Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Sat Feb 23, 2008 9:54 pm

What are the best schools for these? What should I do to get in? What kinds of courses should I be taking?

Right now I'm a junior at a basically unknown university.

Right now I'm double majoring in Physics and Mathematics, and I'll have taken a decent amount of computer science theory and discrete math courses when I graduate (graph theory, combinatorics, theory of automata, analysis of algorithms, complexity theory). I probably don't have time to take other advanced courses like Information Theory and Quantum Computing which are also pretty much unavailable (although I'll study them anyway).

Hopefully I can pull of some decent independent research, and maybe even put together a course for this stuff.

Would getting a good score in the CS GRE or the Math GRE help my chances? What are the detriments to taking 5 years? I don't see how I can get a decent publication out in the next few months, so taking 5 years feels pretty inevitable.

So, any thoughts on my questions? Thanks.

May the wind be always at your back,
-Wonton Burrito Meals

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grae313
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby grae313 » Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:37 pm

There really is no detriment to taking five years. For most people it really helps. Start studying for the physics GRE early, and try to get it done early so that you aren't worrying about it at the same time as applications. Get some quality publications out and see if you can get a poster presentation at a conference or two.

Yale is excellent in quantum computing. I'm sure all the usual suspects are good too. The best thing to do is look at their websites and read through all the faculty's research descriptions. That is what everyone else here has done. Keep a little spreadsheet of whose research interests you at each school. Get As in all your classes. Start your applications early. Spend lots of time on your statement of purpose and make sure many eyes read it and give you feedback.

Doing well on the CS and/or Math GREs will look spiffy, but it won't be a deal-maker. The physics GRE is absolutely vital, as are your grades, your recommendation letters, and your research experience. The other stuff is just icing on the cake, but don't sacrifice the quality of your cake for some pretty icing. There are only four old ETS physics GRE tests available to practice with so use them wisely. The real test is most similar to 0177, so save it for last. Take one of the practice tests early to see how much you really need to study to get the kind of score you want. Do not underestimate it.

Good luck :)

nvanmeter
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby nvanmeter » Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:15 pm

i have a publication in quantum information theory as an undergrad and applied to the fellowships as quantum information theory. here's my advice:
1) get 900+ on the GRE (you're applying to theory, so this is your version of "lab experience" in some ways)
2) try to attend something like the Quantum Information Summer School (they have one of these in Canada each summer and it's meant for upper undergrads/grad students, they also have a conference afterwards for the students to present their research - you will meet all the right people here and get well-introduced to the field). it'll also look really good on a resume.
3) study the bible (Nielsen/Chuang), but do so in a way that is provable on an application, like in an independent study class and then talk about it in your personal statement (besides making it look like you've done your homework, this will make you seem very motivated)
4) try to get a publication. but you might want to do this dependently - the learning curve for publishing in a field like this is kind of high and you won't be guaranteed a publication unless you latch on to someone who can direct you to try problems they know will be fruitful within a short period of time.
5) try to get an REU or something in the field. there are plenty and some aren't well-advertised but exist, so look hard.

Zoe
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby Zoe » Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:43 pm

PM me with any questions you have. I'm very involved with this (couple pubs, decent connections)

IQC in Waterloo takes students from all over the world every four months on work terms. Apply early and email an introduction to the professor that seems the most interesting. They are all fantastic and you will be likely to get a publication out of your time there if you work hard. They all are fantastically connected to all the big places around the globe. It's the biggest comprehensive QI theory place in the world.

Know Neilson and Chuang inside and out before you start working on QI. It will save you a LOT of time. If you university offers undergraduate reading courses (they might be possible and unadvertised) try and get a supervisor for one reading N&C. Decide if you prefer algorithms, architectures or foundations. There are different places to go for each.

Calgary also offers something similar, and Montreal does as well (less on the theory side, but they're there.) Outside of Canada, it would be beneficial to involve yourself with someone well known in your field (best places being Caltech, MIT and Oxbridge). I'm not familiar with the undergraduate research opportunities there.

Keep an open mind towards simulation work. There's so much to be done and you can get some excellent results quickly, albeit not from either a pure theoretical/experimental setting.

KNOW MATH. Take math electives, and do very well in them. Combinatorics and Analysis are useful. This is a very popular field and you will need to stand out to survive.

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Sun Feb 24, 2008 1:42 am

Wow! That's a lot of help really fast!

I feel confident in my abilities on the GRE. The questions that pertain to the courses I've taken are very doable and I tend to be pretty good at standerdized tests anyway.

If you graduate in Fall 2010, you would probably apply for grad. schools in Winter 2009, right? So you would want to take the GRE probably twice before you apply, so like Summer and Fall 2009?

Also, I've heard that theory is really competitive, but is it even more competitive with QIT? That sounds scarry >.<. I feel lucky that I'm not interested in Astrophysics which I've heard is really competitive.

Also, I'm not familiar with Neilson and Chuang. I will fix that very shortly. Mostly, I've been tied up with physics stuff, but I've also tried to go through Knuth and a few friends.

Also, is it too late to apply for QI summer internships for this year? I did a crappy job looking for those this year and none of the places I've applied to so far are directly related to QI. Luckily, I still have next summer. I realise that I should have come to this site very long ago.

Thanks for the help!

May the wind be always at your back,
-Wonton Burrito Meals

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grae313
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby grae313 » Sun Feb 24, 2008 1:57 am

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:If you graduate in Fall 2010, you would probably apply for grad. schools in Winter 2009, right? So you would want to take the GRE probably twice before you apply, so like Summer and Fall 2009?


Applications for domestic students are due in mid December at the earliest and mid January at the latest for most top 50 programs. So yes, that would be winter '09. The physics GRE is only offered in April, October, and November, if I remember correctly. If you are going to have all your coursework at time enough to prepare, then taking it April '09 could be a very good thing. If you get 900+, you can relax during the next semester which is an awfully stressful time. If you don't do as well as you hoped, you can try it again.

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:Also, I've heard that theory is really competitive, but is it even more competitive with QIT? That sounds scarry >.<.


Yep, extremely competitive.


Also, is it too late to apply for QI summer internships for this year? I did a crappy job looking for those this year and none of the places I've applied to so far are directly related to QI. Luckily, I still have next summer. I realise that I should have come to this site very long ago.


For getting into a top school, good research experience is absolutely essential. These days, good research is no longer a summer REU and a poster abstract. Start doing research TODAY (OK, as soon as possible) and continue to do research until you graduate. That means not only a summer gig, but all through the semesters too. There must be some summer position where the deadline has not passed yet. Apply for it. Tell every single one of your professors that you are extremely interested in doing research, so that if they know of an opportunity, they will come to you and ask you if you are interested. First author publications are a very good thing.

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butsurigakusha
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby butsurigakusha » Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:31 am

I think it would be best not to plan to take the GRE twice. If you are going to take it in April, prepare for it like it is your one shot. Then, if you do as well as you expected, you will save yourself a lot of stress in the fall, and will be able to focus on research and applications. If you end up getting a score that is less than your expectation, you can retake it in the fall. But don't take the April test as if it were a practice test, with the real test coming in October. You don't want to needlessly put yourself through the stress of two tests.

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grae313
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby grae313 » Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:33 am

butsurigakusha wrote:I think it would be best not to plan to take the GRE twice. If you are going to take it in April, prepare for it like it is your one shot. Then, if you do as well as you expected, you will save yourself a lot of stress in the fall, and will be able to focus on research and applications. If you end up getting a score that is less than your expectation, you can retake it in the fall. But don't take the April test as if it were a practice test, with the real test coming in October. You don't want to needlessly put yourself through the stress of two tests.


I agree completely

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:40 am

I'm just been doing research in atomic physics with my professor, just not QIS. Hopefully we can start shooting out publications soon. I'm set to give a talk in about three weeks at SB. The worst part is that I have to get a hair cut.

Hm. I guess I'll start looking for other local research sources, especially in QIS. Multiple research groups at once while taking a full load of classes? WHY NOT???

And how does one get a first author publication, anyway?

It's really amazing what we are doing now adays. I'm the only one in my department that's focused in this way, so it's really helpful to have people like you guys to help out. What's most dissapointing is that it looks like I'll have to cut off extraneous studying. Fare thee well group theory, Moby Dick, quantum gravity, QED, and my other friends. I won't be seeing you for a while.

May the wind be always at your back,
-Wonton Burrito Meals

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grae313
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby grae313 » Sun Feb 24, 2008 5:25 am

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:And how does one get a first author publication, anyway?



I'll tell you how I did it. I wound up in a research group lead by a senior scientist who cared about his students and wanted to help our careers. Once I had been working in the group for a few months, I was assigned the lead roll on the next project, which means I direct it, take the data, and write the paper. There is a lead investigator for each project in our group and it is always a student.

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zxcv
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby zxcv » Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:35 pm

So I'm also applying to a number of places often though not strictly with a focus on quantum information theory. I haven't had quite as much luck yet as some of the folks giving you advice, but I'm gotten in a couple top 20 schools so far which will do just fine for me.

I did my research in the field in one summer at a university across the country. It was great, and I think I got some publishable results (my adviser thought so) but he basically flaked out once I left. I sent him a draft of a paper and he never wrote back with comments :(. There's always the uncertain element if you work with someone away from your home institution, and while I'm generally pretty happy with my experience, the guy I worked with was not a great communicator by email. But there wasn't anyone doing what I wanted at my home institution anyways, so it was sort of a wash. Getting publications as an undergrad before you apply to grad school has a lot to do with luck, and from what I've heard grad schools do understand that.

From my experience, it was very difficult to even find REU's doing theoretical physics, never mind a specific field like quantum information theory, which I mostly stumbled onto by chance. I think the operative strategy is to identify specific researchers even if they aren't listed on an REU website, as hard as that may be, and try to use them directly to get into an REU or get funding for research in another way. Find someone doing something cool, and write them.

I'll third mastering Neilson and Chuang (or at least large portions of it) as a prerequisite to research. I read through about half the text before I started and it made a huge difference.

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Sun Feb 24, 2008 1:15 pm

Getting publications as an undergrad before you apply to grad school has a lot to do with luck, and from what I've heard grad schools do understand that.


That's why it's called QUANTUM information theory! Am I right, folks? Am I right?

Eh? Eh?

Anyway, I'll just do some research this summer at some place where I'm likely to get some stuff done. I'll master the bible and look around for QIT opportunities in the Bay Area to do research next year and the summer afterwards. I mean come on! It's enough to expect you to know what kind of research you're going to do in grad. school coming in, and then their's expecting you to know what it is your Junior year and that you're capable of doing it.

I'll tell you how I did it. I wound up in a research group lead by a senior scientist who cared about his students and wanted to help our careers. Once I had been working in the group for a few months, I was assigned the lead roll on the next project, which means I direct it, take the data, and write the paper. There is a lead investigator for each project in our group and it is always a student.


I read your story on you blog, and it was really inspiring (although I hate that word. Genius is only 1% it after all). Maybe I'll take the initiative and look for something like this.

I did my research in the field in one summer at a university across the country. It was great, and I think I got some publishable results (my adviser thought so) but he basically flaked out once I left. I sent him a draft of a paper and he never wrote back with comments . There's always the uncertain element if you work with someone away from your home institution, and while I'm generally pretty happy with my experience, the guy I worked with was not a great communicator by email. But there wasn't anyone doing what I wanted at my home institution anyways, so it was sort of a wash. Getting publications as an undergrad before you apply to grad school has a lot to do with luck, and from what I've heard grad schools do understand that.


Sorry to hear that. =( Similar thing happened to us. A grad student we flew in from France did a whole bunch of work to design some magnetic coils, and after a virus, we lost all of our information except for a single picture. He worked here his whole summer for basically nothing and didn't get a single publication out.

Se la ve.

May the wind be always at your back,
-Wonton Burrito Meals

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grae313
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby grae313 » Sun Feb 24, 2008 2:34 pm

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:I read your story on you blog, and it was really inspiring (although I hate that word. Genius is only 1% it after all). Maybe I'll take the initiative and look for something like this.


hehe cool, and thanks! So you are in the bay area? we might be neighbors... I'm in SJ, and I do my research at Ames because I do not attend a research institution. Once I let my professors know how interested I was in doing research, they all started coming to me with opportunities and I didn't even have to look around. The guy I work with at Ames is a collaborator with a chemistry professor at my school.

If there are no QI profs at your school, see if there is a school nearby with a prof doing QI research. I've found that people are generally very receptive to helping you do this, if you show that you are motivated and capable. If you live near Ames or Livermore, you can try to get a position with them, too. There are official programs, but if one of your profs has an "in" then you can get paid without filling out any applications.

People are right that it is really hit or miss with the publications, but even if an admissions prof can rationalize that it is a crap shoot, I don't think that negates the impact of having several quality publications and a first author publication or two on your statement of purpose. I spoke with a lot of admissions people at various schools and they all said the same thing from UC Santa Cruz to Stanford: your job in graduate school will be to perform research, and we will be reading your application to gauge your research abilities and potential. You only take classes for two years, and your grades and LORs will tell them what manner of student you are. What is more important is what manner of researcher are you, and everything you can do to show them that you can be successful is going to help. Showing them that you are already a successful researcher is the best scenario. I agree that it is unrealistic to expect undergraduates to already have a research career, but this is the game we play, and if you want to succeed, you gotta play it! It's good that you are already doing research and speaking at conferences. I hope you've looked through the profiles thread to get a good idea of what sort of profiles get in where.

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zxcv
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby zxcv » Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:47 pm

grae313, you're absolutely right on with that. Yes, getting publications is a gamble, but it's a gamble worth taking because the benefits are very substantial.

valloein
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby valloein » Mon Apr 06, 2009 8:12 pm

I thought I'd have to start a new topic but...

Has anyone been to/is currently at IQC ? How is the place ?
Might go there

a bucket
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Re: Quantum Information Theory and Quantum Computing

Postby a bucket » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:05 am

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:What are the best schools for these?


Two words... JQI, UMD.




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