UPSC Science and Technology Current Affairs: Quantum Computing Frontier IAS Current Affairs
Baljit Dhaka

UPSC Science and Technology Current Affairs: Quantum Computing Frontier IAS Current Affairs

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UPSC Science and Technology Current Affairs: Quantum Computing Frontier IAS Current Affairs

What is Quantum Computing?

  • It is the use of laws of quantum mechanics to perform computation.
  • The device used to perform such computation is called a  quantum computer.
  • Quantum mechanics is the field of physics that deals with nature at the atomic or subatomic level.
  • At such a small scale, many laws of classical physics cease to apply, and the unique laws of quantum physics, such as Planck's Quantum Principle, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, etc. come into play.

How do quantum computers differ from traditional computers?

  • Our traditional computers work based on the laws of classical physics, specifically by utilizing the flow of electricity.
  • They process information in ‘bits’ or 1s and 0s, following classical physics under which our computers can process a ‘1’ or a ‘0’ at a time.
  • Quantum computers, on the other hand, compute in quantum bits or qubits, using phenomena such as superposition and entanglement.

What are superposition and entanglement?

  • Unlike classical physics, in which an object can exist in only one place at one time, quantum physics looks at the probabilities of an object being at different points. Existence in multiple states at a time is called superposition, and the correlation among these states is called entanglement.
  • To put it in terms of computing, in traditional computers, the processor can be either 0 or 1 but in a quantum computer, it can be both 0 and 1 simultaneously.
  • IBM Q System One, the world's first-ever circuit-based commercial quantum computer.

(Pic credits: Forbes) 

Why do we need this new type of computing?

  • There are challenges that today’s systems will never be able to solve or will take an infinitely long duration to solve. For problems above a certain size or complexity, we need quantum computers.
  • The point where quantum computers can do things that classical computers cannot is called quantum supremacy.
  • It is a term proposed in 2012 by John Preskill, professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology.

How far have we reached in this field?

  • Today, real quantum processors are used by researchers from all over the world to test out algorithms for applications in a variety of fields.
  • Companies like Google, IBM, Intel, Rigetti, etc have developed their own quantum processors.
  • In October 2019 Google claimed a breakthrough in quantum computing. It said to have solved a task in 200 seconds that would have taken a supercomputer 10,000 years to complete.

What are the most promising application areas of quantum computing?

  • Quantum computing will help achieve huge advances in scientific research and technology. Among areas that stand to gain are artificial intelligence, and new drug therapies.
  • Along with that, it can help in areas such as weather forecasting, financial modeling, cryptography, and a lot of other commercial applications that are likely to be benefited by advancements in this field.

Has India started working on quantum computing?

  • In 2018, the Department of Science & Technology unveiled a program called Quantum-Enabled Science & Technology (QuEST) and committed to investing 80 crores over the next three years to accelerate research.
  • In Union Budget 2020-21, the government of India announced an 8,000 crore outlay for developing quantum computing linked technologies under the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications.