How to Really Learn Something
There’s this really nice video on the Veritasium Youtube channel that talks about the effectiveness of science videos when it comes to truly learning about a subject.
The video makes the point that just because a topic is really well explained and broken down to you it doesn’t mean you are going to learn.
Quantum Computing is a great example of a topic that’s famously hard to get into just because its fundamental ideas often go against our common intuition. So what’s the best way to learn more about the subject?
There’s been some interesting experiments out there. One that’s particularly caught my attention is Quantum Country. The page claims that the new mnemonic medium used in the site makes it almost effortless to remember what you read. It’s a project by Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen. I haven’t fully committed to try it out, though, because it still resorts to the geometrical interpretation of Grover’s algorithm that you can find everywhere.
A Word about Learning Platforms
Curated content has definitely it’s value and as I already mentioned in this previous article I am quite sure an integrated approach is really targeted at maximizing learning opportunities. I have found some great examples of this:
Another great example is OReilly’s Programming Quantum Computers book which comes with access to an online tool with a fully functional language to play around the different exercises and examples presented in the book.
The Importance of Practice and Mental Exercising
I personally love Jupyter Notebooks. Nevertheless, they are a dangerous tool as well. It’s so simple to organize tutorials around them. They are so easy to make them look professional and practical. Jupyter Notebooks are really smooth to go through but the truth is that they do not necessarily help you learn.
A great example is Qiskit’s Textbook (Video).
The content of the textbook is really cool and IBM is doing a great job by continuously improving it. Some of the chapters come with exercises and I think there should be more of them! While it’s easy to click through an interactive notebook, you won’t truly learn something unless you put your brain to work on a problem it’s never seen before. It doesn’t matter how simple the exercise is. In other words, challenging yourself with the exercises is priceless!
From my perspective this is the ultimate way of learning regardless of how you prefer to ingest any other type of material such as the presented above. A well balanced workout plan is the way to go. The same as with physical exercise: This is when progress crystallizes.