Quantum Books

Quantum Computing & Some Physics: Learning Quantum Computing with Comics

October 7, 2020

We featured Kitty Yeung a while back who is working at Microsoft (Quantum) and is an artist and also known for her highly creative work in helping learners understand Quantum Computing and Quantum Physics. The courses that she gave on Quantum Computing in her Comic Book series have now been made into a physical Book. We got one of the first copies and we review her highly original book.

Firstly to learn more about Kitty Yeung and her work, you can see our QZ interview with her, but to summarize, Kitty is a rare breed who works at the interface between two seemingly disparate domains: Quantum Computing and Art. Not only is she a Quantum Physicist by training, she is an accomplished Artist and holds the position of Senior Programme Manager at Microsoft Quantum.

The book is best enjoyed as part of the Hackaday series that the graphics come from. The pages have space for taking notes as the course progresses. (You can find the Hackaday series on Kitty’s website). We do think there is still a great deal of value in the book itself, as it contains many “key takeaways” in a fun way. So if you want the full experience, go and check-out the Quantum course. Being at the boundary of two ‘worlds’ such as Art and Science, forces the need to foster great communication and as Kitty has been running educational programmes to teach quantum computing, she knows the difficult parts that learners have with the concepts and I can see that she addresses these.

She won’t expressly tell you how to code for a Quantum Computer, she is interested in getting over the fundamentals in a way that remains agnostic to whatever quantum computing platform is chosen. However in the class does use Q# (pronounced Q-sharp) which is an open source Quantum Computing language.

Kitty Yeung completed her PhD in Applied Physics at Harvard and works for Microsoft on Quantum education. She is also an accomplished artist!
Dr. Kitty Yeung completed her PhD in Applied Physics at Harvard and works for Microsoft on Quantum education. She is also an accomplished artist!

What we love most about the book is that it pares down the complexity of the field of Quantum into very simple and easy to understand concepts on each page. Carefully constructed without too much mathematics, it does have equations but only in the minimal sense (no elaborate proof’s) and the beauty is that each page introduces a topic in a carefully curated manner.

What we particularly like is the background to why anyone would be interested in quantum computing and Kitty Yeung does a great job of explaining the difference between a classical and Quantum bit (qubit).

Let’s be honest, Quantum is hard without recourse to including concepts of Linear Algebra, but most people can get a great understanding of how Quantum Computing works without the usual mathematical proof’s that are found in most textbooks. Basically the art of a great book is what you leave out in the quest of getting the meaning over.

Dr. Kitty Yeung's Book is available on Amazon.
Dr. Kitty Yeung’s Book is available on Amazon.

What “Quantum computing and Some Physics” does is explore the raw concepts of quantum computing in a fun way without skipping the important concepts. You are in safe hands with the author because not only is she an artist who produced the Quantum comics, she is a Harvard educated PhD in Applied Physics, so you can be sure she knows the field and clearly one can see the care in taking time to carefully pace the content.

The book is actually a spin off from the work that Kitty has done in educating learners on Quantum Computing. There is a great deal of effort in choosing the flow and concepts to take learners from essentially no knowledge to understanding the core quantum computing concepts like superposition, physical qubits, Pauli gates, Grover’s algorithm etc. The book is a great reference too for those who know Quantum Computing, as without any mathematical proof it provides an original and refreshing way to reference and learn the fundamentals.

Never too early to inspire the next generation of Quantum Computer scientists

Of course the art work is great and really helps get over some of the concepts in a playful way. I wish there was a slightly larger form factor, but that doesn’t detract from any readability and fun. The book is easy to keep with you for the bus/train (when we return to post Covid semi normality). It’s difficult to put an age range on the book, but the early part of the work can be used to explain the basics that would certainly appeal to a much younger age range. Potentially a great learning resource for teachers and educators. This is one of the most refreshing and compact ways of learning Quantum Computing. For more details on the course go to Kitty’s website.