As suggested by @PiotrMigdal I am putting a separate question regarding the title mentioned above.

I am a Mathematics PhD student doing work in functional analysis / operator theory aspects of quantum information. My basic training (up to masters) is in so called 'Pure Mathematics' ($C^*$ algebra, representation theory, elliptic curve etc.). I am about to complete my PhD and applying for post doctoral positions. It seems most of the jobs in this area are for experimentalists and a few for theorists. I do not have much knowledge about experiment. Moreover, my understanding about quantum measurements as very basic. These can be considered as negative points. Positive sides: I have a few published papers in some reputed physics journal, a few (in discrete mathematics) preprints, and a few works in the draft stage. However the published papers are not reviewed by math. review.

My question is, what a mathematics student, like me, should focus/emphasise if he/she go for a job (for me post doctoral) interview in front of physics faculties.

Also more general question can be regarding the job perspective of mathematics students in quantum information. Advanced thanks for any suggestion, answer etc. Feel free to edit and/or retag it, if you think it is necessary.

  • Thanks to both Noah Snyder and Piotr Migdal. I hope some more users can also help me as well as the community sharing his/her views. – RSG Jan 7 '13 at 8:59

It may be too late for this, but I'd suggest giving a talk for physicists in a lower stakes setting (eg a seminar at a school that isn't interviewing you). Physicists often have different names for things and ways of talking about them, and it can be really nice to have some exposure to the kinds of questions you might get asked.

  • 3
    "Physicists often have different names for things..." this applies (obviously) not only to the case under consideration, but also to any interdisciplinary subject that can be approached from two different directions. – Willie Wong Jan 3 '13 at 14:26
  • indeed so.. though not that much in quantum mechanics, but i had to spend a lot of time to understand the daily techniques of physicists, mathematically (C* alg or measure theory point of view) and yet to sufficiently understand many things – RSG Jan 7 '13 at 9:05

A lot of quantum information is a part of mathematics (that is, mathematically well-defined concepts, proper proofs, etc...), with some physical motivation. Many problems can be stated easily as mathematical ones, without providing and physical grounding.

So if you are a pure maths PhD, then it may be actually beneficial for you, as you: can prove (not only hand-wave) and perhaps have better training (and motivation) in Hilbert spaces, group theory, discrete mathematics, abstract algebra, convex geometry, algorithmic complexity, information theory etc...

Surely, different groups have different tastes for different problems, different emphasis on physical, mathematical, numerical and experimental content. Just ask them; if it is pure quantum information then maybe even you can go without knowing quantum mechanics (which is worth learning anyway, BTW).

Source: I am PhD student in geometry of quantum states; a considerable fraction of people working on that topic are mathematicians.


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