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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference text - hard to learn from for the first time
This book has found its many uses as a reference. In particular the citations helped me locate key papers that I needed to work toward my research project. If you want to do research in this area than I recommend you add this text to your collection without question, however if you are trying to teach yourself quantum mechanics (like I did) I can suggest several other...
Published on December 31, 2004 by Jacob D. B.

versus
71 of 88 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for reference, poor for teaching,self-study
I am actually teaching a course involving Quantum Computing. I am using this book because it is better than other books I have seen. However that still doesn't mean this is a good book!
I have a BSc in Physics and a PhD in mathematics and I work in a Computer Science Department so one would expect that it would be relatively easy to follow this text. However often...
Published on October 20, 2001 by Dr. Julian Miller


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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference text - hard to learn from for the first time, December 31, 2004
By 
This review is from: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information (Cambridge Series on Information and the Natural Sciences) (Paperback)
This book has found its many uses as a reference. In particular the citations helped me locate key papers that I needed to work toward my research project. If you want to do research in this area than I recommend you add this text to your collection without question, however if you are trying to teach yourself quantum mechanics (like I did) I can suggest several other books that will help you along your quest.

This book lacks worked examples, I recommend the worked problems text: (Problems & Solutions in Quantum Computing & Quantum Information, ISBN: 9812387900) This book also skips over many `simple' concepts as expected for the depth of coverage. The kindest introduction to quantum computing out of the dozen books on my shelf is:
(Approaching Quantum Computing, Dan C. Marinescu, Gabriela M. Marinescu , ISBN: 013145224X).

There are now many texts on the subject of quantum computing, but there is a reason why this text is citied hundreds of times by the top people in this field. For a research project you must get this book, if you are teaching a class it might be wise to mention this book and refer students to another text. I think that the text (Explorations in Quantum Computing, ISBN: 038794768X) is good in the amount of material covered, but does not go into depth on key points -- It could be argued that the Mathematica simulation files more than compensate for this. I have not had a chance to read the Gruska text (Quantum Computing, ISBN: 0077095030) since it is out of print for the time being. I hear a new addition is on its way and I am interested in reading that book.

I would say that this text will remain a classic but the material is not easy for me to grasp. The book is hard, but quantum computing is hard so this is expected. I could live without the other texts on my shelf, but I need NC. If you do buy this book search for the "Quantum Computing Tutorial by Mark Oskin", an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington. His notes were designed as a guide for his students using the NC text, and they will help you get through some key examples. I downloaded the file: quantum-notes.pdf but it is also free in latex for professors.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interdisciplinary!, August 12, 2002
By 
This review is from: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information (Cambridge Series on Information and the Natural Sciences) (Paperback)
Classical computation follows the model of A. Turing,-- strings of bits, i.e., 0s and 1s; a mathematical model, now called the Turing mashine. Analogues based instead on two-level quantum systems were suggested in the 1980ties by R.P. Feynman and D. Deutsch. But it wasn't until Peter Shor's qubit-factoring algorithm in the mid 1990ties that the subject really took off, and really caught the attention of the math community. That there is a polynomial factoring algorithm shook the encryption community as well, for obvious reasons. New elements of thinking in the quantum realm, and not part of the classical framework, include superposition of (quantum) states, and (quantum) coherence. This makes a drastic change in the whole theoretical framework when one passes from the classical notion of bit-registers to that of qubit-registers. In passing from logic gates to quantum gates(unitary matrices), the concept of switching networks changes. It introduces new challenges, and new truely exciting opportunities. It is not easy for authors to make everyone happy;-- this is especially so in a new field,--one which has grabbed headlines, and one which is at the same time interdisiplinary. In this case, the authors succeed as well as anyone, I believe.-- This lovely book covers several of the appropriate areas of physics (quantum theory, (some) experiment...), of computer science (the mathematical side of the subject), and of math (operators in Hilbert space, and the theory of algorithms);-- each member of the particular scientific specialty has very definite ideas of his/her own subject,-- and that of the others. Nonetheless, in this readers opinion, the two authors did a great job;-- they explain math to the physics community,-- and they sucessfully teach quantum theory and theoretical CS to mathematicians. The book is suitable for grad students: has lots of great exercises, but it could perhaps have used some more worked examples. (Fortunately they can be found in other books on quantum computation.) The Nielsen-Chuang book is most certainly a great entry for students into this exciting new subject. There are other books,-- but they, for the most part, take a more narrow view. The material in Nielsen-Chuang is timeless,-- and I expect the book will also be popular ten years from now.
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71 of 88 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for reference, poor for teaching,self-study, October 20, 2001
By 
Dr. Julian Miller (School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information (Cambridge Series on Information and the Natural Sciences) (Paperback)
I am actually teaching a course involving Quantum Computing. I am using this book because it is better than other books I have seen. However that still doesn't mean this is a good book!
I have a BSc in Physics and a PhD in mathematics and I work in a Computer Science Department so one would expect that it would be relatively easy to follow this text. However often nothing could be further from the truth! The book appears to be VERY hastily written with certian passages being absolutely impregnable to understanding. The authors often appear to have forgotten to define all their terms, so some arguments are as difficult to decipher as the Rosetta Stone. I give an example: page 226 equation 5.36 they define a unitary transformation U|y> -> |xy(modN)>. They talk about y and its relation to N (I presume that x and N are integers) but NOWHERE do they define what values x can take. So in principle x could be bigger than N. it is easy to demonstrate that some values of x give an operator that is not unitary. This isn't allowed so therefore it implies that x has some restrictions placed upon it. WHAT ARE THOSE RESTRICIONS? WHY DO THE AUTHORS NOT STATE THEM?
The above example is just an illustration of the main fault of the book: Extremely sloppy definitions of many things (or absent definitions). They cultivate an air of rigour but it is all a sham.
Verdict: Be prepared to spend a phenomenal amount of time on this book if you are going to use it for teaching. You will have to fill in many gaps and consult many research papers to make sense of it. BTW: there are no worked examples and exercises that often are incredibly difficult (presumably because the authors have omitted many definitions)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that repays study, December 18, 2007
By 
Stephen K. Parrott (Gardnerville, NV USA) - See all my reviews
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My first acquaintance with this book came from a copy which I ordered through interlibrary loan after seeing favorable comments on the internet. The loan period was only two weeks, so I wasn't able to study this 600-page book in detail. But I learned quite a bit just by skimming it. After I saw that it was a book that would repay study, I purchased it.

The first chapter of 58 pages nicely introduces many of the important ideas, leaving the more difficult details to later chapters. For example, I learned about quantum teleportation, which I had never understood from popular accounts.

I read it from cover to cover and was able to follow almost all of it in detail. Since I read it as someone learning this material for the first time, I'll review it from a student's perspective. A much longer review discussing technical issues is available on my web site.

Chapter 2 gives a nice summary of basic quantum mechanics. It includes an introduction to necessary concepts from abstract linear algebra, including important specific applications (e.g., the Schmidt decomposition) which are not likely to be covered even in advanced linear algebra courses.

The third chapter gives an introduction to computer science concepts.
This gives a conceptual framework within which to present the ideas of quantum computation. More material is included here than is necessary to understand the rest of the book. Readers may find it efficient to skim this chapter initially and return for more detail when necessary.

The next three chapters present the essentials of quantum circuits, the quantum Fourier transform, and quantum search algorithms. Here there is perhaps room for a little improvement. I thought that important details were sometimes omitted from the exposition, and I occasionally had to go to the original literature to understand the ideas.

Also, there is a bad misuse of the "Big-O" notation throughout these
chapters, startling in a book so generally carefully written. Sophisticated readers will take this in stride, but it might demoralize beginners. For details, see the longer review on my web site.

The mathematics of quantum computation is easy compared to the problems of physically realizing it. Chapter 7 gives an extensive discussion of these problems and various proposals for overcoming them. This concludes the "quantum computation" section of the book, which is a little more than half of the 600-odd pages.

The rest deals with quantum information theory. This is presented in less detail than the quantum computation chapters, and demands more from the reader. A summary of classical information theory is included, with sketches of proofs of important results. I found this very helpful in refreshing my memory of Khinchin's book on information theory, which I read decades ago.

Some of the more complicated proofs are only sketched. I didn't get as much from the quantum information section of the book as from the quantum computation section. I think it gives a useful overview of the field, but if I wanted to learn quantum information in detail, I would look for a book dedicated to this topic, perhaps reading Nielsen/Chuang first as an introduction.

The book concludes with a 12-page introduction to quantum cryptography.
I couldn't follow this section in detail. Perhaps it could be followed with enough work, but I wasn't motivated. I imagine that a proper treatment of cryptography would require many more than 12 pages. Again, if I wanted to learn this material, I would seek an expository text dedicated to it.

In summary, this is an exceptionally fine text which can be read on many levels. The 58-page overview of quantum computation should be comprehensible to anyone familiar with the basic ideas of quantum mechanics. The rest of the book may possibly be readable with great effort by well-prepared undergraduates, but I think a graduate-level
background in quantum mechanics and linear algebra would be more realistic prerequisites, and also more efficient. These prerequites will have to be mastered anyway for anyone who wants to work in a field dependent on quantum theory. Those who lack the prerequisites may still be able to get a feel for the problems of quantum computation and information from the book, even if the details seem too difficult.

Although this is a serious book suitable for obtaining a professional knowledge of its subjects, it is unusually carefully written in an expository style. There are many exercises interspersed with the exposition, but no solutions are provided. Most of them should be solvable on sight by anyone following the presentation, so they provide
a useful check on one's understanding of the material. (I am a professional mathematician; students may find the exercises less easy.)

Each chapter ends with "History and further reading'' sections, often extensive. I found these very helpful.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential text, June 16, 2005
By 
A. Shiekh (Grand Junction, CO, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information (Cambridge Series on Information and the Natural Sciences) (Paperback)
Despite its age, I keep coming back to this text for the careful prose and knowledgeable authors; so much so that I am ordering the hardback edition, having worn out the binding of the paperback edition. It is both a book to learn from and one to refer to later. It will eventually be outdated, but I don't see this as having happened yet. Although a large book, it is not bulked out like some, containing a lot of useful and relevant material. Perhaps not the text for those setting out from a 'cold start', but then a great follow up to 'The Quest for Quantum Computing" by Julian Brown. Not overtly rigorous, which is to its credit, as the concepts remain clear as a result. Certainly an essential text, where the prose does not get in the way. A very readable book about a very exciting subject, that is sure to deliver to the determined reader.
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28 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could be better, June 11, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information (Cambridge Series on Information and the Natural Sciences) (Paperback)
This book has a lot of potential, but unfortunately many passages are very unclear and appear hastily written. This isn't a surprise since apparently one of the authors of the book obtained his Ph.D. immediately before the book was written. Also background material and definitions are put together poorly, so its unlikely one could use this book in a self-contained fashion. For example the definition of big-o notation is really poor, and seems like the authors scribbled it on a piece of paper in a hurry and then typed it in their manuscript. After this lousy definition there are problems asking you to show this or that is big-o of such and such but there are no examples showing you how to do this beforehand. Engineers and computer scientists will probably have to go elsewhere for background in quantum mechanics while physicists will have to look elsewhere for background in theoretical computer science. The book contains tons of exercises (upwards of 70 or so in a chapter), but no solutions or examples.
Many discussions are simply unclear. A reader might compare Preskills online notes for better thought out explanations.
I think that the overall organization of the book could serve as a basis of a more in depth and better thought out rewrite. I would suggest cutting back significantly on the number of exercises and providing examples and at least some solutions of the problems. If the book is going to put in background material, it should be more in depth and instructive. Provide a detailed example on how to perform a certain type of calculation or analysis before throwing a bunch of exercises at the reader.
The tone of the book should also be modified somewhat. Yes, the field is exciting but they overdo it with explanation points after too many sentences.
The book is currently enjoying a high position since this is a new field and there isn't much competition. But my bet is that in the next few years better books will hit the scene.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An organized representation of the field., February 16, 2002
By 
Mosta McKracken (Cambridge, MA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information (Cambridge Series on Information and the Natural Sciences) (Paperback)
This is a good book. It's not a great book because the authors try to aim it at everybody at once (computer scientists, mathematicians, and physicists), which makes it lacking in cohesiveness very much. Other than that, its a very good reference for every time you're reading a paper and stumble across something. It can be used for self-study but with some pain. I would suggest that, if you're only interested in the CS aspects of quatum computing, that you get the book 'Introduction to quantum algorithms' along with a good linear algebra book ( a lot come to mind so i cant list here w/out being unfair). That should do the trick without going through a lot of stuff that's in this book.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Qubits away!, November 28, 2000
By 
Groobert (Cambridge, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information (Cambridge Series on Information and the Natural Sciences) (Paperback)
This is a terrific book. The first truly comprehensive, in-depth and fully integrated textbook on the recent surge of ideas at the interface of physics, computer science and information theory. Concepts are lovingly developed and presented in their most essential and unencumbered forms, the prose is sparkingly clear and there are enough exercises, at all levels, to keep even researchers in the field busy. Most importantly, perhaps, it brilliantly manages to convey all the excitement of a field still very much in its infancy. Read it, and hop on!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The standard text on QC! Helped me get a Ph.D!, December 16, 2013
By 
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This review is from: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information (Cambridge Series on Information and the Natural Sciences) (Paperback)
I won't go lengthy here since everyone who is interested in QC will end up buying this book. There are many *other* good books but this is the de-facto standard. It has some wonderful commentary and is very well written. This is not an easy topic and it felt like there was a significant amount of fundamental knowledge that could have been covered and many "quantum leaps" are made. IN some cases, it is left to the reader to understand what is, in fact, not-so-easy concepts that I thought could have used at least a simple example. There are some deep diving points and the math can get daunting. There is a bit of "collection of published papers" but also it's obvious the authors are using material from how it is taught in class through logical steps. I used this text heavily while writing up my Ph.D dissertation in QC. I give it 4 stars because it is the standard, and a break-through text on QC, but it needed to take less deep-dives into niche areas and spend more time in explaining the more difficult fundamentals of QC.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Follow on from previous review, July 28, 2004
This review is from: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information (Cambridge Series on Information and the Natural Sciences) (Paperback)
Despite one reader's view. I am not an idiot. I agree that on page 226 the majority of the relevant definitions are present. So to some extent I stand corrected. The review I wrote was written while I was intensively studying the book in preparation for teaching a course involving quantum computation. I found the informal mix of discussion in the text and formal statements unclear at times. I would have preferrred informal discussion accompanied by highly formal statements (a la a mathematics text) of theorems etc. Then one wouldn't have to scan pages of text to find all the relevant definitions.

To come back to page 226. To make the definitions really water-tight one needs to say:

0 gte xy(modN) lte N-1

(lte and gte means less than or equal to and greater than or equal to respectively)

This is because

xy (mod N) = Nk + xy where k is any integer. However ket(z) where z gte N makes no physical sense.

This illustrates the subtle difference between mathematics and physics. Physics requires many restrictions (e.g. that physical variables are real valued) that mathematics doesn't require.

Note I have with hindsight and using the book over several years raised my star rating for the book to 4. I do not think books should be given 5 star rating just because they are the best currently written on the subject. For me the star rating is an absolute scale.

I would recommend the author's adopt the convention of collecting all definitions and theorems in boxes (so the busy reader can look there for the formal stuff) and not have to scan through lots of informal discussion to find all the definitions.

My apologies for incorrectness but I did find the book very difficult (and all my students did too) on first reading. It took me a long time of figuring things out to realise "Ah. That's what they meant"!

I think if readers accuse people of being idiots the least they can do is provide their name!
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