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Quantum Computing


Admission requirements

In order to be able follow the course, familiarity with complex numbers and linear algebra is necessary and sufficient.


It is known that quantum computers (when they become available) will greatly outperform classical computers on certain computational problems. The most prominent example is Shor's quantum algorithm for factoring integers, which threatens most of the cryptography in use. In this course, we give an introduction to quantum computing and to the mathematics behind. In the first part of the course, the basic mathematical theory for describing "quantum information" and studying its behavior is introduced. The second part briefly addresses the basic theory of quantum computation, like how to formalize what a quantum algorithm is and how to measure its complexity, but then the main goal is to introduce and analyze various quantum algorithms, and to understand (to some extent) their "common denominator". The algorithms discussed range from the early simple examples by Deutsch etc., but also include the more sophisticated algorithms that are relevant for the design of the next generation of cryptographic schemes, like Grover's and Shor's algorithm. On the way, it will be necessary to briefly look into representation theory of finite groups and into the theory of continued fractions.
The course consists of regular lecturers in which we look at Quantum Computing through the eyes of a computer scientist. This means that after the presentation of some necessary basic knowledge, several topics are addressed like architecture, algorithms, programming languages, cryptography, and hardware. This results in knowledge of an exiting research field, of which it is clear that despite the progress made, many hurdles still have to be taken.

Course objectives

The objectives of this course are to understand the state vector formalism of quantum information science, and to understand how (and why) the most prominent quantum algorithms work.


The most recent timetable can be found at the Computer Science (MSc) student website.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Video lectures and assignments.

Assessment method

Written exam to be provided online.

Reading List


  • Eleanor Rieffel and Wolfgang Polak, Quantum Computing, the MIT Press, 2011, isbn 978-0-262-01506-6

  • Michael A. Nielsen and Isaac L. Chung, Quantum Computing and Quantum Information, reprinted 2012, Cambridge University Press, isbn 978-1-10700-217-3

  • Quantum Computer Science: An Introduction” by David N. Mermin, 2007, Cambridge University Press.

  • Adiabatic Quantum Computation and Quantum Annealing: Theory and Practice, by Catherine C. McGeoch

  • Handouts


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Lecturer: F. Neukart