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Research in Quantum Computing

  1. May 15, 2016 #1

    I am an undergraduate student from India. Pursuing double major in Physics and Mechanical Engineering.

    I have completed 4 semesters(2 years) of my college. I had taken a class titled "Quantum information and computing" and it interested me a lot. I really love math and computations involved.
    I am getting interested in theory and algorithms aspect of quantum computing.

    My question is, how hard will it be to pursue quantum computing as my field for a grad school (maybe for a PhD), given that I will be doing irrelevant Mechanical Engineering courses.
    I cannot take any math or CS classes simply because I wont be having slots which will make me complete my degrees on time (I am planning to complete my classes in 4years and 1 year of thesis).

    I understand that I need to relevant math/CS courses, but I will be practically restricted.
    However, I can put efforts and study relevant non-physics things on my own.

    Another question I want to ask is, how do I proceed with these conditions?
    I cannot change my second major to CS, but I can drop Mechanical Engineering and pursue 5 classes as my open elective.
    Also, any suggestions on what text/ lectures to follow in order to understand the stuff better.
    Right now, I am following Nielsen and Chuang, and doing well with it.

    Thank you in advance!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2016 #2
    One professor told me the best path with grad school is go directly to the journals and keep researching until you find a someone or a team who's work is what you want to do, approach them directly, and then let the rest work itself out. With a path as new and undefined as Quantum Computing, it may be the way to go.
  4. May 16, 2016 #3
    From what I know, it would also be a good idea to search for research papers in the theoretical computer science and cryptography as both fields involve the quantum computation.
  5. May 18, 2016 #4


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    The problem here is that whereas experimental QC is a new(ish) field the math/algorithms field has been around for quite a while; at least since the mid-80s (Shor's algorithm was published in 1994). Hence, it is a small but quite well researched field. This means that people already working in the field would know what kind of background is needed: typically a background in physics or math (or math-heavy CS),
    Hence, having an ME background will be definite disadvantage and self-study on its own won't help: you need to pass exams in order to show that you actually know the material.
    I am not sure there is a good solution to this. At the end of the day you need to study the topics relevant to what you actually want to do later on; which in the real world is sometimes easier said than done.

    Also, did I mention that this is a small field? I would never recommend anyone who is at the undergraduate level to make life-changing choices based on some idea that they want is career in a field where the total number of permanent positions in the whole world is probably lower than 100 (even if you go to a large QC conference you will only find a small number of people who actually works on algorithms).
    If you are interested in physics then study physics (maybe with a "high-level specialization such as condensed matter,. astrophysics or whatever) and keep an open mind for when it comes to what precise field you want to work in because that is always going to be largely out of your control.
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
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