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Durham University

Department of Physics

News

Headlines

How we can achieve 'Quantum Literacy' by playing videogames

(22 January 2020)

Quantum computing is expected to have far-reaching benefits as well as potential security concerns for a wide range of industries in coming years. At present, there is little understanding of, or expertise in, the skills required for effective quantum computational reasoning outside small numbers of specialists in physics and mathematics that also studied quantum computing. This is the challenge that a Durham University PhD student, Laurentiu Nita is building a company to address (on Twitter: https://twitter.com/QuarksInteract1) . The company is looking at developing a more effective way for quantum non-specialists across diverse industries to develop intuition about quantum mechanics. With the increased number of quantum technologies being made available, it now becomes crucial for the new generation of learners and -just as well - established businesses to understand the implications of quantum computing for their own context and to stay ahead of the game as quantum computing advances. Additionally, management and government will increasingly be expected to make decisions related to quantum computing and will have to become quantum literate to avoid falling victim to misconceptions and hype. 

High levels of quantum literacy will enable citizens from a wide variety of backgrounds to bring the potential benefits of exponentially faster and more complex data processing to their own businesses, industries and disciplines, enabling them to re-imagine the possibilities for data analysis and problem solving in their fields. At present, a relatively small number of quantum computing experts have this knowledge and understanding. The benefit of a broader range of citizens being able to access this understanding than is currently possible when quantum computing must be learned through maths and physics, is therefore a wider understanding of the potential applications of quantum computing in diverse areas of society, which currently do not benefit from this technological revolution. Quantum literacy equates to a different way of understanding reality and therefore, a potentially different way of conceiving of problems in a range of diverse fields.

In order to maximize the benefits of quantum computing and to reduce the risks, governments (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/jan/15/how-can-we-compete-with-google-the-battle-to-train-quantum-coders) are now taking action to upskill the current workforce and begin the training of our future programmers and decision makers in the counterintuitive ways of quantum computational thinking. Classical computer programs are not effective for quantum computing. Instead, quantum algorithms must be used which employ quantum phenomena such as superposition of states. Traditionally, understanding of this area has been confined to mathematicians and physicists. But, there is now a need to upskill a non-specialist audience to meet the future programming needs and to start developing the wide range of quantum algorithms that will be needed for programming tasks.

The Durham postgrad leads a company called Quarks Interactive(https://twitter.com/QuarksInteract1) that approaches this challenge by having managed to develop a scientific puzzle tool that shows in real time the evolution of quantum computational states, in order to help the process by which non-specialists in quantum mechanics develop their understanding of quantum computational thinking. The form of abstraction they use, is able to convey the entire range of quantum phenomena, with floating point precision over the dynamics of small universal quantum computation systems . The ultimate aim of creating this new method is to enable citizens to develop an intuitive but still rigorous understanding of universal quantum computing and to provide a facility for non-specialists to discover increasingly complex and new quantum algorithms. Future applications of quantum computing will be in areas in which there is no current expertise or understanding of this field, therefore, involvement of participants from the early stages of development of the tool and the educational framework will maximize the future learning benefits for users as well as lead to an increased number of quantum algorithms being generated. 

The following is a story teaser for the videogame that is currently being developed to teach Quantum Computation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTMYaDbjWIY&feature=emb_title

 

To find out more:

Interview with the Founder of Quarks Interactive: https://quantumzeitgeist.com/from-bits-to-qubits-interview-with-quantum-computing-game-founder/

Quarks Interactive’s mission, detailed: https://quantumzeitgeist.com/quantum-computer-games-to-improve-quantum-science-literacy/