6.050J | Spring 2008 | Undergraduate

Information and Entropy

Unit 13: Quantum Information


  • Notes, Chapter 13: Quantum Information (including detail section by Luis Pérez-Breva) (PDF)
  • Lloyd, Seth. “Quantum-Mechanical Computers.” Scientific American 273 (October 1995): 44–49.
    An early, very readable description of quantum computation.
  • Spiller, T. P. “Quantum Information Processing: Cryptography, Computation, and Teleportation.” Proceedings of the IEEE 84 (December 1996): 1719–1746.
    Although this paper is several years old, it provides an excellent introduction for students.
  • Chuang, Isaac L., et al. “Experimental Realization of a Quantum Algorithm.” Nature 393 (May 14, 1998): 143–146.
  • Lloyd, Seth. “Quantum-mechanical Maxwell’s Demon.” Physical Review A 56 (November 1997): 3374–3382.
    • “The Cost of Forgetting.” The Economist, December 13, 1997.
      A popular summary of this scientific paper.
  • “Quantum Information.” Physics World 11 (March 1998): 35–57.
    Some popular articles covering various aspects of quantum information, including quantum communication, quantum cryptography, quantum computing, and some possible ways of implementing the ideas.
  • Steane, Andrew M., and Wim van Dam. “Physicists Triumph at Guess My Number.” Physics Today 53 (February 2000): 35–39.
    A charming introduction to superdense coding, in which the transmission of a classical bit can convey more than a bit of information if the channel is set up in advance using quantum entanglement.
  • Feynman, Richard P. “Simulating Physics with Computers.” International Journal of Theoretical Physics 21 (1982): 467–488.
    Keynote speech at a conference held at MIT that was one of the first in the newly developing field of quantum information.
  • Kane, Bruce. “Scalable Quantum Computing Using Solid-State Devices.” The Bridge 32 (Winter 2002): 5–8.
    Technologies that might support quantum information processing and scale to a reasonable number of qubits.
  • Hiltzik, Michael. “Harnessing Quantum Bits.” Technology Review 106 (March 2003): 58–63.
    Story about implementations of quantum computers from several laboratories.


  • Final Exam Review





There are already many books and conferences on quantum information, even though the field is new.

  • Lo, Hoi-Kwong, Sandu Popescu, and Tim Spiller. Introduction to Quantum Computation and Information. River Edge, NJ: World Scientific, 1999. ISBN: 9789810233990.
    The book is based on a lecture series held at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Bristol, UK, November 1996 – April, 1997.
  • Nielsen, Michael A., and Isaac L. Chuang. Quantum Computation and Quantum Information. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000. ISBN: 9780521635035.
    This is probably the best of the books intended for scientists and engineers. Chuang, an MIT graduate, is currently on the MIT faculty.
  • Bouwbeester, Dirk, Artur Ekert, and Anton Zeilinger. The Physics of Quantum Information: Quantum Cryptography, Quantum Teleportation, Quantum Computation. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag, 2000. ISBN: 9783540667780.
  • Shapiro, Jeffrey H., and Hirota, Osamu. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Quantum Communication, Measurement, and Computing. Edited by Jeffrey H. Shapiro and Osamu Hirota. Princeton, NJ: Rinton Press, 2003. ISBN: 9781589490307.
  • Johnson, George. A Shortcut through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. ISBN: 9780375411939.
    This book, written by a New York Times science writer, is for the general public and may not be technical enough for some readers.

James Clerk Maxwell opened up the relationship between information and entropy by proposing what is called today Maxwell’s Demon, which would apparently violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Maxwell’s Demon in its many forms has captured the imagination of both scientists and the general public.

  • Brillouin, Leon. Science and Information Theory. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Dover, 2004. ISBN: 9780486439181.
    Topics include Brownian motion, thermal noise, information theory, entropy, and the author’s personal view of Maxwell’s Demon.
  • Leff, Harvey S., and Andrew F. Rex. Maxwell’s Demon: Entropy, Information, Computing. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991. ISBN: 9780691087276.
    General historical discussion with many reprints of original papers but not, regrettably, any of Maxwell’s own publications.
  • von Baeyer, Hans Christian. Maxwell’s Demon. New York, NY: Random House, 1998. ISBN: 9780679433422.
    A very good review for the general public, by a Professor of Physics at the College of William and Mary. This book was written before the quantum version of the demon was understood as well as it is today.
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