CCST9077 Science, Technology and Big Data
The Quantum Revolution: From Secret Codes to Black Holes

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • The Quest for a Meaningful Life / The Universe and the Question of Meaning (UQM)

Course Description

We live in the age of information. But do you really know what information is, at its most fundamental level? Do you know what role information plays in the fundamental laws of nature? Have you ever thought that the world around us, from tiny particles to enormous galaxies, could be made of information? This course explores the fascinating interplay between information and fundamental physics, making connections with everyday life, art, literature, and popular culture. We will learn about a new type of information, called quantum information, which arises in the world of elementary particles, and promises to have huge impact on society and everyday life. We will see that fundamental questions about quantum information and the nature of reality have led to the invention of powerful new technologies, such as secret communication systems that cannot be decrypted by any hacker, and ultrapowerful computers that will overcome today’s best supercomputers. Finally, we will explore how quantum information is changing our view of the universe, transforming our notions of space, time, cause and effect. Do not worry: the course will not use any equations or any physics knowledge. All the ideas will be explained in simple, friendly terms that can be grasped by students of all majors.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Be familiar with basic notions pertaining to information science.
  2. Understand the impact of quantum technologies in society.
  3. Articulate the philosophical implications of quantum information and computation for the nature of reality.
  4. Be able to illustrate how fundamental questions on the nature of reality can lead to disruptive new technologies.
  5. Be able to engage in science popularisation activities.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 9
Reading / Self-study 65
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 30
Assessment: Quizzes 2
Total: 130

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Mid-term essay 20
Quizzes 30
Class participation 10
Final project 40

Required Reading

  • Aaronson, S. (2013). Quantum Computing since Democritus. [pp. 1-7]
  • Rovelli, C. (2017). The Order of Time. [Chaps. 3, 8]

Required Viewing 

  • Aaronson, S. (2017). What quantum computing isn’t.
  • Ekert, A. (2015). Quantum cryptography: the ultimate physical limits of privacy.
  • Feynman, R. (1964). On scientific method.
  • Lloyd, S. (2018). Is information the foundation of reality?
  • Rovelli, C. (2020). The nature of time.
  • Vedral, V. (2010). Everything is information.
  • Wehner, S. (2017). The quantum internet.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor G. Chiribella
Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering
Tel: 2859 2193
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor G. Chiribella
Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering
Tel: 2859 2193
Dr R. Ramanathan
Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering
Tel: 2859 2350
Dr Y. Yang
Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering
Tel: 2241 5778