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Homework Help: Need a chat about physics

  1. Aug 26, 2012 #1
    Physics behind Quantum Computing

    Hello :) I am interested in the quantum computing, but surprise surprise, I'm interested in the physics behind it. I am 17 and I was wondering of any books or resources that I can read to get an introduction on the physics behind quantum computing as I plan to write a ~3000 word assignment on it. I am a UK college student studying A level physics hoping to apply to University next year. Thanks!

    PS. Sorry for the previous name.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 26, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    Re: [URGENT] Need a chat about physics

    There are two parts of this;
    1. you need enough information around the subject of Quantum Computing to complete an A-level assignment.
    2. you need additional material to give you a guide for prep for University - what to study to be grounded in quantum computing.

    For each of these you have an enormous resource online to soak up - there is no royal road to knowledge: you just have to plow through it. We can recommend resources, and we will, but will have to guess at your learning style.

    For the first one especially - the process is more important than the results. The object is to get you into the habit of sifting through far too much information for just the right stuff you need. However - it can be helpful to have someone point you in a useful direction. Therefore - my suggestions here are starting points from which you can discover the answers to your own questions.

    Here's a handy overview:

    ... and from IBM:

    ... after reading these you should be able to narrow your search.

    ... online college courses can be an excellent source.
    For the physics aspect you want to concentrate your reading on the difference between the way data is stored in an old-style core memory, a modern RAM chip, and how it may be stored in a quantum computer. i.e. where does the "quantum" part come in? Normal semiconductors rely on quantum mechanics too.
  4. Aug 27, 2012 #3
    Re: [URGENT] Need a chat about physics

    Hi Simon, first can I say thank you for your post.

    I'm reading through both of those articles as we speak, I've already done a slight bit of research prior to this but most places I look seem to focus on the computing aspect such as bytes. So I plan on doing research on quantum mechanics itself, and use about 1500 words to talk about quantum mechanics, about 500 words to introduce/conclude/write about the history etc, and 1000 words on how the quantum aspect effects the computers and how they work.

    This way, I think it turns it into a more general physics topic and allows me to complete it easier, I just hope that there is enough physics in this topic and that I don't spend two weeks researching just to find there isn't enough physics to write about.

    What do you think?

    PS. I have almost NO computing knowledge and have never done anything to do with computers or the way they work, do you think this will be a big enough setback?
  5. Aug 28, 2012 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    Re: [URGENT] Need a chat about physics

    That would be an excellent approach to the project :)
    You do risk your topic becoming very big - as you try to limit the wordcount to fit QM in a mere 1500 words (for eg) you'll start to see why the articles on your level tend to focus on the computer parts.

    Probably what you want to do is start with Turing and Von Neuman (primarily mathematical) definition of a computer and then look for the QM structures, in the abstract, that would satisfy those operations. This will allow you to skip a huge chunk of practical computing theory to focus on fundamentals and still give you a bit of space to summarize the attempted real-world implementation.

    I suspect that would secure an A+ - but it is a LOT of work.
    Just reading a lot and writing what you think usually works ;)

    BTW: lack of computing experience will probably be an advantage.
  6. Aug 29, 2012 #5
    Re: [URGENT] Need a chat about physics

    Hi, once again thanks, now I feel I have a pretty good idea of what I am doing thanks to you so I can just get started with the research and see where that takes me :) Like you said, sometimes it's better to just do :) I'll update this thread with how I do and hopefully the end product if you want :)
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