‘18.435: Quantum Computation’

Table of contents

  1. Course Info
  2. Realistic Prerequisites
  3. Subject Matter
  4. Course Staff
  5. Lectures
  6. Problem Sets
  7. Exams
  8. Resources
  9. Grading
  10. Advice to Future Students

Course Info

Class Size 70
Hours/Week 9.4 (21 responses)
Instructors Peter Williston Shor
Overall Rating 5.1/7.0

Realistic Prerequisites

  • Linear algebra and complex numbers are necessary.
  • Previous experience with quantum mechanics in a class such as 8.04 is not necessary, but some students considered it very helpful.
  • Previous experience with algorithms or theoretical CS may be helpful.

Subject Matter

  • Students thought the class provided a broad and theoretical take on quantum computing.
  • Some also thought it improved their understanding of applied linear algebra and quantum mechanics.

Course Staff

  • Both the professor and the TA were described as approachable and helpful.
  • Staff were easily available through Piazza and OH.


  • Students said they learned the most from lecture notes, psets, and other outside sources.
  • Reviews of lectures were mixed - while some said they contained useful examples, several students claimed lectures were disorganized and hard to follow.

Problem Sets

  • Most considered psets challenging, requiring significant time and creativity.
  • Some thought they were more computational than PSets in other courses.
  • Students generally thought psets were fun and helpful despite the high effort required.


  • Most students thought exams were difficult but not unreasonable.
  • The practice exams were considered very useful to prepare.


  • Most students used the class lecture notes as their primary resource and considered them to be helpful.
  • Many considered the class textbook, Quantum Computation and Quantum Information by Nielsen and Chuang, to be a useful supplement.


  • Students seem to feel that grading was fair overall.

Advice to Future Students

  1. “Be prepared to take extra time to read other resources and head to OH.”
  2. “If you want to understand quantum computers - take this class. If you want an easy A - don’t.”
  3. “Don’t take this course unless you have a solid background in theoretical cs/information theory.”