The New Path of Education
Everyone knows how important education is. Traditionally it was the university that gave the best, most trusted education. The combination of experienced professors and the support network in these places of higher learning offered (and still do in most cases) the best way to gain meaningful, well-paid employment.
Here’s a fact:
According to an OECD report, the ‘total expenditure on educational institutions per full-time equivalent student’ clocks in at $30,003 in the US. This cost is usually incurred in the form of grants and student loans, and takes into account the contributions by individual families as well as the government.
That’s a helluva lot of money considering the US is being outperformed by many other countries in higher education, again based on OECD statistics.
The rise of the Internet, and especially YouTube, however, has changed all that — for the last decade or so many free and cheap online educational alternatives have appeared offering would-be students the chance to learn something for a fraction of the cost.
This is especially the case for disciplines like computer programming, data science and other tech-related subjects.
A case in point is with quantum computing (QC), a hard tech discipline which is only a few decades old. When it comes to actual quantum technology degrees and higher degrees, although they exist, they are not so common as you’d think.
And this is of no surprise:
Quantum information science and all the subsidiary disciplines have yet to reach the mainstream of scientific thought.
Another caveat is that to get on these university courses, you need to have the high school grades, the money (if you’re in the US, for example) or a commitment to study for three, four or however many years the said course takes to graduate.
For those with a passion, though maybe not the financial resources nor discipline, that’s a huge obstacle.
But there is a solution: online courses. The beauty of these is their low cost, low risk and high flexibility.
Don’t like the course?
Resign and try another one without the dreaded realization of thousands upon thousands of dollars down the drain.
And maybe debt.
I will present now, via a list, the most popular ways to learn about quantum computing on the Internet. Some of these courses are paid. Others are free or offer partially free content.
Whatever your budget constraints, there is a course for the next future Jonathon Monroe. Or that Richard Feynman wannabe.
All the courses mentioned in this list hope to teach you what quantum computing is, how it’s developing and what it hopes to solve in the future.
Above all, the courses included have a qualitative rather than a quantitative flavour. The list is neither exhaustive nor fallible (and please comment on our relatively arbitrary rating system!). I chose eight because why not: it represents infinity, perfection and the number is just, well, symmetric. Prices are in whichever currency stated on the respective websites.
Finally, Do also note that we have a growing resource base on our website so do check out our Quantum Computing 101 articles.
1. FUTURE LEARN
Let’s kick the list off then with ‘Understanding Quantum Computers at Future Learn’, a website that provides online course in IT & Computer Science. The course introduces a lot of the basic vocabulary in quantum computing without the daunting task of using difficult mathematical terms.
Future Learn promises to:
discuss the motivation for building quantum computers, cover the important principles in quantum computing, and take a look at some of the important quantum computing algorithms…
while finishing with a brief look at quantum computing hardware and the budding quantum information technology industry…
Key concepts will be explained graphically, with minimal mathematics but some deep thinking required.
The course, then, seems to be targeted to the novice. Lasting four weeks and demanding five hours per week of study, you won’t end up with a physicist’s brain at the end of it nor a job at Rigetti but will have some of the key concepts in the discipline under your belt.
The courses are included in the £189 subscription fee for unlimited access to hundreds of online courses, most of them as short at ‘Understanding Quantum Computers’.
If your sole aim is only to take this course, it’s rather pricey for what you get. However, if value for money is your thing, the unlimited access to other courses could just be what the doctor ordered.
TQD Rating: 7/10
2. MIT XPRO
Next on the list is the granddaddy of them all, MIT, and its ‘Quantum Computing Fundamentals XPro’ course. The two-course online program promises the client that QC will change business in the future and your knowledge of it.
‘The Quantum computing revolution is upon us.’
— MIT Quantum Computing Fundamentals XPro course
The first thing to realize is the money MIT can afford to put into the course. And the reputation that precedes it.
MIT drags you in by throwing a Garnter stat at you from the off — by 2023, 20% of organizations will be budgeting for quantum computing projects.
MIT promises after the course has finished you will be able to tell the difference between a classical computer and quantum computation and the respective algorithms. Additionally, it goes into some of the engineering problems developers in the industry come up against day to day while becoming proficient in those applications. The maths of quantum states and operations are covered, too, so better get your linear algebra up to scratch and your vectors and matrix multiplication spick and span before you sign up.
As you can see, Johnny Von Neumann you don’t have to be, but a high school maths graduate you do, at the very least.
Targeted at leaders in government and business, as well as professionals in the technology sector unfamiliar with QC, the course guarantees a solid foundation of the technical and business aspects of the technology.
The four-week course costs $2,149, so it could scare away those used to getting their courses for nada on YouTube. But if you’re serious about a career in QC, there is no doubt the course can give you the necessary tools to make the leap to the next level from your current career.
However expensive it seems on the outset, MIT’s reputation is one of the best in the world in the QC space. With faculty members Peter Shor, Isaac Chuang and Aram Harrow leading the charge teaching the content, there’s no doubt it will be cash well spent, either now or in the near future.
Let us leave the last word, nevertheless, to a happy customer, Mr Charles Middleton, Principal Investigator at Harris Corporation:
‘Great starting point for gaining deeper knowledge in more focused areas of quantum information science’
TQD Rating: 9/10
3. GEEKS FOR GEEKS
This one is more of a website/forum, but to the hell with it.
Geeks for Geeks is an Indian science and education portal for, well, you guessed it, geeks, and provides numerous courses that anyone with a love of science and technology would love.
The course, ‘Introduction to Quantum Computing’ seems okay. Prices are in Indian rupees. The platform offers many forum discussions and exercises that give you chances to practise your QC aptitude.
All in all, only recommended for those with little money and a passing interest in QC. However, I’m sure as quantum information science gets more popular, the demand for these courses will grow.
TQD Rating: 6/10
4. UDEMY QUANTUM COMPUTING — AN OVERVIEW
On May 11th of next year, Turkish entrepreneur Eren Bali’s Udemy will be ten years old.
Hail the Young Turk.
It’s a bit of a trailblazer in the online educator sphere. A portmanteau of the word ‘you’ plus ‘academy’, since those salad days it has taught 30 million students and had 50,000 instructors on its books teaching courses in over sixty languages.
So it’s got the reputation for delivering on its promises. This is the same with its course ‘Quantum Computing — An Overview’.
On the course, you will learn about all the basic integrals to understanding quantum computing, like superposition, entanglement, superdense coding and quantum gates. With all bases covered, after the course, you will be well underway to moving on to the next level.
The course content was created by Lakshmy Subramonia Iyer, by her profile a technologist and mathematics instructor.
Her profile goes on to say:
‘I’m an engineering graduate with more than 10 years of work experience in various organizations. Currently, I work as an Online Mathematics Tutor for an organization based out of USA. I’m a technologist by passion and possess knowledge in a diverse range of topics which includes Cloud, Blockchain, Big Data, Chatbots and more.’
Delving deeper on her LinkedIn profile, her education states that she went to the University of Kerala where she gained a Bachelor of Technology, Electronics and Communication Engineering. Professionally, she has experience as a subject matter expert at Edserv Softsystems Ltd.
All in all, I don’t know how much this warrants the person to be an expert on QC, but will give her the benefit of the doubt, for now.
The course costs £19.99, consists of seven lectures, and is for anyone ‘wishing to get a detailed overview of Quantum Computing.’ The learner also receives a 90-minute on-demand video, full lifetime access and a certificate on completion.
Students’ average rating for the course comes in at just above average, based on the five-star rating.
Here are a few of the comments from learners:
‘It was very good introductory course. I would have liked to hear bit more about how physically a qantum gate is implemented rather then deep dive into matrix transformation but overall good balance and I enjoyed it. Thanks.’
— Ozan Perincek, Four Stars
‘Weak slides and explanations, text transcript is full of errors. I did pick up a few new insights though.’
— Tom Wilkinson, Three Stars
TQD Rating: 3/10
5. THE QUANTUM QUEST
Organized by the University of Amsterdam and the Dutch startup QuSoft, ‘The Quantum Quest’ is a web class for high school students. Basically a simple, intuitive website, ‘The Quantum Quest’ is divided into three sections:
Watch all videos
And Read Lecture Notes
Navigating the website is easy
Start Quirky brings you to The Quirky Quantum Simulator, a quantum simulator by Craig Gidney which runs right in your web browser. There are four quests in total:
Quest 1: Conquer the qubit
Quest 2: Wizard of entanglement
Quest 3: Quantum composer
Quest 4: Algorithm virtuoso
As you can see, all the basics are covered in this section.
The videos’ section is hosted on Vimeo, and include five QuSoft Web classes. Each one is a little over five minutes, so I don’t exactly know what you can learn from these in that time.
The final section, Read lecture notes, is meant to be gorged after you have watched the first two sections. ‘The Quantum Quest’ lecture notes run at 97 pages, so quite substantial.
Throughout the course, students use an online forum called Canvas to read the latest lecture notes, discuss with other learners about the tasks and hand in assignments.
After you have finished watching the videos and reading the notes, ‘The Quantum Quest’ asks the question:
Are you interested in participating in the next round of the Quantum Quest (Fall 2020)?
If you are, all you have to do is sign up with your email address.
The course is free, so always a good thing. And though the videos are short, the lecture notes are relatively comprehensive for someone who wants to go further in QC. With expert visual presentations from QuSoft’s Dr Stacey Jeffery, Professor Ronald De Wolf, Professor Harry Buhrman, and Professor Kareljan Schoutens, you’re in good hands to start your journey in the land of QC.
TQD Rating: 8/10
6. THE QUANTUM INTERNET AND QUANTUM COMPUTERS: HOW WILL THEY CHANGE THE WORLD?
To some all this talk of quantum entanglement and superposition may be double dutch to many, so keeping the topic in the home of Vincent Van Gogh we have the course ‘Quantum Internet and Quantum Computers: How Will They Change the World?’ produced in partnership with MIT and Harvard-founded platform for education and learning EDX along with Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), the course promises to teach you:
the principles and promises behind these developments and how they will impact our future.
Another free course, lasting six weeks with two to three hours needed per week, for £38 you can also get a Verified Certificate on completing the course.
The course promises you will learn:
The basics of quantum computing and the quantum internet
The key application areas in which quantum technologies will change the world
The potential advantages of quantum technologies but also the challenges in realizing them
The basic quantum phenomena that make quantum technologies possible.
Taught by university instructors Stephanie Wehner, Lieven Vandersypen and Menno Veldhorst, who are all professors at the Delft University of Technology and working at Qutech, I don’t know how much it actually differs from ‘The Quantum Quest’ course in at number 5.
TQD Rating: 8/10
7. INTRODUCTION TO QUANTUM COMPUTING BY ST PETERSBURG UNIVERSITY
The free course ‘Introduction to Quantum Computing’, backed by St Petersburg University, is hosted on the Coursera platform. Made up of a syllabus that lasts five weeks, the content is as follows:
Week 1, Intro, taking two hours to complete
Week 2, Mathematical Model of Quantum Computing, needing a total of four hours to finish
Week 3, Quantum Computer and Quantum Algorithms, demanding three hours of study time
Week 4, Shor’s Algorithm, which takes four hours to finish
And finally, Week 5, taking five hours of study time, entitled Grover’s Algorithm, A Quantum Computer Application Boundaries
All in all that’s 17 hours over five weeks; 17 into five, equals 3.4 hours weekly.
Not much really, considering this is some of the toughest shit on the planet to learn.
As per the course information, it has been designed for:
those computer scientists, engineers and programmers who believe, that there’s something else than just HLL programming, that will move our computing power further into infinity. Since the course is introductory, the only prerequisites are complex numbers and linear algebra. These two are required and they have to be enough.
The course is led by Sergei Sysoev, a teacher at the Center for Optical and Laser Materials Research at St Petersburg University, so the course tutor seems to know what he’s talking about.
Of the forty reviews of the course at the time of writing, the average grade — based on five stars — is 4.4, so not bad.
Here are three, across the board:
‘The course is very informative. But the mathematics is quite hard to follow even for a Physics undergraduate like me. The prerequisite of linear algebra actually means the knowledge of Hubert space and other advanced concepts which I think is quite complex for most non-science students. Also, the quiz is quite challenging without the necessary guidance. It sometimes takes me multiple trials to see what is the correct answer. I think it would be much nicer if there are additional resources that we can read on for the harder questions in the quiz.’
— Gordon L W C, 1 star
‘More time should have been spent on explaining the blocks and the algorithms.’
— Marco G, 3 stars
‘I like this course. It is a bit steep (Mathematical wise) but it presents the topic and it’s most important applications well. Also the reference to a real DIY quantum computer was interesting to see as well. I can recommend this course to everyone who like to prepare for this exciting quantum computing future!’
— Toon Leijtens, 5 stars
As this is a free course, run by an academic with a background in the discipline, it is a highly recommended course.
TQD Rating: 9/10
8. MICROSOFT’S QUANTUM COMPUTING FOR COMPUTER SCIENTISTS
Microsoft’s ‘Quantum Computing for Computer Scientists’ is cheating a bit, as it’s not a course per se but rather a 79-page PDF.
For those of you who like to get your information via the written word, then this is the ‘course’ for you.
With Microsoft’s offering, one thing guaranteed is you’re going to learn from some of the best in the industry.
The booklet goes through all the basic terms essential to understanding what goes on in the quantum world, starting with the question Why learn quantum computing? before moving on to Learning objectives.
All the main areas are covered with clear, concise graphics on tensor product of vectors, qubits and superposition, CNOT gates, the Hadamard gate, the unit circle state machine before moving on to the Deutsch Oracle.
Another good point is that sections end with clear recaps.
To those unfamiliar with linear algebra and other basic foundations of mathematics required to delve deeper into the world of QC, it can be demanding, but well worth it.
At the end of the PDF, it offers further learning goals, further reading and appendices on single-bit operations on multi-bit states and quantum teleportation maths.
Something of an accompaniment reading piece to more substantial courses out there that offer various ways of learning other than by reading, it is still worth the time investing in it.
TQD Rating: 6/10
So, there it is — it’s not all the courses out there, but it’s a good representation of some of the choices anyone with an interest in QC wanting to take it to the next level can look into.
Before I sign off, though, here’s a few more worth a visit checking out in The Quantum Daily’s Honourable Mention List:
Udemy’s QC101: ‘Quantum Computing & Quantum Physics for Beginners’
‘Quantum Machine Learning for Data Scientists’ from Quantee Limited
‘Quantum Machine Learning’ from Research Gate
‘Quantum Computing for the Determined’ on YouTube.
Again, there a more and more popping up all the time, especially at many of the most preeminent universities in partnership with startups.
And well, that’s about it. I think the list is a good overview of what’s out there and what choices the would-be quantum information systems engineer or physicist can expect.
I wish you happy learning, and leave the last word to one of the great men of our time or any other:
‘ANYONE WHO STOPS LEARNING IS OLD, WHETHER AT TWENTY OR EIGHTY.’
— HENRY FORD