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Q# Programming Language

Q# (pronounced as Q sharp) is a domain-specific programming language used for expressing quantum algorithms. It was initially released to the public by Microsoft as part of the Quantum Development Kit.

A Q# program recombines these operations as defined by a target machine to create new, higher-level operations to express quantum computation. In this way, Q# makes it easy to express the logic underlying quantum and hybrid quantum–classical algorithms, while also being general with respect to the structure of a target machine or simulator.


A simple example is the following program, which allocates one qubit in the |0⟩|0⟩ state, then applies a Hadamard operation H to it and measures the result in the PauliZ basis.


operation MeasureOneQubit() : Result {
  // The following using block creates a fresh qubit and initializes it
  // in the |0〉 state.
    use qubit = Qubit();
  // We apply a Hadamard operation H to the state, thereby preparing the
  // state 1 / sqrt(2) (|0〉 + |1〉).
  // Now we measure the qubit in Z-basis.
    let result = M(qubit);
  // As the qubit is now in an eigenstate of the measurement operator,
  // we reset the qubit before releasing it.
    if result == One 
    // Finally, we return the result of the measurement.
      return result;


During a Microsoft Ignite Keynote on September 26, 2017, Microsoft announced that they were going to release a new programming language geared specifically towards quantum computers. On December 11, 2017, Microsoft released Q# as a part of the Quantum Development Kit.

At Build 2019, Microsoft announced that it is open-sourcing the Quantum Development Kit, including its Q# compilers and simulators.


Q# is available as a separately downloaded extension for Visual Studio, but it can also be run as an independent tool from the Command line and/or Visual Studio Code. The Quantum Development Kit ships with a quantum simulator which is capable of running Q#.

In order to invoke the quantum simulator, another .NET programming language, usually C#, is used, which provides the (classical) input data for the simulator and reads the (classical) output data from the simulator.


A primary feature of Q# is the ability to create and use qubits for algorithms. As a consequence, some of the most prominent features of Q# are the ability to entangle and introduce superpositioning to qubits via Controlled NOT gates and Hadamard gates, respectively, as well as Toffoli Gates, Pauli X, Y, Z Gate, and many more which are used for a variety of operations; see the list at the article on quantum logic gates.

The hardware stack that will eventually come together with Q# is expected to implement Qubits as topological qubits. The quantum simulator that is shipped with the Quantum Development Kit today is capable of processing up to 32 qubits on a user machine and up to 40 qubits on Azure.

Similarities with C#

  • Uses namespace for code isolation

  • All statements end with a ;

  • Curly braces are used for statements of scope

  • Single line comments are done using //

  • Variable data types such as Int Double String and Bool are similar, although capitalised (and Int is 64-bit)

  • Qubits are allocated and disposed inside a using block.

  • Lambda functions using the => operator.

  • Results are returned using the return keyword.

Similarities with F#

  • Variables are declared using either let or mutable

  • First-order functions

  • Modules, which are imported using the open keyword

  • The datatype is declared after the variable name

  • The range operator ..

  • for … in loops

  • Every operation/function has a return value, rather than void. Instead of void, an empty Tuple () is returned.

  • Definition of record datatypes (using the newtype keyword, instead of type).


  • Functions are declared using the function keyword

  • Operations on the quantum computer are declared using the operation keyword

  • Lack of multiline comments

  • Asserts instead of throwing exceptions

  • Documentation is written in Markdown instead of XML-based documentation tags

Source: Wikipedia

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