Programming a quantum computer is not straightforward. But playing computer games is–and this one will help academics gather information to help them write code for quantum computers in the future.
The game, called meQuanics, has been developed by a team from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science in Saitama, Japan. It’s based on a quantum computing problem known as topological error correction, reports New Scientist.
Quantum computers can, theoretically, be so much faster because they take advantage of a quirk in quantum mechanics. While classical computers use bits in 0 or 1, quantum computers use “qubits” that can exist in 0, 1, or a superposition of 2. In turn, that allows the computers to work through possible solutions more quickly.
Quantum computers are made from a 3D assembly of those qubits, but the structure into which they’re assembled is important: Different arrangements can provide the same performance while requiring different numbers of qubits. It’s the general form of the shape—the topology—that’s important, so researchers are keen to find the designs that use the smallest number of qubits while maximizing performance.
Trouble is, they don’t know quite how to do it yet—which is where meQuanics comes in. The game will basically amass a giant collection of complex 3D geometries that will be used to teach computers how to solve the problem instead.
Players pilot a spaceship and have to shrink the circuit they navigate down as much as possible. The game’s constraints are determined by the quantum rules that the circuits would have to adhere to in terms of the actual scientific theory. It currently works in Firefox and Safari, though a Kickstarter campaign aims to get it on Android and iOS, too.
Why not go play it?