A possible study path to learn it
Article published on 01/07/2020 By Donata Petrelli and licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IT (Creative Common – Attribuzione – Non commerciale – Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia)
From the era of room-sized computers to modern smartphones, technology has developed a lot. However, today, this level does not seem to be quite enough. In general, there are two limits: space and time. On the one hand, it is not possible to reduce integrated electronic circuits yet, and on the other hand, calculations are carried out one at a time. These two conditions make it impossible to reach the calculation speed necessary to solve complex problems.
The revolutionary idea to solve these problems comes from quantum physics: apply quantum theory to computers! With the advent of quantum computing and quantum computers the limits of the traditional processor can be exceeded and technology can progress to new discoveries. That is why studying quantum computing is important, to be active spectators of the next epochal change.
This short article proposes a hypothetical study path that, starting from the basics, leads to a deeper and more practical knowledge of the topic, including also useful suggestions to expand vertical content related to Quantum computing.
What is Quantum computing
Overcoming the limits of modern processors requires a paradigm shift and thinking about a new underlying calculation model. As often happens, the new model can be taken from another sector or discipline.
The observation of the laws of quantum physics has led to the new model on which Quantum computing is based: to simulate quantum behaviour so that the state of memory can be in an overlapping of several possible “classical” states. Quantum computing therefore allows to transform computational memory from a finite set of states, physically distinct from each other and conventionally represented by the digits 0 and 1, to an overlapping of these classical states.
Quantum computers are based on this new calculation model. Thanks to them we have passed from binary information, represented by the single “open” and “closed” states of a switch, to quantum information, represented by the state of an atom that can exist in an overlapping state. The unit of measure of Quantum computing is the quantum bit or Qubit, able to encode the quantum state of the atom.
The quantum model exponentially expands the possibilities of representing information.
The importance for the future
The possibility offered by the Quantum computing model becomes determined for the resolution of many complex problems that at present require significant resources, both in economic and technical terms and in terms of time, for their resolution.
Even if we are only at the beginning of this technology and its application (there are still many problems to solve and errors to correct), Quantum computing could lead to a real computing revolution and new discoveries in many fields. This is demonstrated by the fact that many important companies have decided to invest a lot in research for the development of quantum computers, for example Google, IBM, Microsoft and Intel. IBM has created a quantum computing platform to allow experiments and simulations on the quantum processor.
The first applications of this technology will probably be those requiring a smaller number of Qubits. For example, those in medical field for diagnostics and pharmacological research.
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data analysis are certainly not to be missed. The possibility to train neural networks through quantum computers would allow learning times exponentially faster than the current ones, opening to scenarios that we can’t even imagine today if not as science fiction movie stories!
The application of Quantum computing in these disciplines will have effects on scientific research and, consequently, in those sectors whose development depends on it, such as finance.
Why study it
The natural course of existence is to constantly change and evolve. Thus, we must always be informed and prepared as much as possible for change.
Without necessarily having to become experts in the field, it is important for everyone to know the principles of how Quantum computing works if we want to be actively present in the upcoming technological revolution.
Just as “classical” Artificial Intelligence is now part of our everyday life, so Quantum computing will allow it to move to its next level. Being informed, knowing the subject and how it works, evaluating possible risks and dangers and also the future benefits that Quantum computing will bring, allows us to be protagonists of our future.
A hypothetical study path
As with all fascinating topics, we must also take into account their complex appearance. Below is a list of readings that I would like to suggest in order to deal with quantum computing in a linear and didactic way. It starts from a lighter and more stimulating approach to a more in-depth one, both from a theoretical and practical point of view. Let’s start
A good and simple introduction to the subject is the excellent book by Raffaele Mauro: “Quantum computing“.
Then, for more details, Chris Bernhardt‘s book “Quantum Computing for Everyone”
For those who are interested in the study of Quantum computing applied to Artificial Intelligence, in addition to the knowledge of Quantum mechanics, the knowledge of Artificial Intelligence is also necessary. In this case, I recommend the book by a dear friend of mine Denis Rothman, “Artificial Intelligence By Example” (2nd Edition), where there is an entire chapter dedicated to Quantum computing.
Continuing on the path of study, a very evolved but more practical approach is given by Jack D. Hidary’s book “Quantum Computing: An Applied Approach”.
Finally, for the most technology enthusiasts who like to practice I recommend the book “Programming Quantum Computers: Essential Algorithms and Code Samples” by three authors Eric R. Johnston, Nic Harrigan e Mercedes Gimeno-Segovia
This is an educational path among the many that can be taken, however, designed for the best possible performance and taking into account the different educational and professional backgrounds of many readers. Surely the topic has many aspects and each one leads to deepen a certain vertical topic.
A horizontal knowledge, on which Quantum computing itself is based, is Quantum mechanics, a subject that complements the study of Quantum computing.
In addition to the books mentioned above or others that you find interesting for your professional and personal career, I also recommend reading academic material, often the basis of scientific research then applied by companies. Here are some of them:
We then conclude with some articles from the research centres of companies investing in Quantum computing such as Google, IBM, Microsoft and ENI.
This article is a support for those who want to learn about Quantum computing and don’t know how to do it and where to start. Of course it is my vision of a training plan that is progressive and, within limits, interdisciplinary. Everyone will then have to adapt the process according to his level of preparation and knowledge and extend or modify it according to his real needs.
My intention is to help those who are at the beginning and stimulate everyone to a continuous and constant study … I hope I have succeeded 🙂