Essential Mathematics for Quantum Computing, by Leonard Woody III, a review.

One of fundamental challenges for those new to the Quantum Computing field is getting a grip on the maths that is so fundamental to the understanding of what is actually happening in the weird world of Quantum. Getting a firm grasp of those fundamentals is not necessarily that easy and not all the machinery is taught unless you take a graduate programme in Quantum Physics. The new book from Leonard Woody who is a program manager with Microsoft Quantum Azure has the aim to be an all in one-stop-shop to understanding the mathematics that drive the next Quantum industrial revolution, without much requisite maths. But there is another duality to the book, for those who have perhaps forgotten some of the fundamentals and want to get into the quantum field.

Yep another a Quantum book, you might say, and there are now a few books and resources that students or disciples of quantum can use to learn how to program a quantum computer. Most will describe some of the fundamentals but mainly gloss over those details. Woody has striven to be different and ensure that this book is self-contained and comprises almost everything you need to learn the mathematics behind those funny weird maths symbols you might see banded around. Woody will take the reader on a journey from the most elementary of mathematics – starting right at the beginning and then move as the needs to build up more quantum understanding increasing, progress into more complex topics. For example Woody builds up the readers knowledge of concepts such as vectors.

Woody uses the Wolfram Alpha tool to help readers more interactively understand some examples, which is itself a great learning tool and a good check that the reader has fully understood the concepts and we applaud that.

What the book isn’t

This is not a programming book. That is patently clear and that is the point. Quantum Computing is largely independent of the implementation of the programming language or even the hardware which can be abstracted away. Therefore this book is a departure from others such as Dancing with Qubits or Jack Hidary’s book which can be used almost as a get to the quantum programming rapidly. These approaches are great if you have a background in the mathematics and fundamentals. What Woody has expressly done is make it so easy for you to get the background mathematics with nowhere to hide and no skip-overs.

A Quantum book like no other

With this book, you could literally use it to fully understand those key quantum operations such as kets, matrices, measurement, tensor products. I didn’t see density operations though, perhaps in another further book. I guess the challenge is to cover enough material without overloading the user. That said, there is more than enough to get the reader from grade school maths into understanding quantum computing and I mean getting at the depth and you wont need to look things up in a half a different books, you can simply use Essential Mathematics for Quantum Computing to give you the operational knowledge. So if you want an easy entree into the world of Quantum, you will feel inspired with with Woody.

I wish books like this existed when I was at school, because this is a “theme” book, which will no doubt encourage readers and students to learn the maths because they want to get into the quantum space. What better motivation to learn the maths. Often the opposite of the way maths is taught in school, ie. without application or a real purpose, which I’ve often thought turns students off. That is what is refreshing about this title.