Quantum Bayesian Networks

March 14, 2013

Be a QC MOOC-her

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 6:41 pm

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.)



  1. The link to youTube of Calloway singing doesn’t seem to work.

    Comment by siteadmin — March 14, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

  2. BTW I am currently mouching the EdX course by Prof. Vazirani. Well put together course material. So far it has been easy based on my QM knowledge, but now going into the midterm the quantum circuits are the focus and I have to start paying more attention.

    Comment by Henning — March 14, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

  3. Hi Henning, I fixed that link. Thanks for telling me about it.

    Comment by rrtucci — March 14, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

  4. Based on the title of this post, I thought you were going to announce a new MOOC devoted to the Grover-Tucci algorithm. I am disappoint.

    Comment by Max Born — March 17, 2013 @ 1:12 am

  5. Hi Max Born, love your rule. Thanks for the support but I think I would be a lousy MOOC teacher. My only ambition for now is to write a half decent blog.

    Comment by rrtucci — March 17, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

  6. Thought I share the current statistics from the ExX QC course (it is still ongoing). Had no idea that it’ll reach that many people:

    Number of students in the course
    # enrolled students: ~20k
    # students who submitted assignment 1: ~7k
    # students who submitted assignment 4: ~2.5k
    # students who submitted the midterm: ~2.3k
    From last semester’s experience, we estimate that at any given point in the course, # students who watch the lectures is twice as many as # students who submit assignments.
    Geographical distribution
    USA (22%)
    India (13%)
    UK (5%)
    Spain (4%)
    Russia (4%)
    Brazil (3%)
    Canada (3%)
    Then there are about 10 countries with 1~2% and 90 countries with less than 1%.
    Age distribution
    About half of the students are between 18 and 25.
    10% of the students are younger than 18 or older than 50.

    Comment by Henning — March 27, 2013 @ 2:41 am

  7. Very interesting. Thanks Henning.
    China, big loser. India is kicking your butt. Long live Ai Weiwei.
    España, bastante decente.¡Bravo!
    Où est la France? Mon Dieu, quelle merde.

    Comment by rrtucci — March 27, 2013 @ 8:42 am

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