Quantum Book Review: Dancing with Qubits

First off, I must admit I do not like the name. It sounds a little naff, rather contrived and a bit “out there”. Anyhow I ploughed on regardless and bought the relatively inexpensive book on Amazon. The book is over 400 pages and retails for less than 50$ which is relatively cheap compared to many texts in the quantum space.

The book by Robert Sutor (from IBM) was going to typically use qiskit and mention that a lot. I can take that for granted wanting to promote the open source framework that IBM supports – but found that generally this is a book about fundamentals and not about anyone framework over the others.

I would say that the book is largely an enjoyable read and would especially suit new entrants into the Quantum space. That said it does work strangely on multiple levels. I found myself quite enjoying the presentation of quite familiar concepts with Bob’s “cut to the good stuff” style of writing. Sure if you want more detail on some of the concepts a more detailed book such as Isaac Chuang and Michael Nielsen or Eleanor G. Rieffel is what you need, but I consider this book a bit of the “glue” that holds the more academic texts together in such a way that it helps readers understand some of the concepts rather than just to work through the maths.

Dancing with Qubits. An easy style of writing from Bob Sutor.

The light and airy style covers a lot of concepts from the basic maths of linear algebra and modular arithmetic (useful in Shor’s algorithm) to oracles, and basic gate operations. I was not expecting the book to be rigorous – the point is to provide an inside track into real understanding without having to wade through pages and pages of proofs and for that Bob Sutor must be applauded. The book works as a read it end-to-end style of book or a book that can be dipped into at will to understand a concept. It even works a a nice reference as the appendices are presented in a clear and concise manner. There is a lot covered here so don’t get surprised – its almost 500 pages all-in, and even subjects like Quantum Volume are considered which you won’t find in older textbooks – since this book was published in late 2019.

Most important is the book is enjoyable – its not too packed and tries to cover the essentials of modern gate based Quantum Computing and for that reason falls into a very needed catchment in the Quantum Book space.

Summary of Dancing with Qubits

  • PRO: Aimed at a wide audience – focus on understanding.
  • PRO: Not quite the traditional textbook.
  • PRO: Value for money.
  • PRO: Very accessible.
  • CON: Terrible Title

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