The Q# Programming Language


A natural model for quantum computation is to treat the quantum computer as a coprocessor, similar to that used for GPUs, FPGAs, and other adjunct processors. The primary control logic runs classical code on a classical "host" computer. When appropriate and necessary, the host program can invoke a sub-program that runs on the adjunct processor. When the sub-program completes, the host program gets access to the sub-program's results.

In this model, there are three levels of computation:

  • Classical computation that reads input data, sets up the quantum computation, triggers the quantum computation, processes the results of the computation, and presents the results to the user.
  • Quantum computation that happens directly in the quantum device and implements a quantum algorithm.
  • Classical computation that is required by the quantum algorithm during its execution.

There is no intrinsic requirement that these three levels all be written in the same language. Indeed, quantum computation has somewhat different control structures and resource management needs than classical computation, so using a custom programming language allows common patterns in quantum algorithms to be expressed more naturally.

Keeping classical computations separate means that the quantum programming language may be very constrained. These constraints may allow better optimization or faster execution of the quantum algorithm.

Q# (Q-sharp) is a domain-specific programming language used for expressing quantum algorithms. It is to be used for writing sub-programs that execute on an adjunct quantum processor, under the control of a classical host program and computer.

Q# provides a small set of primitive types, along with two ways (arrays and tuples) for creating new, structured types. It supports a basic procedural model for writing programs, with loops and if/then statements. The top-level constructs in Q# are user defined types, operations, and functions.

The following sections detail: