Quantum Journey 4: Realizing I don’t get it

I was excited; I was thrilled; I was… hopeful.

It took a lot of denial, but I’m happy to announce that we’ve finally reached the cliff that the “fake it till’ you make it” trail leads you too.

Funnily enough, Quentin (fellow macaron enthusiast and quantum computing study buddy) and I had a conversation last week when going through chapter 2 of the Qiskit textbook.

*Paraphrased*

Q (presenting his slides): Yeah, I didn’t really understand this part, should we go through chapter 2 again or just power through it?

C: No, we have to power through it.

Q: Great, I was hoping you’d say that.

Cutaway to me navigating to the introduction of chapter 3, seeing 12 sections, deciding to start, and being eager to get through them…. Only fall stuck, naked and afraid, down a hole of Youtube videos and Medium articles in an attempt to try to understand Quantum Teleportation, Superdense Cooling, and the Jozsa-whatever-thing (the 3 algorithms that would be included in my first slideshow). I knew I was in a pickle when not even the *glorious* foreign accent of the host of the Quantum Computing for the Determined videos wasn’t powerful enough to make me understand.

See, the end of chapter 2 concludes with this idea that the single qubit gates and CNOT gates that we’d been introduced to are universal and can be combined to form any computation. That’s really exciting stuff… until you (I*) realized that maybe you (I*) aren’t as well-versed in the information as you should be. And that takes us into week 4 of QC101.

Women Who Code: Intro to Quantum Computing with Python and Qiskit Workshop

Women Who Code Intro to Quantum Computing Webinar

This past Monday I attended a webinar hosted by a pH.D research student named Sara Metwalli, who I obviously connected with on LinkedIn following her presentation. I want to go ahead and issue an apology to each of the 5 quantum information enthusiasts I’ve added on LinkedIn this past month. This webinar was a good review of the foundations of quantum information (explaining qubits, Superposition and Entanglement and why Quantum Advantage is “a thing”), as well as 4 gates: I, X, CNOT, and H. I liked her presentation a lot, some of that might be because I had already heard the information prior.

Something I found out about Sara is that this was not her first WWC presentation, and that she had done a Quantum Teleportation workshop in the past. I quickly cloned that repository and went through it, hopeful that this would be the thing that helps me understand 3.1 of the Qiskit textbook. It definitely helped, as did the other resources, but I still wasn’t “getting it”.

Week 4, Lecture 1 Slides (Theme: Guinea Pigs)

QC101 on Wednesday

I did have a set of slides (theme: guinea pigs) ready for Wednesday, which went through a set of explanations for sections 3.1–3.3… which progressively got worse before concluding that *maybe* we had to have a review of old material. I was guilty of not doing every example problem, and I was even more guilty, of neglecting all of the Linear Algebra. Somewhat defeated that this would be the week we didn’t get through a whole chapter, I didn’t know which other resource to turn to if not the Qiskit textbook and the man with the glorious accent.

That’s when a perfectly-timed notification appeared to me on Facebook from the Qiskit User Group. God bless “Yuri Kobayashi”, the magnificent beast who posted notifying the group that the Qiskit summer school lectures (complete with lecture notes and labs!!!)) had been released to the public that morning. I was excited; I was thrilled; I was… hopeful.

Unfortunately, last week I promised myself last week I needed to take more consistent breaks and focus on my schoolwork, so I couldn’t dive into them.

HOWEVER, the weekend finally came, and after hosting a mini-mostly-unsuccessful-24 hour hackathon to create my personal website, I decided to neglect my ECE 211 work to go through the first section of the Summer School playlist: 3 1-hour lectures and a lab.

Elisa, the woman who hosted the lectures is a very talented instructor. I really enjoyed how she explained things (especially the math), and appreciated the component of taking group questions, some of which I never considered such as: “What does the Qiskit logo even represent?”. Something else I liked is that it doesn’t feel like I’m taking a huge step back because a lot of things in the videos are expanding on what was mentioned in the book and the lectures also go much faster. For example, lectures 1–3 go through parts of chapters 1–3.1, something that took our QC 101 class three week.

The lectures are pretty much what I think Quentin and I had imagined when creating the class syllabus, except the difference is that the Qiskit people actually know what they’re talking about. In fact, my second slideshow of the week was expanding some of the concepts I had glossed over and I think we’re restructuring QC-101.

Two slides from Week 4(.5), Lecture 2

Yes, I’m sure some of the satisfaction and ease of-learning came from already having an initial exposure to the material, but I’m still excited about the sacred, once forbidden, summer school class being released to the public.

Notable Mention: Mi Papito

I started telling my dad (mi papito) all about quantum computing last week. We would be in the kitchen and he’d ask questions that I was still figuring out the answers too. Last week he sent me this random link on the IBM site about their quantum computer.

Obviously I know IBM has a quantum computer, but what I thought was really wholesome was that this meant that he was going out of his way to research quantum computing in his free time so that he could have a better understanding on the things I was talking about.

One last update:

Tomorrow I’m meeting with the woman in charge of funding for the College of Engineering at my school. She said she’s hopeful that tomorrow’s meeting is the last step so they can help me cover the costs of the IEEE Quantum Week Conference!

Homework

  • Finish Section 2 of the Qiskit Summer School
  • Stop neglecting Linear Algebra

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