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I'm reading quite a bit about quantum computing, especially optical quantum computing. Part of the problem is even the all-encompassing bible of quantum computing (Nielsen and Chuang, Quantum Computing and Quantum Computation) has only 10 pages on this particular physical realization. Other textbooks, by the time they're published, are already out of date. Hello, reading scientific papers!

Of course, there's a problem associated with that - results are retracted, new ones encompass and expand upon old, and papers are rather notorious for being difficult to slog through. Having slogged through a few myself, I can tell you that notoriety is well-deserved. Worse (for the self-learner), most papers are focused on only a specific problem.

All this isn't to say that papers are bad, just that sometimes other materials can be nice, and learning from just papers is difficult.

How can one find materials other than papers to learn from in a developing field?

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  • $\begingroup$ Richard Feynman said that he could learn something new even from a lecture on basic Physics. It is usually fruitful to occasionally re-explore the origins and fundamentals of a field. The original framework you had might just expand and become more clear after learning lots of new stuff. I call this an "Organizing Impulse", similar to what happened to Blaise Pascal and other famous people at crucial points. $\endgroup$ – user737 Jul 15 '17 at 15:20
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I find conferences are good for learning in new fields. Most of them cater to academics but many industry researchers present at them as well. For example Microsoft Research sends people to a lot of mostly academic conferences. ACM and IEEE Computer Society both have conferences. Besides the papers that are presented, often including more material and details than the written papers, there is the opportunity to discuss recent developments with practitioners.

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