Esther Wu recently made her first foray into quantum computing but her work is already contributing to the improvement of the functionality of computer systems.
The Year 12 student has just completed “Qubit by Quibit’s Introduction to Quantum Computing”, an eight-month-long online course taught by quantum researchers from MIT and Oxford University. As part of the course, high school students utilise IBM Quantum, through which they create circuits and undertake programming, and their work is sent to real quantum processors at IBM!
Esther said it was exciting to come to grips with processes that have wide-ranging and tangible benefits for many aspects of modern life, including finance, healthcare and online security.
“During the first semester, we focused on Python programming and maths, including complex numbers, vectors and matrices,” she said.
“In the second semester, we learned quantum physics and computing. Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics that deals with how the universe works on a subatomic scale. Stemming from this, quantum computing is all about using quantum mechanics to improve our computers.”
Esther said she enjoyed the way the course connected the theoretical and the physical.
“There was a distinct moment where everything just ‘clicked’ into place in my head!” she said.
“A topic I particularly loved learning about was quantum teleportation. In simple terms, it’s about how you can link two quantum particles, or ‘qubits’, together, which is called ‘entanglement’. Once the qubits are entangled, you can send information from one to the other. What’s really exciting is that it doesn’t matter if the particles are right next to each other or at opposite ends of the universe – the information transfers instantly, hence the name ‘teleportation’.”
Esther, who had no experience with quantum computing prior to signing up for the course, said she now understands the importance this branch of science.
“Already, a quantum computer can do a calculation in a few seconds that solves a problem that would take a supercomputer millions of years to solve!” Esther said.
Esther is planning a career in engineering following the HSC and has a special interest in computer science and mechatronics (a combination of robotics, mechanics and electronics). She loves all things STEM and said giving students access to courses such as the one she undertook will equip them well for the future.