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Other What courses should I pursue? (for quantum computing)

  1. Dec 3, 2017 #1
    I am a middle-school student and I have just recently finished a course in Honors Physics and have already started one on AP Calculus. I have been reading quite a few books on quantum physics. I just recently started one on quantum computing and it is very interesting. Interesting enough I might want to pursue quantum physics and quantum computing as a career.

    I wish to learn a coding platform of some sort which could help me in quantum computing or data sciences. I have looked around and found a few which could come in handy. I saw Matlab, Mathematica, Python, C++ and a few more. Which language should I first start learning.

    I was thinking about Python first, but what advice does anybody have?
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 3, 2017
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  3. Dec 4, 2017 #2


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    I don't think it matters much which programming language you start with, but Python is a good choice.
  4. Dec 4, 2017 #3
    Thanks, I was probably going to start with that anyways.
  5. Dec 4, 2017 #4
    Quantum computing is ultra niche and speculative, I wouldn't think of it necessarily as an intended career track; instead, I'd pursue either computer science/physics or electrical engineering/physics basics and make up your mind later.
  6. Dec 5, 2017 #5


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    If you take quantum computing more broadly, including quantum information processing and quantum cryptography, then I disagree.
  7. Dec 5, 2017 #6
    I think this is a relative statement. I work in device physics (electrical engineering). There are perhaps two dozen or more departments in the US where if you complete a masters or a PhD, you have a good chance of acquiring an industrial job in your subfield or an academic job. It seems far easier to get an academic job in this field too.

    Relatively speaking, quantum information in the US has maybe what, 5 strong departments? Caltech, Maryland, MIT, UCSB are the only ones I can think of (obviously it's not my field). Even if you get into one of these, it's not clear that you'll have a good shot at an academic position, and there aren't any traditional industrial positions.
  8. Dec 6, 2017 #7
    This is quite what I am afraid of. I am absolutely fascinated with quantum physics and would love to work on its practical usages. Contrary to the beliefs of whomsoever I tell that I am interested in quantum physics, I actually understand it.

    I understand that quantum physics is a shaky career path, especially if I am pursuing it academically. This is why I decided to try and venture into the realm of data sciences and quantum computing possibly. I think that it is more realistic for me to try and pursue an industrial or technical career with a technology company instead of an academic institution (even though that is what I want to do).
  9. Dec 6, 2017 #8


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    There are many more groups than that; especially if you consider all different types of quantum computers/simulators (cold ions. ion traps, semiconductor, superconductor, hybrid, molecular etc) and include both hardware and software. There are also a few large companies active in this area (IBM, Google, Northrop Grumman and more recently Intel) as well as a bunch of startups (e.g. Rigetti computing). Hence, the list of potential employers is growing.
    That said, I agree that it is certainly not a straightforward career path.
    Another thing to consider is that things might have changed a LOT by the time you get to a point where you need to look for work (which in this field would almost certainly be after finishing a PhD); things are moving so fast at the moment that it is very difficult to say anything about where we will be in 5 years; and where we will be in 10 years (which is presumably what we are talking about here) is just guesswork.
  10. Dec 6, 2017 #9


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    This is very confusing. You initially indicated that you wanted to do "quantum computing". Now, it appears that you are going into it simply because you actually are ".. interested in quantum physics..." and want to go into the practical aspect of it. I find it puzzling that you think that quantum computing is the ONLY practical outcome of quantum physics. What about that computer and that smart phone that you've been using?

    Condensed matter physics is the LARGEST section in terms of number of practicing physicist, at least here in the US based on memberships in the APS. It is also .... wait for it .... and application of quantum physics! In fact, phenomena such as superconductivity has been claimed to be the clearest manifestation of quantum phenomenon.

    So if you think that quantum computing is the ONLY viable application of quantum physics, you don't really know quantum physics.

  11. Dec 6, 2017 #10
    I think this is why I needed some advice. I thought of quantum computing since it seems to be getting mainstream attention and could have future possibilities. I am aware of other applications of quantum physics but I don't quantum computing most interesting in it's applications.
  12. Dec 6, 2017 #11
    I second ZZ, I work in device physics and quantum is everywhere. Even transport calculations for devices often include at least quantum mechanical corrections even if they are not fully quantum mechanical, and this is neglecting the fact that the fundamental concepts (band diagrams, band structure, carriers of two types, effective masses etc) are all deduced from quantum mechanics.

    As I said previously, QC is a very niche, exotic, bleeding edge application. There are other more mature and less exotic applications.

    As for what f95toli has to say, I agree that it is completely unpredictable where QC will be in 5, much less 10 years. It is speculative technology, not in principle, but in practice. Demonstrations of "quantum supremacy" still haven't occurred. A breakthrough could occur in 10 years.

    Or it could go the way of fusion, steadily falling out of favor as over hyped promises are not delivered, and the hype driven science/tech market moves on to something new.

    Probably that new thing will be fusion powered deep quantum neural nets using graphene quantum dots and big data to accelerate the Internet of things to cure cancer, provide infinitely sustainable renewable energy, and eliminate erectile dysfunction, all in one pass.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
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