelerate Innovation". 
  4. ^ "IBM Quantum Experience Update". 
  5. ^ "Quantum computing gets an API and SDK". 
  6. ^ "Beta access our upgrade to the IBM QX". 
  7. ^ "Now Open: Get quantum ready with new scientific prizes for professors, students and developers". 
  8. ^ "IBM Q experience". Quantum Experience. IBM. Retrieved 3 July 2017. 
  9. ^ "Welcome to the IBM Quantum Experience". Quantum Experience. IBM. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  10. ^ "IBM Q Experience User Guides". 
  11. ^ "IBM Collaborating With Top Startups to Accelerate Quantum Computing". 
  12. ^ "QX Community papers". 
  13. ^ Rundle, R.P.; Tilma, T.; Samson, J.H.; Everitt, M.J. (28 May 2016). "Quantum state reconstruction made easy: a direct method for tomography". Physical Review A. 96 (2). arXiv:1605.08922Freely accessible [quant-ph]. Bibcode:2017PhRvA..96b2117R. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.96.022117. 
  14. ^ Corbett Moran, Christine (29 June 2016). "Quintuple: a Python 5-qubit quantum computer simulator to facilitate cloud quantum computing". arXiv:1606.09225Freely accessible [quant-ph]. 
  15. ^ Huffman, Emilie; Mizel, Ari (29 March 2017). "Violation of noninvasive macrorealism by a superconducting qubit: Implementation of a Leggett-Garg test that addresses the clumsiness loophole". Physical Review A. 95 (3). Bibcode:2017PhRvA..95c2131H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.95.032131. 
  16. ^ Deffner, Sebastian (23 September 2016). "Demonstration of entanglement assisted invariance on IBM's Quantum Experience". arXiv:1609.07459Freely accessible [quant-ph]. 
  17. ^ Huang, He-Liang; Zhao, You-Wei; Li, Tan; Li, Feng-Guang; Du, Yu-Tao; Fu, Xiang-Qun; Zhang, Shuo; Wang, Xiang; Bao, Wan-Su (9 December 2016). "Homomorphic Encryption Experiments on IBM's Cloud Quantum Computing Platform". arXiv:1612.02886Freely accessible [cs.CR]. 
  18. ^ Wootton, James R (1 March 2017). "Demonstrating non-Abelian braiding of surface code defects in a five qubit experiment". Quantum Science and Technology. 2 (1): 015006. arXiv:1609.07774Freely accessible. Bibcode:2017QS&T....2a5006W. doi:10.1088/2058-9565/aa5c73. 
  19. ^ Fedortchenko, Serguei (8 July 2016). "A quantum teleportation experiment for undergraduate students". arXiv:1607.02398Freely accessible [quant-ph]. 
  20. ^ Berta, Mario; Wehner, Stephanie; Wilde, Mark M (6 July 2016). "Entropic uncertainty and measurement reversibility". New Journal of Physics. 18 (7): 073004. arXiv:1511.00267Freely accessible. Bibcode:2016NJPh...18g3004B. doi:10.1088/1367-2630/18/7/073004. 
  21. ^ Li, Rui; Alvarez-Rodriguez, Unai; Lamata, Lucas; Solano, Enrique (23 November 2016). "Approximate Quantum Adders with Genetic Algorithms: An IBM Quantum Experience". Quantum Measurements and Quantum Metrology. 4 (1): 1–7. arXiv:1611.07851Freely accessible [quant-ph]. Bibcode:2017QMQM....4....1L. doi:10.1515/qmetro-2017-0001. 
  22. ^ Hebenstreit, M.; Alsina, D.; Latorre, J. I.; Kraus, B. (11 January 2017). "Compressed quantum computation using the IBM Quantum Experience". arXiv:1701.02970Freely accessible [quant-ph]. 
  23. ^ Alsina, Daniel; Latorre, José Ignacio (11 July 2016). "Experimental test of Mermin inequalities on a five-qubit quantum computer". Physical Review A. 94 (1). arXiv:1605.04220Freely accessible. Bibcode:2016PhRvA..94a2314A. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.94.012314. 
  24. ^ Linke, Norbert M.; Maslov, Dmitri; Roetteler, Martin; Debnath, Shantanu; Figgatt, Caroline; Landsman, Kevin A.; Wright, Kenneth; Monroe, Christopher (28 March 2017). "Experimental comparison of two quantum computing architectures". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (13): 3305–3310. doi:10.1073/pnas.1618020114. PMC 5380037Freely accessible. 
  25. ^ Devitt, Simon J. (29 September 2016). "Performing quantum computing experiments in the cloud". Physical Review A. 94 (3). arXiv:1605.05709Freely accessible. Bibcode:2016PhRvA..94c2329D. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.94.032329. 
  26. ^ Steiger, Damian; Haner, Thomas; Troyer, Matthias (23 December 2016). "ProjectQ: An Open Source Software Framework for Quantum Computing". arXiv:1612.08091Freely accessible [quant-ph]. 
  27. ^ Santos, Alan C. (2017). "O Computador Quântico da IBM e o IBM Quantum Experience". Revista Brasileira de Ensino de Física. 39 (1). doi:10.1590/1806-9126-RBEF-2016-0155. 
  28. ^ Caicedo-Ortiz, H. E.; Santiago-Cortés, E. (2017). "Construyendo compuertas cuánticas con IBM's cloud quantum computer" [Building quantum gates with IBM’s cloud quantum computer] (PDF). Journal de Ciencia e Ingeniería (in Spanish). 9: 42–56. 
  29. ^ Sheldon, Sarah (10 June 2016). "Students try hand at cracking quantum code". 
  30. ^ Nay, Chris (26 July 2016). "Quantum Experiences: Q&A with Caltech's Christine Corbett Moran". 
  31. ^ Wootton, James (12 March 2017). "Why we need to make quantum games". 
  32. ^ Wootton, James (7 March 2017). "Quantum Battleships: The first multiplayer game for a quantum computer". 

External links[edit]