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About this course

Welcome to 8.370.1x Quantum Information Science I, Part I

This course is part of a three-course-module series that provides an introduction to the theory and practice of quantum computation. We cover:

  • The physics of information processing

  • Quantum logic gates

  • Quantum algorithms including Shor's factoring algorithm and Grover's search algorithm

  • Quantum error correction

  • Quantum communication and key distribution

This course module will help you establish a foundation of knowledge for understanding what quantum computers can do, how they work, and how you can contribute to discovering new things and solving problems in quantum information science and engineering.

The three-course-module series comprises:

  • 8.370.1x: Foundations of quantum and classical computing – quantum mechanics, reversible computation, and quantum measurement

  • 8.370.2x: Simple quantum protocols and algorithms – teleportation and superdense coding, the Deutsch-Jozsa and Simon's algorithm, Grover's quantum search algorithm, and Shor's quantum factoring algorithm

  • 8.370.3x: Foundations of quantum communication – noise and quantum channels, and quantum key distribution

Prior knowledge of quantum mechanics is helpful but not required. It is best if you know some linear algebra.

A second course-module sequence, 8.371x, will follow, covering more advanced content, including fault-tolerant quantum computation, advanced quantum communication, and advanced quantum algorithms.

The three sub-units of 8.370.1x Quantum Information Science I, Part I

In this 8.370.1x course module, we cover:

  • Subunit 1:  [mathjaxinline]~[/mathjaxinline] quantum and classical computing fundamentals, including the history and development of quantum computation, and classical computation and reversibility

  • Subunit 2:  [mathjaxinline]~[/mathjaxinline] qubits and tensor products in quantum mechanics, spanning from states used to represent quantum information, to the formalism of tensor products, for describing how multiple states are put together, and unitary transforms, which describe state evolution

  • Subunit 3:  [mathjaxinline]~[/mathjaxinline] quantum measurement and quantum weirdness, presenting the formalism for measuring quantum states, and the strange behaviors obtained from such measurements, due to quantum entanglement

Textbook and Refernces

You may find it helpful to refer to: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information, by Nielsen and Chuang. There are also excellent, freely available lecture notes by John Preskill, and superb video lectures by Daniel Gottesman.

Also possibly available are: MIT 8.05x courses on quantum mechanics, and Berkeley's CS191 course. The Caltech-TU Delft course on quantum cryptography may also be insightful.

This is an intermediate, graduate-level course, and you are expected to largely learn the material on your own. The discussion forums may be a good avenue for help from peers; there will be occasional (but not full-time) help from course staff, on the forums.

Assessments and Deadlines

This course module begins on Monday, January 15, 2018, and all the content is available immediately. The three subunits each has concept questions embedded within the lectures, and an assessment problem set, with due dates:

  • Subunit 1: January 24, 2018

  • Subunit 2: February 5, 2018

  • Subunit 3: February 16, 2018

Grading and Certificates

The course grade is determined entirely by the concept questions (30%) and problem sets (70%), with the following cutoffs:

  • 90% : A

  • 80% : B

  • 70% : C

The minimum passing grade for a verified-ID certificate is 70%.

Honor Code

As described in the edX Honor code, you are expected to:

  • Complete all tests and assignments on my own, unless collaboration on an assignment is explicitly permitted.

  • Maintain only one user account and not let anyone else use my username and/or password.

  • Not engage in any activity that would dishonestly improve my results, or improve or hurt the results of others.

  • Not post answers to problems that are being used to assess student performance.


This course has been authored by one or more members of the Faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its educational objectives, methods, assessments, and the selection and presentation of its content are solely the responsibility of MIT. MIT gratefully acknowledges major support for this course, provided by IBM Research. This course on quantum information science is a collective effort to further advance knowledge and understanding in quantum information and quantum computing.

Entrance Survey

We would greatly appreciate if you could please fill in the entrance survey as you begin the course. This will help us improve understand who is using this material, and how it may be improved for future users like you.