Quantum Computing for Beginners

A class for quantum enthusiasts

Month: October, 2012

Chapter 3 public release

Chapter 3 is now publicly available, in which Paul Dirac teaches you about vector spaces, inner products, and orthonormal bases.

Illustration by Stephen Rice.

Chapter 4 is also available for unlocking if you are registered for the class.

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Chapter 2 public release

Chapter 2 is now available for public download, in which we meet our heroes, Alan Turing and Richard Feynman, and they have the seed of the idea to use quantum physics for building computing machines.

Chapter 3 available for unlocking

Chapter 3 is now available for unlocking, where we finally learn how to combine single qubits into a multi-qubit register, and Dirac arrives in Goettingen for Bohr’s lecture marathon. If you are in the class, please email me your solutions to unlock this chapter.

Nobel Prize in Physics

The Nobel Prize in Physics was announced today, and it was awarded to two experimental physicists working on quantum computing: Dave Wineland, an American at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, and Serge Haroche at the College de France. Wineland has done groundbreaking work on using trapped atomic ions as quantum bits, and Haroche has done analogous work for using photons, which are quanta of light.

The prize is well-deserved by both physicists, and this is exciting news for them and the entire field of quantum computing!

Bloch sphere simulators

There are two Bloch sphere simulators that I know of available on the internet to help you visualize what happens geometrically to a qubit as a point on the surface of a Bloch sphere as well as what happens algebraically to its complex matrix elements.

The first is written in Java by Stephen Shary and Marc Cahay at the University of Cincinnati.

The second is written in Wolfram’s Computable Docment Format and requires a plugin to run.

For the purposes of this class, we won’t be covering in more detail the relationship between the geometric rotation angle and the form of the 2×2 matrix which corresponds to a single-qubit quantum gate. However, interested readers can find out more in Dave Bacon’s lecture notes, under Section 1: One Qubit. In other sources, this relationship is called the homomorphism between the groups SU(2) and SO(3), if you want to research the topic on your own, on Wikipedia or in math textbooks.

Chapter 2 available for unlock

Chapter 2 (In which we meet Turing and Feynman) is now available for unlocking if you are in the class.

You have to successfully turn in Chapter 1 homework in order to plant the idea of a quantum computer in the minds of Alan Turing and Richard Feynman.

Here are some tantalizing illustrations by Stephen Rice.

Chapter 1 public release

I’ve decided to release the chapters publicly a week or two after the students have received them.

Here is chapter the first, in which Elina meets Ehrenfest, Planck, and a quantum bit.  I’ve included some of Stephen’s great illustrations below to entice you. Any and all feedback is welcome.

Anonymous feedback form

If you’d like to give me comments, questions, and suggestions about the class without revealing your identity, please use this nifty new Catalyst anonymous e-mail form. There’s no way for me to reply to you directly, but I’ll try to address any feedback I receive in class, on the mailing list, or on this blog if appropriate.

Otherwise, you can just e-mail me at my normal school address: ppham at cs dot washington dot edu.