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I'm a bachelor in Mechanical Engineering, currently pursuing Masters in Nanotechnology. I am interested to pursue a career in the field of quantum computing. I have got a basic understanding of electronics and quantum mechanics. But poor understanding in the area of computer science.

What qualities/prerequisites are required to pursue a career in the above-mentioned field? Will my weakness in computer science pose any hurdles in the future?

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  • $\begingroup$ You can always pick up Computer Science over time. Would be necessary to understand the theoretical aspects. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Aug 30 '18 at 8:52
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    $\begingroup$ It really depends on which aspects of qc you want to work on. Spintronics as per your question: No. $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Aug 30 '18 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Blue Your recent edit (retagging) doesn't help. First, I'd say a tag making clear that this question is about career advice is relevant, and second, there is no "spinotronics". (Do you mean spintronics? Even that's only indirectly related to QI/QC - "spin qubit" or the like is much more relevant. Spintronics can just as well include classical electronics using spin physics.) $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Sep 3 '18 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ 1. I'm not sure we should have a "career advice" type tag here since those tend to attract extremely opinion based questions. You may raise a question about it on meta. I might do it as well, when I will get the time. 2. Yes, that was a spelling error. Corrected it now. 3. This is a "Quantum Computing" site, so it should be quite obvious to anybody that they should only ask spintronics questions relevant/related to quantum computing. 4. I am fine with adding a "spin-qubits" tag. Feel free to re-add it. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Sep 3 '18 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ @NorbertSchuch Well, if others are okay with a career-advice tag, I don't have much to say. But I was a bit hesitant about it, especially because we wouldn't want this site to turn into another Quora :P Anyhow, made a meta post about it just now. $\endgroup$ – Sanchayan Dutta Sep 3 '18 at 23:30
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If you are pursuing a Masters and are interested in pursuing a career in quantum computing research, the next step would be to do a PhD.

Most PhD students in quantum computing lack strength in some area of quantum information science. People that enter their PhD with an undergrad in CS might have a weak background in physics, people with a background in physics might have a weak background in cryptography, people with a background in pure mathematics might have a weak background in engineering.

Most PhD programs will give you plenty of time to take CS courses, and you can also start reading Theory of Computation by Michael Sipser which is not very expensive (and will be in almost all university libraries) and is a beautifully written, simple, gentle introduction to many CS branches important to quantum computing such as complexity theory and cryptography, with no pre-requesites at all except for a desire to learn CS.

It also depends on what you want your focus to be. I know plenty of experimentalists in spintronics who do not know any CS and know very little math or even quantum physics, but they know how to do a very good job of their experiments. If you do want to be a world-class quantum computing researcher you should at least be familiar with the introductory topics such as complexity theory, even though spintronics itself is far less related to CS than many other quantum computing sub-fields.

I do warn you that spintronics might not be the most promising sub-field of quantum computing right now though. NMR and ESR-based quantum computing was very popular in the 90s but has died down since there are scalability issues that have kept the maximum number of spin qubits down to only 12 qubits (even with NV Centers and Phosphorus-doped Silicon, which are two slightly newer spin-based technologies which have been proposed to be more promising than more traditional NMR/ESR proposals).

Superconducting qubits are the most popular among the major quantum hardware companies right now, and likely will remain that way for the next few years (which is presumably when you'd be doing your PhD). If you don't want to work in a "crowded" area, but still want to work on something more promising than spintronics, ion-traps and photonic quantum computers are the two next most popular QC sub-fields for QC implementation.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a really wonderful answer and a wise and caring career advice. $\endgroup$ – David Bar Moshe Sep 6 '18 at 6:48
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    $\begingroup$ I was the first upvoter of this answer. I just wrote the remark later, and yes I believe this is true. $\endgroup$ – David Bar Moshe Sep 13 '18 at 6:12

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