For over 20 years, I walked into classrooms and explained to university students how quantum computing works — then erased the board and left.
I hope those transient events have value in the memories of those in attendance. But not everyone interested in learning about quantum computing is able to attend courses like the ones I taught. Many universities lack courses and programs on quantum computing, and many people are turned away by those that do. For countless others, attending a university is impractical or impossible.
Education doesn’t need to be restricted in this way. The importance of direct interaction between educators and learners is abundantly clear. But should we not also put our efforts into creating engaging content with lasting value — to build something, rather than just repeating ourselves and erasing the board? And in doing so, could we not dramatically expand access to high-quality education rather than restricting it to a select few?
IBM Quantum recently announced a new mission statement: to bring useful quantum computing to the world and to make the world quantum-safe. I am pleased to have joined IBM Quantum in this mission, the success of which I believe depends on education. By bringing quantum education to a scale commensurate with global demand and interest, we may hope not just to train a quantum workforce, but to enable people to apply their own creativity, insights, and domain-specific knowledge to find the quantum advantages that the industry will rely upon.
Could we not dramatically expand access to high-quality education rather than restricting it to a select few?
The IBM Quantum and Qiskit communities have long produced valuable open source content, to promote the use and understanding of quantum computing. Today, we’re going one step further by providing free access to university-level education on quantum computing.
Last month, we released the first installment of Understanding Quantum Information and Computation, a series consisting of video lessons and textbook content that explains how quantum computing works, as well as the same detailed mathematical level that I taught in my courses. My goal for the series is simple: to explain what I know about quantum computing, to the best of my abilities and for anyone who’s interested.
The series is a work-in-progress. In the near-term, we plan to release lessons monthly, until the first unit of the series (on the basics of quantum information) is complete. Subsequent units will cover topics including quantum algorithms and techniques to mitigate noise in quantum computers.
The series will be used in part to support the We plan to release Qiskit Global Summer School details in 2023. Please continue to check our events website.2023 Qiskit Global Summer School, which offers participants an interactive, cohort-based, hands-on experience with quantum computing. As we continue to build the series out, we will add labs, problem sets, and more.
Our plan is for this series to form part of the foundation of a larger educational program that supports widely varied educational paths and provides the means for learners to progress: from being curious, to being serious, to working in the field of quantum computing for a living. The program will also support educators, providing tools that allow for a customized creation of learning paths. We expect that contributions to quantum computing will come in many forms, including ones we do not currently see, and our goal is to enable this by providing high-quality quantum education, at multiple levels, to meet the diverse needs of our field.
This education might occur at the individual level or at the enterprise level, where organizations looking to prepare for the coming impact of quantum on their industries can take advantage of the The IBM Quantum Accelerator is our full-service offering for clients looking to build on access offered by the Premium Plan. Accelerator clients get personalized support plans to fully prepare for the coming impact of quantum on their industries. Read more.IBM Quantum Accelerator offering. The Accelerator supports participants ranging from business leaders and domain experts to data scientists and developers as they build foundational knowledge of quantum technology and develop proofs of concept for potential quantum applications.
Ultimately, education is something that must evolve to fit the needs of society, and as we look at our world today, we must recognize the effects that a lack of access to high-quality education has. Our technology already provides us with the tools we need to scale education globally; what remains is for educators to use these tools to their full potential. Through a broad commitment to this task, we could one day see a world where nobody is held back by a lack of access to education.
There are, of course, many who do engage in this endeavor — but much remains to be done. I can only add my contribution, which will be to explain how I think about quantum computing. I hope that learners and educators alike will find it to be useful.
Date14 Dec 2022
- Note 1: We plan to release Qiskit Global Summer School details in 2023. Please continue to check our events website. ↩︎
- Note 2: The IBM Quantum Accelerator is our full-service offering for clients looking to build on access offered by the Premium Plan. Accelerator clients get personalized support plans to fully prepare for the coming impact of quantum on their industries. Read more. ↩︎