Quantum computing has become a popular buzzword of the IT industry. The Indian government has plans to invest ₹8,000 crores ($1.12 billion) in quantum computing research over the next five years. Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister, said the investment will boost the research for this technology under the National Mission of Quantum Technology and Application project. In fact, across the globe, countries are investing heavily in research in this area.
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Hence, let’s begin by understanding what is Quantum Computing?
A quantum computer is a machine that harnesses some of the unique properties of quantum physics to solve problems that are too complex for regular computers and even supercomputers. The field of quantum computing focuses on developing technology that takes advantage of the ways in which energy and matter behave at the sub-atomic level. The concept of quantum computing is a relatively new one and has, until recently, been a largely theoretical field.
How Do Quantum Computers Work?
Regular computers carry out logical operations using the definite position of a physical state. These are usually binary, meaning its operations are based on one of two positions – 0s or 1s. However, quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits instead of the simple manipulation of ones and zeros. Qubits, or quantum bits, are a unit of quantum information and a two-state quantum-mechanical system. Hence, quantum computers use ones and zeros, and the qubits have a third state titled ‘superposition’ that permits them to represent both a one and a zero at the same time. This gives them the potential to process exponentially more data compared to classical computers.
Why is quantum computing important?
Quantum technology is seen as the next step to make computers both faster and smarter. It is already laying the foundation for unbreakable codes. It is enabling computers to crunch numbers at an incredible rate. Such functionalities are needed to support the deployment of new-age technologies at a larger scale. This is not all, quantum technology can spur new breakthroughs in science, which in turn can enable various industries such as manufacturing, banking, and defence and security.
Let’s look at how quantum computing is transforming various industries:
Manufacturing – The internal processes of the manufacturing industry are extremely complicated, often testing the limits of advanced analytics. Quantum computing, combined with machine learning, can enable production lines to perform optimisations more systematically and dynamically. This is useful for production flows and robotics scheduling of complex products, wherein simulation and optimisation are computer-intensive.
Banking – Quantum Computing makes banking highly secure and efficient as it applies the laws of quantum physics to data protection. It uses particles called quantum bits or qubits, which are photons of light, for transmission of data along optical cables to represent multiple combinations of 1 and 0 simultaneously. If anyone tries to intercept such quantum data in transit, the qubits change their state making the technology particularly useful for transactional and financial data.
Defence and Security – Technologies such as AI and quantum computing are changing the course of combat and warfare. Countries across the globe are trying to leverage the untapped potential of these new-age technologies in the domains of command and control by incorporating them into drones, ground vehicles, fighter aircraft, and naval vessels. By allowing the defence forces to solve multiple problems simultaneously, quantum computing enables tackling of complex situations by providing the best course of action.
The quantum computing ecosystem in India is growing at an accelerated pace with government agencies, service providers, start-ups and academic institutions leading the way forward. As per the IT industry body NASSCOM, the adoption of quantum technologies across industries have the potential to add $280-$310 billion of value to the Indian economy by 2030. However, the real push to this technology’s adoption will come with mass enterprise acceptance. In addition, the growth of cloud hyperscalers are also making quantum technology more accessible on the cloud.