11
$\begingroup$

I am a first-year undergraduate electrical engineering student. I want to study quantum computing and quantum AI in the future and also possibly work on building quantum computers.

I have finished Strang's Introduction to Linear Algebra twice and Axler's Linear Algebra Done Right. I have finished MIT OCW 6.041 Probability Course. I know Calculus 1, 2, and 3 and Differential Equations.

I have 2 questions:

  1. Is my background sufficient for studying quantum computing?
  2. Where should I start/which materials do you suggest?
$\endgroup$
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I would just like to say that as a highschool student who has learned the basics of quantum computing - yes, your background is sufficient. If you are willing to learn, you can learn. $\endgroup$ – heather Jun 30 at 15:18
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Take a startup approach and just start. Then when you find certain knowledge gaps fill those in as you go. This is the best way of making sure you learn exactly what you need to accomplish x $\endgroup$ – Outsider Jul 1 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ If you're planning on going through university in an EE/ECE stream, you'll need to study some physics if you're interested in the hardware side. Your question isn't clear whether you are interested in hardware or algorithms/software only. You'd do well with some physics just the same, but doubly so if you really want to understand and/or develop hardware. $\endgroup$ – J... Jul 1 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ You can read Q is for Quantum with almost no background, and it is a real introduction to quantum computing. I also recommend checking out Quantum Computing since Democritus at some point. $\endgroup$ – littleO Jul 1 at 19:27
15
$\begingroup$

I am working on a textbook that is currently in Early Access called Learn Quantum Computing with Python and Q#. It is intended for folks who want to learn how to program for a quantum computer, and learn the basics of how a quantum computer works along the way. Only knowledge prerequisites are programming in some language (Python helps but not really required) and the basics of Linear Algebra (multiple matrices and vectors sort of stuff). My co-author @chris-granade and I would love feedback on what is currently out on the forums associated with the book, and there are discount codes floating around for conferences and podcasts and such, hmu on dm and I can find one for ya!

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I will be interested on seeing the book too. I am too learning about quantum computing as well. Please let me know! $\endgroup$ – Enrique Segura Jun 30 at 23:10
  • $\begingroup$ @DrSarahKaiser , when do you expect your book to be finished? You got me hooked, and I was very disappointed not to be able to read the entire thing :/ $\endgroup$ – TheCatWhisperer Jul 1 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ Our target is early next year, but new chapters will be released as we finish them along the way. Working on some stuff on quantum key distribution and working more with single qubits at the moment 😁 I am so glad you liked them and I am excited for you to read more soon! $\endgroup$ – Dr. Sarah Kaiser Jul 1 at 21:37
3
$\begingroup$

I am also an undergraduate hoping to start a career in quantum computing someday. I'm a physics student who became interested in the subject about a year ago, and these are some things that helped me build a foundation.

In terms of background, linear algebra is the only course that is essential for understanding the basics of the subject. The reason is that computation can be simplified as a series of matrices (called gates) acting on a particular vector (called the state). A course in quantum mechanics will be necessary for more advanced studies and many applications of quantum computing, but you are perfectly qualified to start learning the basics without such a course.

In terms of resources, my advice is to start with something lighter than a textbook for your first introduction. I highly recommend the Microsoft Q# Support Docs, especially the "Quantum Computing Concepts" articles found here. If you're looking to start programming, Q# will be very difficult to learn without background in C# and a functional programming language, so it may not be the right language to start out on. It's nothing against the language, but it was hard for me since I had never used C# and had trouble reading the language-specific docs before my functional programming course. I personally have a lot of training in Python, so languages like Google's Cirq or IBM's Qiskit were more natural choices for me.

Once you've gone through a few of those articles on the basics, that's when I would pick up a textbook. Someone has already mentioned "Mike and Ike" (Quantum Computation and Quantum Information by Michael Nielsen and Isaac Chuang) which is one of the most highly regarded books on the subject. Another I'd like to mention is Quantum Computer Science: An Introduction by N. David Mermin, which is pretty accessible for someone without a background in quantum mechanics, at least for a few chapters. No book is going to be right for everyone, so just try a few and see what makes sense for you.

My last piece of advice is to find a friend to work through material with or a professor to help walk you through particularly difficult topics. Something to remember throughout your academic career is that math, and related fields, is better with a guide.

Good luck!

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

I would definitely say go for it. I have a lot less experience and math knowledge than you do, but I have been able to learn the basics. There is certainly some stuff that goes over my head, but I think you would be well prepared. The one area where you may need more study is logic and classical computer science. Having knowledge, even somewhat basic knowledge, here definitely helps. I started out with Chris Bernhardt's Quantum Computing for Everyone. This may be too simple for you, but it gave me a good entry point.

In the end, I think it's your interest and enthusiasm that matters most, so, if you're fascinated by the subject, pursue it!

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

Understanding the basic theory of quantum computing should be within reach. If you understand linear algebra, then math will not be your stumbling block. Quantum mechanics shouldn't be either — while you do need to exploit some of its machinery, you do not need a deep understanding to get started. Most introductory QC resources will build up the essential ideas of superposition, measurement, unitary operators, and the concept of entanglement.

Engineering quantum computers is another story. If you want to do that then you will need to know much more about quantum mechanics proper. But the basic theory of quantum computing should still come first.

If you're getting started, you should check out the on brilliant.org (brilliant.org/courses/quantum-computing, the first chapter is free). Full disclosure, I co-wrote this course out of frustration with the state of available QC learning options. It takes you from learning what a qubit is up to present-day realizations of quantum computing (hybrid classical/quantum approaches like VQE).

Along the way, you investigate quantum gates, build basic quantum information processing circuits (e.g. teleportation and superdense coding), see clear examples of quantum speedups, and understand the major classes of quantum algorithms. You learn the math, but it also has simulated quantum computer embedded in the course, so you can internalize what's going on. You'll also learn how to program quantum algorithms in Microsoft's Q# language and use it to build out a basic application in quantum chemistry.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

The more you know about math, programming, quantum physics, etc. the better, but this field is new for everyone involved. We are all constantly learning so I guess you should do OK. Having said that, I would recommend you to develop your programming skills (Python is widely used in this realm) and start reading the stuff provided online by companies that are developing quantum computers such as IBM, Rigetti and D-Wave. That will get you started. Good luck.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

I think it would be best if you start reading Mike and Ike. Buy the hard copy. Go through the exercises. This would be sufficient to read the papers. The further reading section would provide starting points from where it would be suitable to enter the literature.

For the programming aspects best place to start is Qutip

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

I would also recommend looking up Jack Hidary's new book "Quantum Computing: An Applied Approach" which provides a very hands-on approach for learning the basics (and more).

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Yes. We need to have an aptitude for the subject to learn. Seems, you have a keen desire to learn quantum physics based computing.

The future of the computing technology is quantum, the digital computing will be a past and will be known as dumb technology of 0's and 1's very soon.

Your interest for quantum computing is more than enough to go deep into the subject.

Go through the latest journals and research work on quantum computings. Nonetheless, the Springer publication books are also good for a self study. We could get a lot of other references too in these books.

Free previews of the few books are available online:

$\endgroup$
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ The future of the computing technology is quantum, the digital computing will be a past and will be known as dumb technology of 0's and 1's very soon. is highly subjective and even the contrary of what several (most of the?) people in quantum computing think. The point of view I am hearing the most today is "quantum hardware will be used as an accelerator, just like how we use GPUs today". Anyway, classical computing is far from being superseded by quantum computing. Books are good, but quite expensive. I agree that once you will be able to understand them, reading papers is the best. $\endgroup$ – Nelimee Jul 1 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ Right. The hardware simulation will be digital for few decades, but the core computing technology will be more and more quantum-ready and quantum-enabled by 2020. $\endgroup$ – user30612 Jul 1 at 8:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Nelimee The state of a piece of data on a normal computer is known with certainty logic of either 'yes' or 'no" states, but quantum computation uses further states of probabilities of the spin state electrons either +1/2 or -1/2, for example. Only very simple quantum computers have been built, although larger designs have been invented. Quantum computation uses a special type of physics, quantum physics, which itself is based on exclusion principles, probability theories, uncertainty principles and eccentric algorithms. The future of quantum computing, however is beautiful and interesting. $\endgroup$ – user30612 Jul 1 at 9:53
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ You do not need to explain that to me, I am currently working full time on quantum algorithms & implementation. I am just saying that, from my point of view, quantum hardware will only replace classical hardware for very specific tasks (such as integer factoring for example), but not for generic tasks. $\endgroup$ – Nelimee Jul 1 at 11:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.