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Quantum Computers

  1. Mar 23, 2010 #1
    How hard is it to get into the quantum computer/information theory programs at the top universities? Are they easier to get into than theoretical particle physics or pure math? I would guess it would be just as difficult, but I hardly ever meet or read about people that are interested in that field.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 23, 2010 #2
    I can't answer your question but I am standing by for the answer myself. That would be an excellent research subject, especially because I would love to see computers that are smarter than the smartest people in the world. That would be amazing. Despite the idea that they'd want to take over, you can create one to behave in any way one desires. The idea that computers want to take over comes from the fact that people view other sentient things like themselves.
  4. Mar 24, 2010 #3
    Are you a graduate? If so, is it that you are looking to go to graduate school for those subjects?

    Comparing 'pure math' to 'theoretical particle physics' isn't a great idea, pure math consists of all subject areas in pure mathematics - and competition at graduate level is essentially based on the number of places that are available, and the prestige of the supervisors running the program. Theoretical particle physics is a specific subject.

    And, are you talking about masters programmes? PhDs? I only have a limited knowledge on these subjects but consulting my particle theory friend has led me to say that (until we get the rest of your information! very generally): he believes because pure math and theoretical particle physics are more considered to be purely academic programmes they, by design, suffer from less funding than and so have less places, but they are interesting! so still have the applicants to make it competitive. I also know a solid state physicist that has worked on some material appropriate to quantum computing, and apparently his experience is that there seems to be a lag in the applications to the field.That is, I guess people interesting in computing are a lot in the computing sector - rather than looking at it from a physics point of view. It's also worth thinking about the fact that a lot of computing work takes place in industry.

    Now, the above is second hand information and I don't have the numbers to back it up. I shall work on that now once I get the answers to the rest.
  5. Mar 24, 2010 #4

    I'm trying to decide what field I want to study in pursuit of a PhD (not in grad school yet). I have an undergrad degree in physics and math (I graduated last year but decided to take a couple year off from school for personal reasons). I have good grades, graduate courses, and some research in computational physics. However, I come from a smaller unknown (except if you are a football fan) liberal arts college and will be at a disadvantage when applying. I enjoy pure math the most, specifically mathematical physics (relating to QFT and string theory), but I'm not delusional. I know that mathematical physics is over saturated and competition is fierce. So, I'm trying to find some other areas of theoretical physics, math, or science in general that are interesting and exciting but not quite as competitive. That's why I thought of quantum information and quantum computation theory.

    The specific researchers I would like to work with are John Preskill (Caltech), Edward Farhi (MIT), Microsoft Station Q (UCSB) and a few more. Waterloo and Oxford also have great programs in quantum information. I'm just trying to figure out how tough it will be to get accepted in this particular field. I see people struggling to make it into a top 20 university in HEP theory, so I'm wondering if it is the same for all theoretical physics. Although quantum computer theorists can work in industry like at IBM.
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