IBM Quantum scientist Maika Takita in a lab. (Photo: IBM)

Inside India’s quest to ride the quantum wave

Given a million possibilities, Jitesh Lalwani, founder and CEO of Artificial Brain Tech Inc., believes quantum computing can provide the answers. His US-based, Pune-based company has developed an algorithm that harnesses the power of cloud-accessible quantum computers.

“The algorithm solves this problem by considering the point of interest and pre-existing electricity charging points, and then optimally places new charging points to cover as many people as possible,” says Lalwani.

But why not use High Performance Computing (HPC) for this task? HPCs process data and perform complex calculations at high speed. “These are very complex problems that classical computers (conventional ones that we use in our daily lives, such as laptops, desktops and even HPC) cannot solve. And even if they do, it will take them millions of years,” he explains.

Lalwani claims that his company’s quantum algorithm returns the result of a real quantum computer in less than three seconds for 8543811434435330 (8.5 * 10^15) combinations.

Artificial Brain now plans to modify this quantum algorithm to find optimal locations for wind and solar farms.

Chennai-based Quantica Computacao is another company betting on quantum computing. His goal is to develop quantum cryptographic tools that will help protect banking transactions. He is also working on quantum machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to help researchers speed up their algorithms.

The two startups emphasize that quantum computing is no longer an esoteric science confined to research labs – it is beginning to find business applications. More on that later. First, let’s demystify the quantum computer.

Science

The computers we see and use in our homes and offices today process information with bits (ones and zeros). They are referred to as classic or conventional computers. Quantum computers, on the other hand, use quantum bits, or qubits, that can process ones and zeros simultaneously thanks to a property known as superposition, which allows them to process much more information than traditional computers. In October 2019, Google said it had performed a calculation on a quantum processor in 300 seconds, which would have been virtually impossible to achieve with the algorithms available at the time. The report was published in the journal Nature.

Quantum computing also makes use of “quantum entanglement,” a property that Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance,” because it allows quantum particles to come together regardless of their location in space.

On January 27, scientists from two leading laboratories in Ahmedabad of the Department of Space – the Space Applications Center and the Physical Research Laboratory – jointly demonstrated quantum entanglement with Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) in real time between two buildings separated by a distance of 300 meters. QKD allows any two parties to generate random secret keys that can be shared solely for the purpose of encrypting and decrypting messages. This makes communications very secure, especially important for defense and strategic agencies around the world.

A race for pace

Companies like International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), D-Wave Systems, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Nvidia and Intel have started providing cloud quantum services. IBM has built more than 30 quantum computers in the last four to five years, more than 20 of which are active right now and IBM provides access to them through the IBM Cloud. However, while most tech companies use a quantum gate approach (similar to logic gates in conventional computers), D-Wave uses both “quantum annealing” and quantum gates.

Also referred to as adiabatic quantum computing, D-Wave’s quantum annealing approach can determine the lowest energy state of a system using the superposition property of qubits. For example, the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute (USC-ISI) used the D-Wave quantum computer for advanced data analysis for the discovery of Higgs bosons and methods for performing error correction using quantum annealing. Higgs bosons, known informally as the ‘god particle’, are the fundamental particle associated with the Higgs field, which is responsible for imparting mass to other fundamental particles.

And all companies are focused on adding more qubits. While IBM aims to launch a 4,000-qubit quantum computer by 2025, the D-Wave Advantage2 system is expected to contain 7,000 qubits with a new qubit design. However, since both of these companies (IBM gateway approach Vs D-Wave annealing) build these computers with different technologies, it’s not fair to compare the two approaches. “It’s better to have options for different objects and implementations,” says Federico Spedalieri, research assistant professor at USC-ISI.

Meanwhile, Google’s parent company Alphabet is building advanced quantum computing hardware with a focus on developing quantum artificial intelligence. Alphabet also has a dedicated “secret” team working on quantum technology, which it has now spun off into a separate company called SandboxAQ, where AQ stands for “AI and Quantum.” Google plans to have one million qubit quantum computers ready by 2030.

Microsoft, for its part, offers access to quantum computers from many manufacturers on its Azure cloud platform, while Intel is developing its own silicon-based quantum computing hardware.

How is India located?

India’s quantum ecosystem is growing at an accelerated pace with support from government agencies and participation from academia, service providers and the startup community, points out a report titled Quantum Revolution in India jointly published by Nasscom and management consulting. company Avasant this February.

India, for example, plans to develop a quantum computer with about 50 qubits by 2026. India also has a Quantum Simulator platform built by Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee and Pune. The Center for the Development of Advanced Computation (C-DAC), which enables users to perform quantum simulation using computational resources from high-performance C-DAC computers such as PARAM Shavak and PARAM Siddhi.

In a recent interview with Mint, Murray Thom, vice president of product management at D-Wave, pointed out that with over 25,000 users, India has had the third highest number of signups for the quantum cloud service since it started providing access to users like Lalwani in India in 2020.

Dario Gil, senior VP and director of IBM Research, also pointed out in an interview with Mint that IBM is currently having “a lot of talks with some IITs and leading training centers to develop curricula and certifications. The Qiskit (Python software development kit used to program quantum computers) textbook is now also available in Tamil, Bengali and Hindi”.

Indian IT service providers are also dabbling in this space. Last September, Infosys said it was working with Amazon Web Services to develop quantum computing capabilities. In April this year, Tech Mahindra’s R&D arm, Makers Lab, announced that it had set up a quantum center of excellence in Finland called QNxT to leverage the country’s expertise in quantum computing. It also plans to set up quantum centers in Pune and Hyderabad to explore applications in sectors such as telecom, 5G, energy and healthcare.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) works on quantum algorithms for applications in optimization, ML, image processing, molecular simulations and use cases such as portfolio and risk, transportation, logistics and communications. Meanwhile, HCL is developing use cases for transportation and logistics, finance and security. Zensar focuses on areas such as drug discovery, genomic analysis, fraud detection, advanced materials, credit risk optimization and supply chain optimization.

The adoption of quantum technologies across industries could potentially add $280-310 billion to the Indian economy by 2030, with manufacturing, high-tech, banking and defense sectors at the forefront of quantum-led innovation, according to Nasscom. -Avasant message.

According to Gario, IBM is working globally with firms such as JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Mizuho Bank, Daimler, energy companies and some materials companies. According to a report by McKinsey and Co. from December 2021, titled Quantum computing: An emerging ecosystem, sectors such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, automotive and finance could see near-term benefits worth between $300 billion and $700 billion from the technology. and industrial use cases.

Big challenges

Before quantum computers can solve business problems better than classical computers (known as “quantum advantage”) or even those that the former cannot solve (called “quantum superiority”), there are many hurdles to overcome.

First, quantum computers are highly susceptible to interference, which leads to errors in the quantum algorithms that run on them. According to the McKinsey report cited above, while several hardware platforms for quantum computing are being developed, it will be important to achieve “fully corrected and fault-tolerant quantum computers, without which a quantum computer cannot provide accurate, mathematically precise results.” However, some companies, including Google, have announced plans to have fault-tolerant quantum computing hardware by 2030.

Second, most quantum computers cannot operate without supercooling to slightly above absolute zero, because the heat generates errors or noise in the qubits. But this June, the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Center in Perth said it was working with German-Australian startup Quantum Brilliance to test its two-qubit diamond quantum “accelerator”, which uses synthetic diamonds and runs at room temperature in any environment. The center is currently testing it by pairing it with its new state-of-the-art Setonix supercomputer. Running quantum computers at room temperature could be a game changer.

Finding the right talent is another big hurdle. The National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NM-QTA), a program of the Government of India, aims to create a workforce of over 25,000 in India in the next five to seven years, but there is an acute shortage of PhD candidates in quantum science. physics, engineering and statistics.

This means that the Defense Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) in Pune launched an MTech in quantum computing in 2020. IISc Bangalore followed suit and offered the same course a year later. IBM has partnered with leading academic institutions in India to provide access to IBM quantum systems, while Microsoft Garage India has partnered with IIT Roorkee to deliver lectures on quantum computing throughout the semester.

Startups are also applying. QpiAI, a startup that uses quantum computing and AI to offer solutions for various industries, offers a module study for AI and quantum certification, while Qulabs Software, another quantum solutions firm, offers six-month internships at the company.

Others, like Sumant Parimal, founding partner of research and consulting firm Innogress, focus on building an ecosystem. Innogress plans to set up the Greater Karnavati Quantum Computing Technology Park in Gujarat to enable everything from “research and development to design and engineering, simulation to testing and manufacturing to packaging and qualification.”

“We are talking to potential technology partners and investors. It will require seed capital of approximately $300 million. It is a 5-10 year plan,” says Parimal.

Is right. According to a McKinsey report, China and the European Union rank first and second in public funding of quantum computing, with investments of $15 billion and $7.2 billion, respectively. The United States, United Kingdom, and India follow in a distant third, fourth, and fifth place, with just over $1 billion each.

To be sure, the Government of India has announced NM-QTA with a total budget outlay of ₹8,000 crore over a period of five years to be implemented by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2020, but is yet to receive Cabinet approval.

Despite these obstacles, quantum computing is set to grow, but we will likely see a hybrid computing-operating model that combines conventional computing with emerging quantum computers before they come of age. As the McKinsey report notes, “The change could come as early as 2030, as several companies predict they will launch usable quantum systems by then.”

He also recommends that companies begin formulating “their quantum computing strategies, particularly in industries such as pharmaceuticals that can benefit from the first advantages of commercial quantum computing.”

Sanjit
Sanjit

I am Sanjit Gupta. I have completed my BMS then MMS both in marketing. I even did a diploma in computer software and Digital Marketing.

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