CMSC 858O On the Foundation of End-to-End Quantum Applications, Spring 2024

Course Description

This is an exciting time for quantum computing! With the availability of prototypes of quantum machines, it becomes possible for quantum computing researchers to go beyond purely theoretical studies and investigate the implementation and actual performance of real-world quantum applications. However, there is a significant gap between current theoretical studies of quantum computing and practical applications on near-term quantum machines. The gap is multi-folded: e.g., the findings from the pure theoretical study are unfortunately NOT directly relevant/useful in the practice of quantum computing with a significant chance. Moreover, in addition to the conventional study of quantum computing that focuses on the methodology developed in algorithm design and complexity theory, new topics and methodologies would need to be explored to tackle many aspects of practical quantum computing.

This course aims to expose this gap and offer an opportunity to explore this rapidly evolving research frontier. In particular, we hope to explore the intersection of quantum computing with general research in computer science, such as algorithms, machine learning, programming languages, security/cryptography, architecture/system, network/communication, as well as some basics of quantum hardware control/design. We hope research in these relevant fields will pave the foundation for end-to-end quantum applications. A common mindset behind these topics, or computer science research in general, is the so-called computational thinking, which is an essential mind tool that enables computation to solve tasks that do not seem like computation on the surface.

Past offerings: Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Who should take this course?

Anyone interested in exploring the above topics could take this course. However, to facilitate the instruction of this course, it is expected that

  • you should be familiar with the fundamentals of quantum computing, e.g., have taken CMSC 457, 657, or anything equivalent;

  • you should have some experience with any of the above relevant computer science fields, or should be at least willing and able to catch up by reading provided research papers;

  • this course is highly research-oriented; ideally, you want to accomplish some original research, or at least identify some promising path toward an original research project, at the end of this course.

This course will involve the use of realistic quantum devices, some of which are already available through cloud access. It is expected the students will be able to implement some applications on these devices.

Format & Evaluation

This is an advanced graduate-level seminar course. Multiple topics, as listed in the syllabus page, will be covered in this course. Some basic topics will be delivered by the instructor, after which students are expected to take the initiative to read and present papers. It is expected that you read the corresponding references before all lectures, even if you are not presenting, for a more effective discussion.

Students are also expected to scribe lecture notes for the topics covered by the instructor. An important component of this course is a course project which will include a report and a final presentation.

Your grade for this course will consist of

  • Paper presentation: 15%, detailed instruction given in the lecture page.

  • Assignments: 20%. Two written assignments and two coding assignments.

  • Course project: 30%, detailed instruction given in the project page.

  • Exam: 30%. One take-home final exam!

  • Participation: 5%. Active participation in the course.

  • Lectures: TuTh 3pm - 4:45pm.

  • Instructor: Prof. Xiaodi Wu
    Email: xiaodiwu (at)

  • Location: IRB 1207

  • Syllabus: check here

  • Office hours:

    • Wu: during the extra time in the lecture or by appointment.

Social Media

  • We use Piazza as the discussion forum. Piazza is FERPA-compliant in that it protects the privacy of students, keeps the information private, and is not searchable by search engines. To participate, all students are expected to register with an email address of their choice.

  • We use ELMS for submissions of assignments and projects, as well as distributions of corresponding grades.

  • This website serves as the collection of information about the course, syllabus, handouts, and references. Please check frequently!

Academic Integrity

Note that academic dishonesty includes not only cheating, fabrication, and plagiarism but also includes helping other students commit acts of academic dishonesty by allowing them to obtain copies of your work. In short, all submitted work must be your own. Cases of academic dishonesty will be pursued to the fullest extent possible as stipulated by the Office of Student Conduct.

It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit For a complete treatment of course-related policies, please see:

Excused Absence and Academic Accommodations

Any student who needs to be excused for an absence from lectures should make a reasonable attempt to inform the instructor of his/her illness prior to the class. If there is any medical emergency, the instructor should be informed as soon as possible with official written documentation. Any student eligible for and requesting reasonable academic accommodations due to a disability is requested to provide a letter of accommodation from the Office of Disability Support Services within the first two weeks of the semester.

Inclusivity Statement

We understand that our members represent a rich variety of backgrounds and perspectives. The computer science department is committed to providing an atmosphere for learning that respects diversity. While working together to build this community we ask all members to:

  • share their unique experiences, values, and beliefs

  • be open to the views of others

  • honor the uniqueness of their colleagues

  • appreciate the opportunity that we must learn from each other in this community

  • value each other's opinions and communicate in a respectful manner

  • keep confidential discussions that the community has of a personal (or professional) nature

  • use this opportunity together to discuss ways in which we can create an inclusive environment in this course and across the UMD community

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