From November 18-20th, 2019, 170 physicists, computer scientists, and quantum computing enthusiasts gathered in Hoshino Resort Yatsugatake in Japan for Qiskit Camp Asia 2019. After 24 hours of coding, writing, and great food, we designed and implemented a pulse programming language for Qiskit!
And we won!
It was an amazing experience! This is my second Qiskit Camp and every time it just gets bigger, better, more fun, and more impactful.
Qiskit Camp Asia
Every Qiskit Camp, the structure changes a bit, so this experience might not be entirely the same as the next camps. However, these tips below should give you some idea of what to expect. Feel free to comment with any other questions!
Choosing a project
Pick a project you're excited about. Don't pick a project just because you think it's going to win. I've been drawn to more open ended projects in the hackathons, and that gave us some freedom with our final product and adapt it based on the skillsets on the team. It's ok if you don't have a project idea, because every Qiskit Camp starts out with a pitch session and team formation. There are plenty of projects looking for team members!For Qiskit Camp specifically, it doesn't matter if you choose a project that has you building something for Qiskit itself (like our pulse programming language) or create something that uses Qiskit (Quantum Image Processing won second place!) Either of those has a chance to win.
Put together a diverse team
Qiskit Camp is great because there's a mix of physicists, computer scientists, and free agents to work with. A successful hackathon team tends to have a diverse group of people. Having a team with different expertises means you can split up the work according to your strengths.
Hackathons are team events, so coordination and planning at the beginning can save you a lot of stress. I always opened a Google document and started recording ideas, notes from the coaches about the problem or Qiskit itself, bite size steps to take, and potential deliverables.Is your goal to have code and a pull request ready to go? Do you want a clean Jupyter Notebook with experimental results by the end of the hackathon? Break down that deliverable into pieces. For example, for our project where designing a pulse programming language, the first thing we worked on was the design itself of the language and the proposal. Then, we moved on to doing the experiments and getting examples of our new imagined pulse programming language. After that, we started coding. Even if we had gotten no code in, then at least we would have the proposal and experiments that we were proud of. All these pieces contributed to our final results.
Think about the presentation early
The presentation is important! This is a chance to showcase your work. Think about your motivation for your projects, talk about what you actually completed, and what future work could be. The pitch is only three minutes, which means you have to practice your presentation. Three minutes is shorter than you think!If you scroll down further, you can see our presentation from Qiskit Camp Asia 2019.
Sleep and have fun!
It's not about winning a prize. It's about learning something new, making friends, and enjoying building something with a team. Remember spend your time getting to know people and getting outside! There were a few announcements bugging us to enjoy the fresh air and remember to eat. And, most importantly, have fun!
See all the teams from Qiskit Camp Asia 2019 here: https://github.com/qiskit-community/qiskit-camp-asia-19/issues/
P.S. I was so busy at this hackathon that I didn't record a vlog :( I'm so glad you all enjoyed it though, and will DEFINITELY vlog more!