Quantum Information (QI) Graduate Program PhD seminar requirements

The QI Graduate Program seminar requirements for PhD students are as follows: 

  1. All PhD students in the QI program are required to present two seminars on quantum information topics:

    1. one seminar targeted to an audience of quantum information specialists (generally members of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC)); and

    2. one seminar targeted toward an audience of non-specialists in quantum information (generally the members of the student’s home unit).

  2. Each seminar must be approved by a QI supervisor, who is asked to provide the student with feedback on the seminar. Each seminar must be a full-length, research-level seminar (normally 45 minutes or more and targeted at an audience of researchers). 

Note that some departments have seminar requirements of their own, and PhD students enrolled in the QI program are also required to meet these department-specific requirements. It is permitted that a seminar may be used to simultaneously fulfill one of the QI program seminar requirements above and a department-specific requirement, provided that the seminar independently meets the conditions of each requirement.

A PhD Seminar Requirement form may be obtained from the Quantum Information Graduate Program Coordinator (hereafter called the QI Grad Coordinator for short). For each seminar, the appropriate part of this form is to be filled out and signed by the QI supervisor that approves the seminar.

QI supervisors include all regular IQC faculty members and some research professors and associate faculty members of IQC. (If a student is uncertain whether a particular faculty member holds this designation, the QI Grad Coordinator may be consulted.) A QI supervisor does not need to be a student’s designated supervisor in order to approve a seminar, and it is not necessary that the same QI supervisor approves both seminars. 

Guiding principles 

The principle behind the QI program PhD seminar requirements is that it is a critically important skill for a scientist/engineer to be able to communicate their work to other scientists or engineers, including researchers working on closely related topics as well as members of a broader research community. In particular, the seminar targeted toward an audience of non-specialists in quantum information is intended to help students to develop the ability to communicate their work on quantum information to researchers outside of the field. 

Completing the seminar aimed at QI specialists 

  • The seminar aimed at QI specialists will normally be given at IQC. There are two natural ways to arrange for such a seminar: one is to give a seminar as part of a regularly held seminar series (if there is such a series where your seminar would fit), and the other is to independently schedule your own seminar.

  • If you give a seminar as a part of a regular seminar series, you should arrange for this through the individual in charge of that seminar series.

  • To independently schedule your own seminar to be held at IQC, please contact the QI Grad Coordinator, who will book a room for your seminar at a time of your choice (provided there is a suitable room available).

  • Once your seminar is scheduled, prepare a title and abstract for your seminar, and send it to the QI Grad Coordinator along with the time, date and location of your seminar. The QI Grad Coordinator will then see that this information is posted to the IQC weekly announcements. Please do this at least 14 days prior to your seminar.

  • Please note that it is your responsibility to obtain the approval of a QI supervisor, generally by requesting that the QI supervisor attends the seminar. This is not something that the QI Grad Coordinator or another staff member will be able to do for students.

  • If you wish to use the seminar aimed at QI specialists to simultaneously fulfill a department-specific seminar requirement, please be sure to also follow the procedures your department has put in place. (If you are uncertain about these procedures, contact the Graduate Program Coordinator or Graduate Secretary in your own department.) 

Completing the seminar aimed at non-specialists 

  • The seminar aimed at a non-specialist audience will normally be given in your home department. Again there are two natural ways to arrange for such a seminar: to give a seminar as part of a regularly held seminar series, and to independently schedule your own seminar. (See also the third alternative described below.)

  • If you give a seminar as a part of a regular seminar series, you should again arrange for this through the individual in charge of that seminar series.

  • To independently schedule your own seminar to be held in your home department, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator or Graduate Secretary in your department for assistance in booking a room.

  • A third alternative is to arrange for a seminar to take place at IQC, and to “invite” members of your home department to attend. If you wish to pursue this option, please schedule the seminar and book a room with the help of the QI Grad Coordinator.

  • Once your seminar is scheduled, prepare a title and abstract for your seminar, and send it (along with the date, time, and location) to the Graduate Program Coordinator or Graduate Secretary in your own department, so that it can be distributed to the members of your department. Please do this at least 14 days prior to your seminar.

  • If you would also like your seminar to appear on the weekly IQC announcements, please send your title, abstract, and other seminar details to the QI Grad Coordinator at at least 14 days prior to your seminar.

  • Once again, note that it is your responsibility to obtain the approval of a QI supervisor, generally by requesting that the QI supervisor attends the seminar.

  • If you wish to use the seminar aimed at non-specialists to simultaneously fulfill a department-specific seminar requirement, again please be sure to also follow any procedures concerning seminars that your department has put in place. 

Additional remarks and suggestions 

  • Try to make your seminars, as well as your abstracts, accessible to the intended audience. It can sometimes be difficult to engage a non-specialist audience, and it may even be a challenge to get them to attend your seminar in the first place! Take it as a challenge to reach out to your home department, and give your best effort to communicate with them. (Including a phrase such as “no prior background in quantum information is assumed” in your abstract may help.) If it turns out that you have a tiny audience, or something that feels more like a “mock seminar” than the real thing, it can still be a valuable learning experience.

  • In special circumstances, it may be deemed that one of the seminar requirements has been or can be fulfilled by one or more seminars that deviate from the specifications above (such as a seminar or colloquium given at another university). Such seminars must satisfy the intentions of the requirements (i.e., correspond to full-length research seminars presented either to an audience of QI specialists or non-specialists), with the determination being left to the discretion of the QI supervisor that approves the seminar. You may also speak to the QI Program Director if you wish to pursue this possibility.

  • Some examples of presentations that may not be used to fulfill the PhD seminar requirements of the QI program are the weekly 30-minute student presentations at IQC (because they are not full-length seminars) and presentations to a general public or undergraduate audience, such as Phys 10 seminars (because they are not considered research-level seminars). It is not the intention of the seminar requirements to discourage such presentations, but the requirement itself is focused more specifically on full-length, research-level presentations (i.e., the sort of presentation that would be expected of a visiting researcher or a candidate for a research position, such as a faculty or postdoctoral fellow candidate).

  • The seminar requirement does not place restrictions on the actual content of the seminars beyond the requirement that they are both on quantum information topics. For example, the two seminars do not necessarily need to have completely disjoint content: they might potentially have some overlap in material, with each one being presented in a way specific to the target audience. It is both typical and encouraged that students present their own research findings in their seminars, but this does not need to be the unique focus of the seminars; it may, for instance, be appropriate for these seminars to include a significant amount of background information, a survey of a particular topic, or a discussion of research findings by other individuals or groups. 

Educational programs

QKD - Quantum Key Distribution Summer School

USEQIP - Undergraduate School on Experimental Quantum Information Processing

QCSYS - Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students

Quantum Innovators logo