Lecture 1.0 Introduction


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Quantum computing is an extremely complicated topic, one that defies logic. As you will see, even though we are introducing the concepts here and avoiding a deep dive into the math, the complexity is unavoidable. The goal of this course is to give you a 50,000-foot view of quantum computing, from its beginnings to today, what it is and what it isn’t, who the players are, how you can get your hands on it, what you can potentially expect in the future, and even how to get a job in this exciting space.

I will explain how quantum computing works, and how it works differently than traditional computing based on bits. You’ll get a small taste of quantum mechanics and physics, and how the constant management of the interference of errors is an overriding factor in almost every approach. What I ask is that you be open to what you’re going to read. As you’ll see, quantum computing is not based on the intuitive.

This course will give you the basics, even if all you know about quantum technology is whether a cat can be alive and dead at the same time.

We’ll look at: 

  • What quantum computing is—a surface look and a slightly deeper dive into the technology
  • How quantum computing and classical computing differ 
  • A brief look at quantum mechanics
  • The hardware levels involved
  • An overview of quantum computing models and platforms
  • The applications that will thrive
  • What the future will likely hold
  • How to gain hands-on experience
  • What career paths are available

CREDIT: SEEQC / seeqc.com

When I spoke with John Levy, President of SeeQC, an emerging R&D company invested in digital quantum computing, I asked him what were the basic questions that the quantum computing industry has been attempting to answer to date. Without hesitation, he recapped the work over the past five or ten years and rattled off a concise list: 

  • Can you build a quantum computer?
  • Can it run an algorithm?
  • Can it run an algorithm that has any value outside of bragging rights?
  • Can a quantum computer do anything that a classical computer cannot?

According to Levy, we can certainly answer the first question. The answer is not only yes, but you can build them using such approaches as superconducting, trapped ion, photonics, and more. You can also run an algorithm, and development of algorithms for a variety of applications is ongoing. The fourth question is a yes, depending on who you ask; in any case, it is proven that you can perform quantum computation, which is exceedingly difficult on a classical computer, even if it is not (according to some) impossible.

CREDIT: Fauxels / Pexels.com

Today’s quantum computers are expensive, not very practical, and often bizarre looking, but they exist. The infrastructure is in place for what will be exceedingly rapid advancement driven by government and corporate investment, continued academic research and exploration, and the potential for commercialization. Now that these initial questions are answered, the stage is set for what will likely appear to be an “overnight” explosion in advance.

When one looks at the timeline below and its 120 years of quantum history, the important work that scientists and researchers accomplished is overwhelming.

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