Although quantum computing is a rapidly growing field, skills and expertise in this new area of ââtechnology are urgently needed and leading Indian institutions are working with IBM India on a qualification program for India.
Quantum computing has found application everywhere Medicine, Agriculture and Finance. The Indian government has launched the National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NMQTA) and emphasizes the importance of advancing the quantum domain in India. IBM India recently partnered with leading institutions in India to accelerate quantum computing education and research. Gadgets 360 spoke to iBM Quantum Ambassador L Venkata Subramaniam, Professor Anil Shaji from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Thiruvananthapuram, and Professor Anil Prabhakar from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras to understand what this is about Quantum computing is possible.
Is quantum computing a one-time change?
The performance of quantum computing is based on two fundamental phenomena of quantum mechanics – superposition and quantum entanglement. While the bits in a classic computer exist as a sequence of zeros and ones, a quantum bit or qubit can remain in a state of a combination of zero and one – this is known as superposition. Entanglement, the other phenomenon that drives quantum computers, is a connection between qubits. âThe qubits don’t have to be close together. One qubit can be in Delhi and the other at the other end of the universe. However, if they are entangled, you can predict the state of the other qubit by looking at the state of one of the qubits, âexplained Subramaniam. By leveraging these two phenomena, quantum computing can be used in a wide variety of activities, ranging from accelerating drug and fertilizer discovery to solving complex optimization problems.
The government had announced NMQTA under the Ministry of Science and Technology in its budget last year with a total budget of Rs. 8000 crore for the further development of quantum technology. IBM’s collaboration with the leading educational institutions in India is aligned with this government move. As part of the Quantum Educator Program from IBM, the company will work with lecturers and students from the Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISER) – Pune, IISER – Thiruvananthapuram, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Jodhpur, IIT – Kanpur, IIT – Kharagpur, IIT – Madras, Indian Statistical Institute Kolkata, Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai and the University of Calcutta for further research and education in the field of quantum computing.
IBM introduced quantum computing over the cloud almost 5 years ago. The cooperating institutions receive priority access to the quantum systems, learning resources and quantum tools from IBM via the cloud. This gives students the opportunity to work on real quantum computers and to program them with Qiskit, a Python-based open source framework developed by IBM.
Empower India to show the way?
A 2019 study by the Progressive Policy Institute indicated that by 2024 India will overtake the US as the world’s largest development center, the quantum computing arena with greater efficiency.
Regarding the current state of quantum technology courses in Indian institutions, Subramaniam said: âMany of the courses are very theoretical in nature, there are no practical laboratory sessions. We enable students and faculty to receive all materials, including laboratory materials, study materials and the start code to get them started. “
According to Professor Shaji of IISER Thiruvananthapuram, there is a small problem with dealing with student expectations regarding quantum computing. “A lot of students are really interested in studying quantum computing now because of all the emphasis and also a little hype about quantum computing and quantum technologies,” said Professor Shaji. IISER
Thiruvananthapuram is also part of the NMQTA. One of the research IISER is doing is building a quantum computer with a different technology than that of IBM.
Professor Shaji said the collaboration initiated by IBM will have a significant cascading effect within five to ten years as students become familiar with this emerging technology at an early stage. Speaking of the student’s response, he added, âThere is quite a bit of news hype on the subject, so you go in and expect miracles to come out of it. It is important that the students understand that the technology is still in its infancy. It is important to understand that there are things you can do and there are things that you would like to do but cannot do yet. “
IIT Madras has a Center for Quantum Information, Communication, and Computing, where quantum computing is one of the three vertical areas of quantum research for the institution. In addition to the Quantum Educator’s Program, IIT Madras has also partnered with IBM for a course on quantum computers in the National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), an online learning platform funded by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development of the Government of India that offers free courses Offers STEM subjects at university level. The quantum computing course on NPTEL, which is due to start at the end of August, has already received over 6,000 registrations, a clear indication of the student interest in this topic.
Professor Prabhakar of IIT Madras said the institution had priority access to a number of IBM’s quantum machines. âOur students can take a quantum computing lab to run problems on these machines. Many of the machines are also available to the public, but not primarily. We can also reserve some machines for our students. This allows students to focus more on what they are doing. Our goal is to be able to train at least 15 students at a higher level every year. “