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College Courses For Quantum Computing? 17

Tyler asks: "I'm currently an undergrad engineering student at a respectable school, and right now I'm pretty sure I'm majoring in CompE. I'd really like to do some work with Quantum computers in the future, but I don't know what exactly makes up a good quantum-computing engineer, so I want to take some courses over the next few years to become familiar with the science. What courses should I be taking?"
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College Courses For Quantum Computing?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think these books might be of some interest.

    Feynman, Richard Feynman Lectures on Computation

    This book starts with a basic introduction to computing (i.e. architecture, organization, theory of computation) and ends with several chapters on the physics of computing (including quantum computing). The author, as many of you may know, was world reknowned for his contributions to physics.

    Davis, Martin The Universal Computer: The Road from Leibniz to Turing

    This book is the best layman's book on the logic behind computing. The author is a noted mathematician on the subject as well. This book has some of the layman's explaination of Turing Machines, Cantor's diagonal method, Godel's Incompleteness Thoerem and other related mathematics. However, the focus of this book is the mathematical development of computation. It is ancedotial, yet the author even found a way to explain some of the mathematics on a layperson level. I liken it to Godel, Escher, and Bach.

  • To really get a solid background on quantum computing, you will want to expand your exposure to physics. You may even want to double major.

    At the very least, expect to do a masters or PhD in physics.
  • The place to go is Oxford University, see here [qubit.org]. Oxford is home to David Deutsch and Artur Ekert, two of the most seminal contributors to the theory of quantum computation.
  • Comp Eng at the unergrad level is gonna deal mostly with traditional stuff and not give you much about quantum. If you really wanna get into quantum computing research, learn about quantum physics first. A friend here at my school also wants to do quantum computing work, and he's dual majoring in physics and math and going to do his masters in comp sci afterwards.
  • It doesn't matter which course you choose. According to one popular interpretation of QM there are multiple versions of you in parallel universes taking every possible combination of courses.

    Seriously though, don't you think you're jumping the gun just a tad? It's not clear at this point whether working quantum computers can ever be built.

  • The university of Texas at Austin [utexas.edu] does a lot of research in the area, so they might be a place to start.
  • by nomadic ( 141991 )
    right now I'm pretty sure I'm majoring in CompE

    You don't know what you're majoring in!? Look on your transcript, they might tell you.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

  • sounds like real bullshit. sorry, but it had to be said. in order to really understand quantum computing (to the end of designing quantum computers), you have to know the subtleties of quantum mechanics, advanced mathematics, etc. etc. maybe this class will tell you "what quantum computing is like," but i don't think it is what he is looking for.
  • beside programming, try to dig into mathematics (not calculus please :) .. number analysis will work fine), high-level physics, low-level programming and get a good knowledge of hardware (electronics).

    ..have fun :)
  • Professor Lee Spector at Hampshire College [hampshire.edu] is currently teaching a course in Quantum Computing for undergraduates entitled Quantum Computing with No Prerequsites of any kind. [hampshire.edu]

  • First I would submit that among those who know, not scifi authors, the most popular interpritation is called decoherence. Essentially, the reality we percive is made up of the beats in the multitude of wave equations. But the best interpritation might be the Copenhagen version. The underlying reality doesn't really matter outside of a conceptual tool. I would say the multiple universe version is silly, and more appropriate for bad fiction. But that's me. There are also version in which time is an illusion created by our consiousness shifting from the moment of one universe to a slightly different universe. Again, I think this is crap. I tend to be of the opinion the decoherence is a much more elegant interpritation. Once again none of that is important, what does matter is that if one of the many different conceptual tools helps you see the world in a different way, that's swell. Much like a paintling, the particular interpritation changes the viewer, not the subject it represents.
  • If you are at a respectable school, some of your professors will be able to guide you to which classes you should take. If they can't, are you really at a respectable school?
  • I took a small course in my university on quantum computers, lead by a physics professor. Right now, it seems, most advances in the theorical field (the technology seems to involve a mix of physics and chemistry) deal with quantum physics and linear algebra (is it called that in the states? I mean calculations on vectors, linear spaces, etc.) You should really get a solid grip on those subjects before advancing on Quantum computers.
  • I tried looking for Quantum Mechanics courses at your school (Purdue, right?) and the only class I could find that deals with Quantum Computing is PHYS 470O [purdue.edu]. This doesn't seem like a hardcore quantum computing course though.

    My school offers a grad-level Quantum Computing class (that of course can be taken by undergrads), Ph/CS 219 [caltech.edu], which ya may wanna check out. The page seems to have some pretty useful information, including lecture notes, homeworks, references, etc. Its prerequisites [caltech.edu] are Ph 129, a class on Mathematical Methods of Physics, which in turn has the prerequisites Ph 106 (Topics in Classical Physics), and ACM 95 (Introductory Methods of Applied Mathematics) or Ma 108 (Classical Analysis).

  • I'd say the best start you could get on quantum computing would be to study just plain old computer engineering.

    My reasoning is this: if you learn about quantum computing, that's what you'll know. However, if you know the very basics, the "first principles" of computer engineering, then you can apply it to quantum computing, or anything else that comes along.

    Quantum computers are so far out right now that no undergrad course (IMNSHO) should even touch it, save for purely interest's sake. If you're really cranked about quantum computers, finish your comp eng degree, and get into a master's or Ph.D. doing quantum computer work. Then you'll actually be *developing* the quantum computer, instead of just learning where it's at right now, which will be A) useless, and B) outdated in 2 years.

    Build yourself a foundation, and then you'll have something to launch yourself off into quantum computing with. Good luck!

    Mr. Ska

    I slit a sheet
    A sheet I slit

  • The solving the wave equation is fun. Math will be your bestest friend. So I'll break up my specific list.

    Math Obviously you'll want to go pretty far, as most of the harder courses will rely greatly on this. Calculus is a given, the Differential Equations, and Multi variable Differential Vector Calculus. A statistics with calculus course might be nice to help introduce some of the nomenclature.

    Physics You be required to take all the basics. But as electives you'll probably end up with either Thermal Physics (which is usually Thermodynamics for dummies) or a course in Relativity as a precurser to Quantum Physics (probably titled Modern Physics). You might want to look at some classes that focus on Solid State physics, like electronic properties of materials where you learn about holes. Many of these will be found in one of the engineering programs, or joint between them.

    Chemistry You'll obviously take the basics, but will want to skip all the organic crap, that won't be useful to you. As one of your electives you'll probably want to take 1 or 2 Physical Chemistry classes. This will be some in depth shit, and pretty hard. (at least for me) Some of it won't pertain to exactly your designs but you'll know the math, nomenclature, and rules backwards and forewards when you're done.

    Engineering Most of the truly difficult classes will be here. Any classes that are dealing with quantum computing specifically will be senior electives in either EE or CompE. But more important is finding a Professor you REALLY identify with, like and who likes you in your department. You don't want someone who will lie to you to get you out of their office because you're not as valuable as their time. You want someone who's at least respected by their peers, but preferably liked. You want to ask often about things you can do to further your goal, and perhaps if you could attend a graduate level class (these are more individualized and you'll nearly count as 3/5ths human, but require a lot of really hard work). But I can't overestimate the importance of finding a professor to be an ally. The smaller the department the more important this might be.

  • by SkewlD00d ( 314017 ) on Thursday February 08, 2001 @05:19AM (#447339)

    Follow this link [ucdavis.edu] to check out a class offered at UC Davis. Btw, my roommate is an undergrad research assistant to Prof. Chong. I've seen some of the lectures, pretty crazy stuff. My advise is to take lots of EE, CS, math and physics coursed, esp. Quantum.

    That's my 2x10-2 [USD] :)

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp