Physics 489 - Spring 2018

An Introduction to Quantum Computing

Course Description

This is a ten-week, one-credit course that will provide an introduction to the theoretical and experimental aspects of quantum computing. There won't be time in ten lectures to go into great detail, rather the intent will be to get you to the point where you will be able to explore further on your own. In order to facilitate this, we will provide suggested reading material and we will also encourage discussions both during and outside of class.

We will first review the basic principles of quantum mechanics and then discuss the general underlying concepts of quantum computation. We will then look at various technologies that are being investigated as ways to implement quantum computing. We'll first overview the various technologies and then focus on two of the most promising: superconducting and topological qubits. If there is time and interest, we will conclude the course with a brief look at some of the exciting developments involving quantum information in the field of quantum gravity and in the field of tensor networks of many-body systems of entangled particles.

Course Outline


There will be a set of ten lectures given by Prof. Mark Hillery and Prof. Janos Bergou from the Physics Department of Hunter College / CUNY and by Prof. Michael Gershenson and Prof. Steve Schnetzer from the Rutgers Physics & Astronomy Department. The lectures will be on Thursday evenings from 6:40 pm to 8:00 pm in ARC Room 105. The first lecture will be on January 18. We will post lecture notes here and on the Sakai web site after each lecture. These notes will consist of summaries of the main points of the lecture. They aren't meant to be self contained and you'll probably find them difficult to understand if you don't attend the lecture to see them in context.

Reading Material

Although there isn't an assigned textbook, the lectures by Prof. Hillery will cover material in the book Introduction to the Theory of Quantum Information Processing by Bergou and Hillery. Relevant sections of this book will be posted on this website but you are encouraged to purchase the book if you want to see the background and more details related to the lectures.

For exploring beyond the introduction to quantum computing provided in this course, a good basic reference is the set of lecture notes by John Preskill of Caltech. Prof. Preskill is one the leaders in the field of quantum computing. His lecture notes are clear and thorough.

You might also want to refer to the book Quantum Computation and Quantum Information by Nielsen and Chuang. It is the canonical textbook in the field, although it is becoming a bit dated.

The lectures on the implementation of superconducting qubits will require some knowledge of condensed matter physics. Pre-requisite reading for Lecture 7 on superconductivity is lectures 18-20 of the online lecture course by S. Frolov of the University of Pittsburg. and pre-requisite reading for Lecture 9 on qubits is the nature article by John Clarke of Berkeley and Frank Wilhelm of the University of Waterloo.

There is a set of video lectures by David Deutsch of OxfordUniversity that you might find informative and amusing. Deutsch is a pioneer of quantum computing and was the first to formulate a description of a quantum Turing machine.

Notes on the first introductory lectures will be posted before the start of the course.


There will be four take home exercises during the ten-week period to accompany the material discussed in class.


The course will be graded Pass / No Credit. In order to receive credit for the course you will be expected to attend a minimum of seven of the lectures and submit three out of four take home assignments.

This page is maintained by Prof. Steve Schnetzer.