Introduction to quantum information processing (CMSC 657, Fall 2023)

Course description

An introduction to the field of quantum information processing. Students will be prepared to pursue further study in quantum computing, quantum information theory, and related areas.


Basic model of quantum computation (reversible computing, qubits, unitary transformations, measurements, quantum protocols, quantum circuits); quantum algorithms (simple query algorithms, the quantum Fourier transform, Shor's factoring algorithm, Grover's search algorithm and its optimality); quantum complexity theory; mixed quantum states and quantum operations; quantum information theory (entropy, compression, entanglement transformations, quantum channel capacities); quantum error correction and fault tolerance; quantum nonlocality; quantum cryptography (key distribution and bit commitment); selected additional topics as time permits.

See the detailed schedule (which may evolve as the semester progresses) for more on the course content, including recommended readings.


Familiarity with complex numbers and basic concepts in linear algebra (e.g., eigenvalues, eigenvectors, Hermitian and unitary matrices) is required. Students should have strong mathematical skills but are not expected to have taken previous courses in quantum mechanics or the theory of computation. If you have any questions about your preparation for the course, please contact the instructor.



Andrew Childs (
In-person office hour: Tuesday, 1–2 pm, ATL 3359 (enter QuICS suite through 3100, turn left to enter wing 3, then turn right)
Zoom office hour: Wednesday, 10–11 am (Zoom link provided on Canvas)

Teaching assistant

Nolan Coble (
Zoom office hour: Monday, 1–2 pm (Zoom link provided on Canvas)
In-person office hour: Thursday, 3–4 pm, ATL 3100C


We will use Piazza for class announcements and discussion. You should sign yourself up for the course Piazza page as soon as possible. This is the best way to stay up to date on what is happening in the course and to quickly get help from classmates, TAs, and the instructor. Instead of emailing questions to the teaching staff, please post questions on Piazza. You are encouraged to post questions publicly whenever possible so the whole class can benefit from the discussion, though you can also post private questions for any personal issues. Please do not use any other online forum for course-wide discussion without prior permission of the instructor.


Michael A. Nielsen and Isaac L. Chuang, Quantum Computation and Quantum Information, Cambridge University Press (2000).


Your final grade will be determined as follows:

Assignments 45%
Project 25%
Final exam 30%

Your lowest assignment grade will be dropped. If you are unable to complete an assignment by its deadline due to an excused absence (as per the UMD graduate course policies), the remaining assignments will be reweighted.


There will be five homework assignments during the course. Assignments will be made available on Canvas and should be submitted using Gradescope. The course roster will be synced with Gradescope, so you should not need a code to get access, but will need to ensure that the email address listed for you in Canvas is associated with your Gradescope account. Please check that you are able to upload solutions by making a test submission well in advance of the first assignment deadline. Please submit completed assignments as PDF files, either as a typeset document or a clear scan of handwritten solutions, by the deadline stated on the assignment. Gradescope will not accept submissions after the deadline, and late assignments will not be accepted under any circumstances since solutions will be made avilable promptly on Canvas. You can replace a submission as many times as you like before the deadline (only the final submission will be graded).

Your answers to the assignment problems should be written neatly and concisely, and you should always aim to present the simplest possible solution. Your assignment grades will be based on both correctness and clarity. Graded assignments will be available on Gradescope. If you think a problem has been graded incorrectly, you may submit a regrade request on Gradescope. Regrade requests must be submitted within three business days after an assignment is returned and should include a detailed justification.

You are encouraged to discuss assignment problems with your peers, with the TA, and with the course instructor. However, your solutions should be based on your own understanding and should be written independently. You should not read solutions for the same or similar problems to the ones you are assigned until after your assignment has been submitted.


As a course project, you will work with a group of 2–3 students to learn about a topic of your choice from the quantum information literature and record a video presentation on that topic. Your group should submit a project proposal by Wednesday, October 11; a project progress report by Wednesday, November 8; and your completed presentation (with a short final project report) by Wednesday, December 6. Submissions should be made on Gradescope (except that your video will be uploaded using a link to be provided). Further details, including a partial list of possible project topics, are available on the project page.

Final exam

The course will include a comprehensive, take-home final exam. The exam will be made available on Canvas by 7 am on Wednesday, December 13, and will be due on Gradescope by 11:59 pm the same day. You may choose to take the exam during any two-hour period before the deadline.

Course policies and academic accommodations

We will follow the standard University of Maryland graduate course policies. You should be familiar with them.

Any student eligible for and requesting reasonable academic accommodations due to a disability is asked to provide an electronic letter of accommodation from the Accessibility and Disability Service office within the first two weeks of the semester. Please meet with the instructor to discuss any issues related to the implementation of your accommodations.

If you plan to observe any holidays during the semester that are not listed on the university calendar, please provide a list of these dates by the end of the first two weeks of the semester.

Notice of mandatory reporting

As a faculty member, the instructor is designated as a “Responsible University Employee,” and must report all disclosures of sexual assault, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, and stalking to UMD’s Title IX Coordinator per University Policy on Sexual Harassment and Other Sexual Misconduct.

If you wish to speak with someone confidentially, please contact one of UMD’s confidential resources, such as CARE to Stop Violence (located on the ground floor of the Health Center) at 301-741-3442 or the Counseling Center (located at the Shoemaker Building) at 301-314-7651.

You may also seek assistance or supportive measures from UMD’s Title IX Coordinator, Angela Nastase, by calling 301-405-1142, or emailing

To view further information on the above, please visit the website of the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct.

Course evaluations

Student feedback is an important part of evaluating instruction. The Department of Computer Science takes this feedback seriously and appreciates your input. Toward the end of the semester, please go to to complete your evaluation.

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