Quantum Computing Primers, for the interested, curious and even the confused

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Want to learn more about Quantum Computing but don’t know where to start?

If you want to learn more about Quantum Computing but feel daunted by the apparently huge amount of science, math, computer science and even physics to learn, we decided we would pick the best of the resources we could find online and review them in terms of suitability for you to learn. 

Online Quantum Computing Courses

Brilliant Quantum Computing Courses

Who said learning Quantum Computing has to be difficult. Figure out how Quantum computers are changing the technology landscape with the quantum computing course from Brilliant (QZ gets commission for purchases).

Direct and to the point. Brilliant (QZ gets commission for purchases) are, well brilliant at helping individuals learn in a way that can maximize their potential. If you have not already got an account and subscription, please do consider signing up as there are more reasons to now with courses in quantum computing that introduce the fundamentals of gate based quantum computers. Even if you have some understanding of Quantum principles this course is well worth pursuing to brush up on your Quantum skills.

This course is a collaboration with Microsoft and Google (Alphabet) X, so you are in safe hands in terms of the pedigree of the instructors and the information. There is a lot more content planned specifically to Algorithms and Quantum Circuits, so this could be a very direct way into the field, providing you everything you need to program your first Quantum Computer. Currently there are over 400 concepts taught in this QC programme.

Sign up (QZ gets commission for purchases) to learn how to program your first Quantum Computer!

Khan Academy

The famous Khan Academy has a small section on basic physics. But the content is all free and suitable for people who want to get a base understanding of Quantum Physics.

Basic physics is the name of the game here. It won’t cover the more difficult topics such as Quantum Information or get as far as Quantum Computing but will cover some of the basic ideas in Quantum Physics. Consider this a primer in some aspects of Quantum Physics, an easy introduction to the basic physics which underlie the unit of Quantum Computing, the Qubit.

Learn quantum physics with Khan Academy.

Summary: Some excellent physics basics for those without a physics background. Doesn’t cover the sexier topics of Quantum Computing though.

Quantum Information Courses online

A good place to start is a course from MIT on EdX which aims to teach you about quantum bits (qubits), quantum logic gates, quantum algorithms, and quantum communications, and know some linear algebra.

Check out part I of the quantum information course here. There are also follow up with three parts if you want more!

Quantum Machine Learning

Peter Wittek. Professor at the University of Toronto in Canada gives an online course on Quantum Machine Learning

Peter Wittek’s Excellent course on Quantum Machine Learning is accessible through the EdX MOOC platform. This is really for advanced learners who have a good grasp of maths and less required is the physics. It’s a great course that introduces you to the world of Quantum Computing and Quantum Learning, but also to Machine Learning. Peter also has one of the first books published on Quantum Machine Learning (check out his book here if you want to learn more).

The aims of the course are to highlight the benefits of QC (Quantum Computing) over classical computers, by examining some of the algorithmic challenges. The course also uses Python to illustrate some of the QML principles. guest lecturers include Maria Schuld, Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Seth Lloyd and Roger Melko.

You can view more about the course and enroll on the course here. Remember that there is no need to pay, Auditing the course can be done for FREE although you can earn a certificate for under $50.

(Classical) Machine Learning and Deep Learning

Learn about some of the concepts in deep learning. Especially linear algebra which will help with understand Quantum Computing.

Vast computing resources are being directed at ML or Machine Learning. A subset of Artificial Intelligence, ML (Machine Learning) is one of the most resource-intensive areas of research, so it should come as no surprise that people are looking at using any Quantum advantage possible. 

But if you really want to understand some of the motivations behind Quantum Machine Learning, then you could consider looking at a course on Classical Machine Learning and Deep Learning. One of the best courses in Machine Learning is that from  Andrew Ng who was one of the co-founders of the popular learning platform Coursera and founded one of the most popular Machine Learning courses that have seen millions of students learn from his experience. You will learn concepts such as Neural Networks, and some of the fundamentals of data science.

You can join the Deep learning course delivered on the Coursera platform and taught by Andrew Ng at https://www.deeplearning.ai/

Programming Courses in Python

If you want to program a quantum computer, then you should start with programming a classical computer, like the one you are using right now (unless you have a time machine and are emulating a 2019 MacBook on a Quantum Computer, Haha!). A great way to start is with the Python programming language, for a number of reasons. One reason is that Python is quite easy to learn compared to say C++ and that many Quantum Frameworks that interact or simulate Quantum Computers use Python to manipulate qubits. For example Qiskit. 

You can download or get python for FREE, the interpreted language is available at X, however if you have an Apple Mac or Linux you might already have the python language already installed. To find out more about installing Python go to the official install page.

For an introductory course on Python try the EdX course on python https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-to-python-fundamentals-4 where you can learn from Microsoft how to use this versatile programming language.

Simulators and Running Quantum Experiments


Big Blue was the first to open its machines to the general public. If you want an introduction to the whole process including how to deploy and even how qubits bit, you’ll find almost everything you need from IBM. Perhaps not the easiest way to learn, but the material is good, detailed, but may not suit beginners. That said, if you are itching to try out and program a Quantum Computer, IBM could be the right platform for you.

Learn more about the IBM Quantum Computing Service https://www.ibm.com/quantum-computing/ and how you can create and run your own experiments.

Microsoft Station Q

As you would expect from one of the world’s leading software innovators, Microsoft have put both feet into the quantum world, certainly on the software side, even creating their very own language called Q#, pronounced Q sharp. As you would also expect they have full integration with their other tools such as Visual Studio making for a coherent way to learn to interact with Qubits. 

Microsoft doesn’t provide public hardware to run Quantum Algorithms on as IBM do but for most cases using a simulator is good enough. You can get the Quantum Developer Kit here from MS. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/quantum/development-kit 


Perhaps one of the newest entrants in the Quantum Computing space, rigetti, started by Chad Rigetti is leading the way in Quantum Cloud solutions. You can download and SDK and get using their cloud solutions. Their Forest SDK provides a way into simulating the Quantum World. It utilizes python and is very simple to code in – enabling you to perform things such as entanglement in just a few lines of python!


D-wave Quantum Computing Primer

One of the first providers of commercial Quantum Computers, Dwave has an introductory tutorial to Quantum which you can read. Perhaps not as sophisticated as an online course, but there is a nice Quantum Primer which you can read through. 


Quantum Programming and Coding Tutorials

If you fancy just getting right on with it and stuck into some basic examples like hello world, then you can get your hands dirty with these tutorials here.

Microsoft Q# Rapid Tutorial – Hello World

A basic tutorial for how you can create your very first Quantum Computing application. The quantum equivalent of “hello world” written in Microsoft’s own Quantum language Q#


Microsoft Q# Entanglement Tutorial 

Ever wondered how you can create an entangled state? This tutorial uses the Microsoft Q# language to build up small quantum experiments showing how entanglement works.