PHYS771 Quantum Computing Since Democritus

University of Waterloo, Fall 2006
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:00-2:30pm
BFG Building, 2nd floor seminar room (BFG2125)

Instructor: Scott Aaronson
3141 Davis Centre
Email: scott at scottaaronson dot com
Office hours: After class or by appointment

Description: This course tries to connect quantum computing to the wider intellectual world. We'll start out with various scientific, mathematical, or philosophical problems that predate quantum computing: for example, the measurement problem, P versus NP, the existence of secure cryptography, the Humean problem of induction, or the possibility of closed timelike curves. We'll then examine in what ways, if any, quantum computing affects how we should think about the problem. To keep things grounded, each session will end with a concrete puzzle that students will be expected to have thought about (if not solved) by the next session. The class format will strongly encourage participation, discussion, and debate.

Prerequisites: Mathematical maturity and some previous exposure to quantum computing.

Responsibilities: The main one is to scribe one or two sessions; we might experiment with using audio recordings to help with this. Besides that, students are expected to

  1. show up,
  2. actively participate in discussion,
  3. work on the puzzles,
  4. do the readings (which will generally be light), and
  5. turn in one or two problem sets (having either solved the problems or else explained why they couldn't solve them).

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Lecture Notes

Suggested Readings