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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
 
  Jul 25, 2024
 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Physics and Quantum Computing, BS


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Given the robust academic efforts to build quantum machines, as well as the growing industrial efforts in quantum information (Google, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Northrup Grumman, Intel, Honeywell, plus numerous smaller companies and startups) there is a real need for students who are trained to live with one foot on either side of the present divide. Put another way, we can build systems with one to a few elements, and we know important problems we could solve with a quantum computer containing thousands or millions of qubits, but how do we get from one to the other? It is clear that students who can address this issue will find good opportunities to apply their skills in both academia and industry.

The Physics and Quantum Computing, BS major will train the students who will bridge this gap as they flesh out a nascent quantum computing industry. For the student who wishes to pursue graduate school (which is currently the level at which most industrial labs are hiring) where hybrid programs do not currently exist, the major is designed with an optional CS or physics ‘Focus’ add-on of three top-level classes to fill in classes required for entry into the respective graduate programs.

At a more practical level, for those students who seek gainful employment with only their undergraduate degrees, the mixing of physics’ focus on investigation and problem solving with true fluency in computer science will provide a very strong toolbox for their future endeavors. Compared to a traditional physics major, our graduates would have computer skills to make them a less training-intensive hire; compared to a traditional CS major our graduates would have facility with physics concepts and problem solving techniques, both classical and quantum.

As currently designed the major requires 73 credits. The optional CS or Physics ‘Focus’ would boost the credit total to 82.

Program Requirements


Capstone Research or Project or Internship (3 credits)


All majors must complete a capstone experience prior to graduation. It is the intention that this mirror the format of the CS capstone project (physics lacks an equivalent, though directed research is common among physics undergraduates). The requirement can be satisfied by one semester of directed research with a physics or CS faculty member, or a CS Capstone Project (CS 1980, CS 1981). Alternately, students may instead undertake an internship (for CS this requires registration in CS 1900). There are growing opportunities for QC-specific undergraduate fellowships that may be of interest to majors, see for example: https://www.ibm.com/quantumcomputing/internship/ and the various programs linked there.

OPTIONAL Focus in Computer Science or Physics (9 credits)


This group of courses is designed to prepare interested students for graduate studies in CS or Physics, and can also allow for the addition of specialized special topic or elective courses to the major given adequate enrollment and departmental resources. Currently the courses for the focus options are:

Total Credits: 73 or 82


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