Quantum Computing in JavaScript with Q.js

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Anyone can learn quantum computing! Join Stewart Smith as he describes his open-source passion project, Q.js. What exactly is a quantum computer? What's it good for? And how does Quantum JavaScript fit in? While this talk is for anyone curious about quantum computing, it will resonate particularly with coders, high school algebra survivors, and music nerds.

Stewart Smith
Stewart Smith
26 min
20 Jun, 2022

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Video Summary and Transcription

Stuart Smith discusses his journey in virtual reality and quantum computing, highlighting his work in web VR and the creation of Quantum JavaScript. He introduces QGS, a platform for quantum tutorials and experimentation, and explains the concept of qubits and superposition. Smith also mentions Amazon Bracket, a quantum service that allows the building and running of quantum circuits on simulators or actual quantum hardware.

Available in Español

1. Introduction to Stuart Smith's VR Journey

Short description:

Hi, I'm Stuart Smith. I've been part of the virtual reality community for quite some time now. I got involved in web VR back when building web-based virtual reality meant asking Brandon Jones over at Google for custom builds of Chromium. I released Space Rocks, a personal tribute to Atari's 1979 classic Asteroids, but in VR, of course. I also wrote HandyJS for both recording and recognizing hand poses on the fly. I've made a lot of work outside of VR, too. I'm educated as a graphic designer and artist. I've worked as a commissioned artist and had artwork exhibited in various galleries and museums. I'm also a lifelong mediocre-to-terrible musician.

Hi, I'm Stuart Smith. Some of you folks might already know me from my dayjob. I've been part of the virtual reality community for quite some time now. Particularly the web-based VR community.

I got involved in web VR back when building web-based virtual reality meant asking Brandon Jones over at Google for custom builds of Chromium. The medium felt really fresh and exciting. And around that time, I wrote the VR controller library for 3JS. It provided an easy, generic way for your web VR app to support a bunch of different hand controllers without having to write custom code for each one. So back then, that meant, you know, the first Vive controllers, Microsoft Mixed Reality controllers, Rift Touch, Daydream, and remember Gear VR? And all that stuff.

Over at the Google Data Arts team, we used the VR controller library to power this VR music video for the band LCD Sound System. You could dance along to the song in VR, and then a recording of your dance would become part of the video itself. So shout out to our collaborators and the real stars of that project, Studio Moniker and Studio Pucky. Look them both up.

I also released Space Rocks, a personal tribute to Atari's 1979 classic Asteroids, but in VR, of course. I took my VR controller library and I added something I called multi-channel haptic feedback. Which made it super easy to add complex haptic commands to your web VR app. Like, if you wanted kickback from firing your laser, but also needed to feel the hum of your plasma engines revving up and down, well, my haptic channels approach made that a breeze. Just a few years later, Oculus upped the game by adding a hand tracking API for web-based VR. I immediately wrote HandyJS. For both recording and recognizing hand poses on the fly. So instead of just pinch gestures to select things, with HandyJS you could easily recognize the whole ASL finger spelling alphabet and then some. Finger guns was most fun, obviously. This library does not require any machine learning whatsoever. Seriously, there's no network inside of Handy, it's some k-means clustering magic. And it is wicked fast.

I've made a lot of work outside of VR, too. I started coding when I was quite young, but I'm educated as a graphic designer and artist. I didn't study computer science. I've worked as a commissioned artist, and I've had artwork exhibited in various galleries and museums. I'm also a lifelong mediocre-to-terrible musician.

2. Stuart Smith's Quantum Computing Journey

Short description:

I'm the head of consumer augmented reality at Unity, but I'm here to talk about my passion interest, quantum computing. I'm the creator of Quantum JavaScript and the founder of Open Quantum Club. QGS is a website, source code repository, drag-and-drop circuit composer interface, quantum circuit simulator, code library, API, concept primers, and a growing community of enthusiasts. I'm starting OQC, a project featuring profiles and interviews with folks in the quantum community. Stay tuned for more about that. Quantum computing is a hanging cylindrical tank, with different architectures like polarized photons, trapped ions, and superconductors.

I even enjoy writing essays occasionally, despite having no license to do so. And right now, I'm the head of consumer augmented reality at Unity. Everyone knows Unity, right? Our game engine is all about providing real-time 3D rendering for the masses. 70% of the world's mobile games are made with Unity. And we're not just 70% of mobile, we're half of all games. So if you play games, you've played something made with Unity. But I'm not here to talk about any of that. I'm here to talk about my nights and weekends' passion interest, quantum computing. I'm the creator and maintainer of Quantum JavaScript, or QGS for short. And I'm the founder of Open Quantum Club.

What is this stuff exactly? Well, let's go deep on QGS for a second. It's actually a few things at once. It's this website and the corresponding source code repository. It's this drag-and-drop circuit composer interface in particular. It's a quantum circuit simulator. So all the inner workings that allow you to run quantum circuit simulations right on your phone or laptop without having actual quantum hardware in your hands. It's that entire code library and the corresponding API. It's the concept primers that are there to help you get up to speed on quantum stuff quickly. Especially if you're like me, no real physics background, no quantum background, just a casual coder with some high school math. It turns out that's all you need to get started messing around with this stuff. It's the documentation for the qJS API as well because what good is a library if you don't know how to use it? And when you put all this stuff together, there's the small but growing community of enthusiastic folks who've also fallen in love with this ridiculous idea of fusing quantum and web browsers, cause JavaScript wasn't chaotic enough on its own already. And so for this community, I'm starting something called OQC, Open Quantum Club. This is a project that I'm spinning up right now through a website that will feature profiles and interviews with folks in the quantum community. The special focus here will be on the humanity behind the math. Who are the personalities? What are our collective hopes and dreams? So stay tuned for more about that as we head towards 2023.

And okay, that's all great, right? But what exactly is quantum computing? What even is a quantum computer? This. This is a quantum computer right here. This hanging cylindrical tank that you see. There are different sorts of quantum computer architectures, polarized photons, trapped ions, superconductors. Right now, superconducting quantum computers, like you see here, are the most popular kind.

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