In English, “to mooch” means to get something without paying for it. The word “moocher” has been forever seared into American culture and consciousness by the superb jazz song “Minnie the Moocher”, sung by the highly charismatic and entertaining black performer Cab Calloway (Wikipedia entry for song/ lyrics/ youTube of Calloway singing it). “Minnie the Moocher” was sung by Calloway himself in the hilarious movie “The Blues Brothers” (Wikipedia entry for movie).
In a previous post, I spoke about how MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) are revolutionising higher education. You don’t have to pay anything to take them, at least for now, so taking one amounts to mooching.
But can one mooch specifically on the subject of QCs? Yes! There are at least two current MOOC offerings that, in my opinion, are highly relevant to quantum computing:
(Coursera) Probabilistic Graphical Models, taught by Stanford Prof. Daphne Koller
Next Session: Apr 8, 2013 (11 weeks long)
This course is based on the masterful, 1200 page book on Bayesian and Markov Networks by Daphne Koller and Nir Friedman. (I’ve spoken previously in this blog about their book, here and here). Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, both Stanford Profs., are the founders of Coursera.
(EdX) Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation, taught by Berkeley Prof. Umesh V. Vazirani
Classes for current term already started on: Feb 11, 2013
Very plain and elementary exposition of quantum computing covering only two algorithms (Shor and Grover). This course makes a very strong case for the claim that there are only two known algorithms for quantum computing. 🙂
Daphne’s course never mentions quantum mechanics, but I think that bayesian networks are FUNDAMENTAL to quantum computers. So I enthusiastically recommend her course to all QC aficionados.
I recommend Daphne’s course more strongly than Umesh’s. For one thing, Umesh’s course is very standard and Daphne’s is one of a kind. Besides, Daphne belongs to the Computer Science tribe that believes in applications (i.e., the programmers, the shakers and movers of the internet, the Big Shoulders, the brawny Code Butchers for the World), whereas Umesh belongs to that other CS tribe that uses the word application maybe once every five years (i.e., the complexity theorists). (Quantum complexity theorists are also notable for how slowly they move. Sometimes I suspect that molasses or Heinz ketchup is coursing through their veins. I think the last time a quantum complexity theorist invented a new, mildly useful QC algorithm was before you were born, sonny.)
Another bit of news: Recently, a “symposium” was held to celebrate John Preskill’s 60th birthday. The conference also celebrated the instituti which John founded, the IQIM. (I believe IQIM stands for I-CK-Y M-ashuganas. I believe the IQIMs are very active as a group, and that they are even considering putting out a calendar
for selling power tools like electric drills and such, with scantily clad women posing with the tools.)