Physics 239/139, Quantum Information is Physical, Spring 2018

Professor: John McGreevy
Office: 5222 Mayer Hall
mcgreevy at
Office Hours: Mondays 2-4, or by appointment.

Homework and solutions
Lecture notes
Announcements Date
Since we were deprived of a lecture by the holiday last week, we'll have an extra lecture next Monday, usual time and place (MHA 5623, 12:30 -- 2). 2018.06.05
Please submit an evaluation for our course. Here is the link. 2018.06.04
For those of you with limited prior experience with quantum mechanics, I've written a bonus problem set (problem set 1.5) to help you catch up. 2018.04.03
A number of students have asked about whether there is a quantum mechanics prerequisite for the course. Although there is no official prerequisite, I have to emphasize up front that it will be a big and interesting challenge to keep up with this course without having taken at least the upper-division (130) sequence. Those of you who haven't should make sure to come talk to me privately (send me email or try to catch me in my office any afternoon).

Having given this warning, here is some advice for how to do so. Option one is to study Chapter 1 of these notes. This gives an introduction to quantum mechanics which bypasses the complications of infinite-dimensional hilbert spaces and differential equations. A second option is to study the textbook by Schumacher and Westmoreland (available from the UCSD library here), in particular chapters 1-8.

Physics 239/139, Spring 2018: Quantum Information is Physical. The subject of the course is ideas from information theory which have been or may be useful for quantum many body physics.

Here is a slightly longer description of my current plan:

The course will include a primer on Shannon's theory on the compression and transmission of information, and its extensions to quantum systems. Applications to many-body physics incorporate the consequences of locality, which include -- the ubiquitous area law for the entanglement entropy of subsystems in low-energy states, -- constraints on the dynamics of quantum field theories, and -- the ideas about tensor networks which underlie state-of-the-art numerical methods. The final section of the course will explore the deep connections between fault-tolerant quantum computers and highly-entangled (spin liquid) phases of matter.

The target audience includes students working on high energy physics, condensed matter physics (soft and hard) and astrophysics, both theorists and experimenters, as well as ambitious undergrads with some familiarity with quantum mechanics.

The website for a previous incarnation of the course is here.


Text: My lecture notes. More suggested reading material can be found therein.

Lecture: MW 12:30-1:50pm, in Mayer Hall Addition 5623.