16 March 2023

By Alex  |  

How to start quantum machine learning: A beginner’s guide

How to start Quantum Machine Learning_ A beginner's guide - BI

By Alex Paulen

category : Developers

ON : 16 March 2023

QML (QML) is an emerging field at the intersection of quantum computing and machine learning. It seeks to leverage the unique properties of quantum systems to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of machine-learning algorithms. The potential applications of QML are vast, including drug discovery, financial modeling, and natural language processing.

Below are some of the key concepts and terms used in Quantum Machine Learning:

1. Qubits:

Also known as quantum bits, these are the fundamental units of quantum computing. They can exist in multiple states simultaneously, allowing quantum computers to perform certain operations faster than classical computers.

2. Superposition

Superposition is a quantum mechanical phenomenon that allows qubits to exist simultaneously in multiple states. This characteristic is used in quantum algorithms to perform multiple computations in parallel.

3. Entanglement

Another quantum mechanical phenomenon where two qubits become linked so that one qubit’s state depends on the other’s. It is utilized in quantum algorithms to perform impossible operations with classical computers.

4. Quantum gates

Quantum gates are the building blocks of quantum algorithms and are similar to classical logic gates but operate on qubits instead of classical bits.

5. Quantum circuit

A quantum circuit is a sequence of quantum gates that operate on a set of qubits. Quantum circuits are used to implement quantum algorithms.

QML Algorithms

QML algorithms use quantum computing principles to solve machine learning problems. These algorithms offer several advantages over classical machine learning algorithms, including the ability to perform computations in parallel and to solve problems that are difficult for classical computers.

Best known QML algorithms include:

  • Quantum Principal Component Analysis:
    QPCA is a quantum algorithm that can reduce dimensionality on large datasets. It works by using quantum mechanics to compute the principal components of a dataset, which can help reduce the data’s complexity and make it easier to analyze. For certain applications, especially those involving big datasets, QPCA is more effective than traditional PCA.
  • Quantum Support Vector Machines:
    QSVM is a quantum algorithm that can be used for binary classification problems. It works by mapping the input data to a quantum state and then performing a series of quantum operations on the state to find the best boundary between the two classes. QSVM has the potential to outperform conventional SVMs for some tasks, especially those requiring high-dimensional feature spaces.
  • Quantum Neural Networks:
    Classical neural networks inspire QNNs. They use quantum circuits to perform operations on qubits and can be used for classification and pattern recognition tasks. QNNs have a number of benefits over traditional neural networks, including the capacity to handle big data in parallel.
  • Quantum Clustering Algorithms:
    QCA is a QML algorithm that can identify groups or clusters within a dataset. These quantum clustering algorithms have the ability to solve problems that are difficult for classical computers.
  • Variational Quantum Algorithms:
    VQAs are a class of quantum algorithms that use classical optimization techniques to find the best solution to a problem. They can be used for various machine-learning tasks, including optimization, classification, and clustering.
  • Quantum Boltzmann Machines:
    QBMs are a class of quantum algorithms used for unsupervised learning tasks such as clustering and feature learning. They are based on the principles of statistical mechanics and use quantum annealing to find the minimum-energy state of a system.

Tools & Frameworks for Quantum Machine Learning

These tools and frameworks provide a set of libraries, software development kits, and other resources that enable researchers and developers to design and test QML algorithms on quantum computers. 

Popular QML frameworks

Several popular QML frameworks are available today, each with unique features and capabilities. These frameworks provide a range of tools for building and training quantum neural networks, simulating quantum circuits, optimizing quantum algorithms, and more. Choosing the right framework for a given project will depend on factors such as the specific problem being addressed, the level of quantum hardware available, and the user’s expertise.


Developer Main Features Hardware Support




Building and training quantum neural networks, support for quantum optimization, and chemistry Various quantum hardware platforms, including IBM, Rigetti, and Honeywell Python

Microsoft Quantum Development Kit


A set of programming languages, libraries, and simulators for building and testing quantum applications, with interfaces for connecting to real quantum hardware Microsoft Q# quantum simulator, as well as interfaces for connecting to Azure Quantum

C#, Python, F#, and other .NET languages

IBM Quantum Development Kit


A collection of tools for developing and testing quantum applications, including programming languages, libraries, and simulators, as well as interfaces for interfacing with actual quantum hardware. IBM Quantum Experience, as well as interfaces for connecting to IBM Quantum systems through Qiskit

Python, Swift, and other languages

Qiskit Machine Learning


Libraries and tools for designing and exercising QML algorithms on IBM quantum computers IBM Quantum Experience, as well as interfaces for connecting to IBM Quantum systems through Qiskit


TensorFlow Quantum


Integrating quantum computing with conventional machine learning, these libraries and tools facilitate the creation and execution of hybrid quantum-classical machine learning algorithms. Various quantum hardware platforms, including Google’s Sycamore processor




QML algorithm development and testing libraries and tools that work with a wide range of quantum hardware Various quantum hardware platforms, including Google’s Sycamore processor



Rigetti Computing

Access to Rigetti’s quantum computing platform’s tools for creating and executing QML algorithms, as well as for constructing and testing quantum circuits Rigetti quantum computing platform


Strawberry Fields


Software packages for developing and deploying light-wave algorithms for continuous variables in quantum machine learning Various quantum hardware platforms, including IBM and Rigetti


These are only a few popular QML frameworks summarised in the table above. These provide resources for developing and training quantum neural networks, designing and analyzing quantum circuits on different hardware platforms, and implementing continuous-variable QML algorithms using light-wave. They support several programming languages, including Python, C#, and Swift, and offer interfaces connecting to actual quantum hardware and simulators for testing quantum applications.

By choosing the most appropriate framework for their needs, developers can harness the power of quantum computing to tackle complex problems in machine learning, chemistry, optimization, and problems from other domains.

Comparison of different tools and frameworks

Choosing the right tool or framework for QML can be challenging, as many available options have varying features and capabilities. Here is a comparison of some of the most popular tools and frameworks for quantum machine learning:

1. Microsoft QDK vs IBM QDK: 

Microsoft QDK and IBM QDK are powerful tools for developing quantum applications, including QML algorithms. However, they use different programming languages – the Microsoft QDK uses Q#, while the IBM QDK uses Qiskit. Both frameworks offer simulators and interfaces for connecting to real quantum hardware; the Microsoft QDK includes a powerful quantum simulator, while the IBM QDK offers a range of simulators for different use cases. 

In terms of community support and documentation, both QDKs have active and growing communities.

2. Qiskit Machine Learning vs TensorFlow Quantum: 

Both frameworks enable the integration of quantum computing with classical machine learning. Nonetheless, their emphasis is on different things – Qiskit Machine Learning is specifically designed for developing QML algorithms on IBM quantum computers, while TensorFlow Quantum provides a more general-purpose framework that can be used with various quantum computing platforms.

Qiskit Machine Learning offers a range of algorithms and tools for quantum ML, while TensorFlow Quantum provides a set of libraries for designing and running hybrid quantum-classical machine learning algorithms.

3. Rigetti Forest vs Xanadu Pennylane: 

Forest and Pennylane have different strengths – Rigetti Forest is focused on developing and deploying QML algorithms on Rigetti’s quantum computing platform. At the same time, Xanadu Pennylane offers tools for designing and executing QML algorithms on various quantum computing platforms, including IBM Qiskit, Google Cirq, and Rigetti Forest. 

Both frameworks have active and growing communities, with documentation and support available.

4. Cirq vs Strawberry Fields

Cirq and Strawberry Fields are open-source frameworks for quantum computing that include tools for developing and testing QML algorithms. However, they have different focuses – Cirq provides a set of libraries and tools for designing and running quantum circuits on various quantum computing platforms. In contrast, Strawberry Fields is focused on designing and simulating continuous-variable quantum machine learning algorithms. 

*Both frameworks are powerful and have rapidly expanding communities, but they serve different use cases.

Use case of Quantum Machine Learning

Here are some examples of QML being used in the industry:

1. Financial Services

Financial institutions, including JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, have invested in QML to improve their trading strategies and optimize their portfolios. They use QML algorithms to analyze large amounts of financial data, predict market trends and risks, and identify profitable trading opportunities.

2. Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical companies, such as Biogen and Pfizer, are using QML to accelerate the drug discovery process. They use QML algorithms to simulate the behavior of molecules and predict how they will interact with potential drug targets. This helps them to design new compounds and identify potential drug candidates more quickly and efficiently.

QML can help accelerate the drug discovery process by predicting the behavior of molecules and designing new compounds. QML algorithms can simulate the behavior of molecules on quantum computers, allowing researchers to predict how they will interact with potential drug targets. This can save significant time and resources in the drug discovery process.

3. Energy

Generation, transmission and distribution of energy are all optimized with the use of QML in the energy industry. QML algorithms are used by energy businesses to do data analysis, forecast future energy demand, and optimize energy production and distribution to minimize waste and maximize efficiency.

4. Automotive

Automotive companies use QML to improve manufacturing processes and develop more efficient and sustainable vehicles. They use QML algorithms to analyze data from sensors, optimize manufacturing processes, and improve the performance of electric and autonomous vehicles.

5. Portfolio Optimization

By foreseeing market tendencies and hazards, QML allows investors to fine-tune their portfolios. The algorithms can process vast quantities of financial data and model the performance of investment portfolios in various market environments. So, investors may make more educated choices and lower their risk profiles.

6. Traffic Optimization

QML can improve urban transportation by identifying congestion patterns and suggesting other routes. The algorithms analyze current traffic data to foresee where bottlenecks may form and suggest different routes to avoid them. This has the potential to decrease congestion and speed up travel times.

7. Supply Chain Optimization

By estimating future demand and pinpointing areas of inefficiency, QML can be utilized to make supply chains more efficient. The algorithms can forecast the demand for the product and optimize the supply chain to best satisfy that need by evaluating the data provided by the suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors. It has the power to aid in the reduction of waste and the improvement of supply chain efficiency.

8. Quantum Image and Speech Recognition

The ability of QML to analyze Big data and enhance recognition accuracy can help improve image and voice recognition. The ability of QML algorithms to handle input such as images and audio in real time enables far quicker and more accurate detection.

Getting Started with Quantum Machine Learning

Setting up a quantum computing environment requires a few key steps. Here is a general overview of what is required:

1. Understand the Basics of Quantum Computing

Before setting up a quantum computing environment, it is essential to have a basic understanding of quantum computing. Understanding quantum mechanics, linear algebra, and computer science would be best. Additionally, it is important to know quantum programming languages.

2. Choose a Quantum Computing Platform

Several quantum computing platforms are available, including IBM Quantum, Microsoft Quantum, and Google Quantum. Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, so it is essential to evaluate them based on your specific needs. 

For example, IBM Quantum has a user-friendly interface and provides access to various quantum computers, while Microsoft Quantum provides a more robust development environment.

3. Install Quantum Development Kits (QDKs)

Once you have chosen a quantum computing platform, you must install the Quantum Development Kit (QDK). QDKs include quantum programming languages, libraries, and tools that allow you to develop and execute quantum programs.

4. Configure the Environment

After installing the QDK, you must configure the environment by setting up the necessary software and hardware components. This includes configuring the quantum computer and simulator and any additional software libraries required for your quantum programs.

5. Develop and Execute Quantum Programs

Once the environment is set up, you can start developing and executing quantum programs. You can use quantum programming languages like Qiskit or Cirq to develop and execute quantum algorithms on the quantum computer or simulator.

6. Debug and Optimize Programs

Debugging and optimizing quantum programs can be challenging, as quantum computing is complex and error-prone. It is essential to thoroughly test and debug your programs and optimize them to minimize errors and maximize performance.

Resources for learning quantum machine learning

Learning QML can be a challenging but rewarding experience.

1. Online Courses:

Online courses are an excellent way to learn quantum machine learning, offered by edX, Coursera, and Udemy. Some popular courses include QML by IBM and Introduction to Quantum Computing by Microsoft Quantum.

2. Books:

There are several books available that cover quantum machine learning, including “Quantum Machine Learning: What Quantum Computing Means to Data Mining” by Peter Wittek, “Quantum Computing for Computer Scientists” by Noson S. Yanofsky and Mirco A. Mannucci, and “Programming Quantum Computers: Essential Algorithms and Code Samples” by Eric R. Johnston, Nic Harrigan, and Mercedes Gimeno-Segovia.

3. Research Papers:

Research papers can be a valuable resource for learning quantum machine learning. Some popular papers in the field include “A Quantum-inspired Classical Algorithm for Clustering” by Lijie Fan, Yuanlong Wang, and Haohua Du and “Quantum machine learning” by Peter Wittek.

4. QML Libraries:

Multiple QML libraries are found that can help you get started with quantum machine learning. Examples include PennyLane, TensorFlow Quantum, and PyQuil.

5. Community Forums:

Joining community forums can be a great way to get help and learn from others. Examples of forums include the IBM Quantum Experience Community, Microsoft Quantum Community, and the Qiskit Slack channel.

Tips for beginners in quantum machine learning

For those interested in exploring this field, here are some common questions and tips for getting started with quantum machine learning:

1. Understand the Basics of Quantum Computing:

Before diving into quantum machine learning, you must have a basic understanding of quantum computing. This includes better grasping the concepts of quantum gates, qubits, and quantum circuits.

2. What is the prerequisite knowledge for learning quantum machine learning?

To start learning quantum machine learning, you should understand linear algebra, calculus, and probability theory well. It would help if you also had a basic understanding of quantum mechanics and quantum computing. 

Some resources to get started include online courses, textbooks, and tutorials.

3. What programming languages should I learn for quantum machine learning?

Several programming languages are used in quantum machine learning, including Python, Q#, and Qiskit. Python is a popular language for machine learning and has several libraries for quantum machine learning, such as PyQuil and PennyLane. Q# is a language designed explicitly for quantum programming, while Qiskit is a popular open-source quantum computing framework that includes QML tools.

4. How do I access quantum computing hardware for my experiments?

Several companies, including IBM, Google, and Microsoft, offer cloud-based access to quantum computing hardware. These platforms provide a range of hardware options, from small-scale quantum simulators to full-scale quantum processors. 

Additionally, many QML experiments can be run on quantum simulators, which can be run locally or accessed through cloud platforms.

5. Start with Simple Algorithms:

It is important to start with simple algorithms when learning quantum machine learning. This can help you understand the basics of QML without becoming overwhelmed.


QML algorithms offer the potential to solve problems intractable with classical algorithms and can provide significant advantages in certain use cases, from drug discovery to traffic optimization. As quantum computing technology continues to develop, we can expect to see more and more applications of QML in various industries. 

For beginners, it is important to have a basic understanding of quantum computing and classical machine learning; with the right resources and a willingness to learn, anyone can get started with QML and contribute to this exciting field.

Alex Paulen

A proficient (ML) (DL) expert specializing in designing, developing, and deploying ML and DL models. Possess a deep understanding of a wide range of ML and DL techniques, including supervised and unsupervised learning, neural networks, and computer vision.

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