What is Quantum Computing?
Quantum Computing, very simplistically, is computing with the hardware, software, and devices that follow the principles of Quantum Physics.
Let’s discuss the basics of Quantum Computing in layman’s terms. Currently, the “bit” in semiconductor technology can hold the state of ‘0’ or ‘1’. But, a quantum bit, or qubit, can take a state of ‘0’ and ‘1’ simultaneously. In current state microprocessor-based computing, states ‘0’ or ‘1’ can be considered to be electronic logic gate managed voltages like, for example, zero (0) volt or five (5) volts. In the case of quantum computing, the state is a probabilistic outcome. The potential outcome of a calculation in a quantum computer is close to the actual result with the highest probability. Ideally, the total number of outcomes of quantum computing through Superposition could be infinite. Quantum Computer needs a low-temperature and nearly empty environment to reduce the computational noise impacting the outcome of the calculation. An interesting fact about quantum computing is that with the increase in the number of qubits involved in any calculation, the computational power of the quantum computer increases exponentially as every qubit can represent two states – 2 to the power n, where n is the number of qubits.
Other than Superposition, there are two interesting concepts in Quantum Computing. Entanglement is the concept of Quantum Physics that explains the phenomenon of the interaction of two qubits across the universe. Interference in Quantum Computing is somewhat related to Superposition that explains the bias of outcome towards a particular state.
Why do we need Quantum Physics?
Simply stated, to explain a few complexities of our universe that Classical Physics has fallen short of explaining to the fullest satisfaction. Phenomena like Blackbody radiation, Photoelectric effect, Hydrogen atom’s behavior with heat, etc cannot be satisfactorily explained with Classical Physics.
Why do we need Quantum Computing?
As proclaimed by Gordon Moore, the number of transistors on Intel’s processors at the time of their introduction has almost doubled every 18 to 24 months. But, this growth of computational power over time is slowing down because of the manageable limits of size, heat generated, and power required.
Quantum Computing is kind of following Neven’s Law of Quantum Computing that proclaims that Quantum computers are improving at a doubly exponential rate.
The growth of computing power in Moore’s Law was exponential by powers of 2: 21, 22, 23, 24. Doubly exponential growth represents the growth of computing power by powers of powers of 2.
How to transform Mathematical Concepts of Quantum Computing into a Physical Machine for day-to-day use?
We saw how the field of electronics made progress from valve-based transistors to semiconductor-based transistors before we got our modern days laptop or desktop. Long before that, we learned to use tools like Abacus that is nothing but a version of an analog computer. Now, the big question is around making the concepts of quantum physics and computing a reality for normal day-to-day use. What kind of inorganic or organic compound can represent the quantum phenomenon for regular use towards human computational needs?
It is still in the state of research and continuous development. Summary of types of Quantum Computers are as follows:
- Quantum Annealing Computers – by DWave Systems
- Universal Quantum Computers – IBM, Google
- Topological Quantum Computers – Microsoft
- Ion Trap Quantum Computers – IonQ
A number of vendors are also offering Quantum Computer Simulators over the Cloud.
Potential Use cases of Quantum Computing
Fundamentally, the best application areas for Quantum Computing are those that involve the massive volume of data and processing of those data but don’t need 100 percent accuracy and precision. Additionally, considering the current state of technology, those use cases should support the possibility of Hybrid Computing, that is, the use of both Quantum Computers as well as Classical Computers, taking advantage of respective computing advantages. At the first step, Quantum Computers will narrow the options of possible solutions because of its probabilistic nature, and at the final step, Classical Computers will deliver the final solution with defined accuracy or precision.
Biochemistry and Pharmaceuticals
These are huge potential benefits of Quantum Computing in the field of Biochemistry to reduce the time and effort needed for the Synthesis of Molecules. Modeling of Molecules impacting quicker Drug Discovery is a very important application area, directly impacting human life.
In Cancer Treatment, Quantum Computing will have a positive impact in Intensity Modulated Radio Therapy (IMRT) with better optimization of dosage calculations.
In the field of Materials Production, Quantum Computer will drastically improve the manufacturing process of fertilizer, impacting global food production and agriculture.
Quantum Computing will positively change the way Algorithm-driven High-Frequency Trading takes place in Finacial Companies.
Smart City and government
Management of driverless cars through a big city with continuous optimization can only be handled with the massive computational power of Quantum Computers. Transportation and Logistics of the future will be positively impacted by Quantum Computing.
Weather forecasting is expected to improve with the use of Quantum Computer. Energy Generation and Distribution and related calculation of utilization prediction, grid optimization will function with better accuracy.
Needless to mention that Quantum Computing drives the performance with better optimization using massive data quicker and better.
Areas of AI like unsupervised machine learning, computer vision, etc will make AI more effective to society with Quantum Computing.
Quantum Computing is expected to disrupt the way present-day cybersecurity using Cryptography functional. Researchers in the field of Quantum Cryptography are busy formulating quantum-ready encryption algorithms. Some of the algorithms like McEliece Cryptography are being thought to mitigate the impacts of Quantum Computing.
The underlying premise of cryptography for Blockchain to function has to evolve to remain effective in the era of Quantum Computing. Concepts like Quantum Resistant Ledger are active research areas now.
Conclusion – How should we prepare for Quantum future?
When the global organizations are undertaking AI-first strategy, a few industry sectors like Finance, Logistics, Biotechnology, etc already started evaluating the potential impacts of Quantum Computing. Need of the time is to be aware of the disruptive impact on Cybersecurity and of the transformative impact on business-centric innovation with Quantum Computing.