[P.S: This is in continuation of the previous article “Is it the beginning of the Chinese domination of the globe?…Mr Modi to take note”. In the previous article, we referred to some of the recent progresses made by China in the field of Quantum Computing and started our discussion on how this may impact the global political and military supremacy. We shall continue to discuss this concern in the current article with the disclaimer that I am only an ex-student of Quantum Physics at my post graduation level and I am presently working in the area of Cyber Law and Cyber Security and trying to flag my concerns. I welcome other experts to join the discussion and correct my perceptions as necessary…. Naavi]
In the era of Artificial intelligence, Big data, IoT and realtime computing to solve security and other functional issues speed in the essence of success. Quantum Computing therefore is considered as a tool to beat the best of the super computers in the market to achieve levels of fast processing that can only be imagined in scientific fictions as of today. When we first saw computers, they were of the size of big rooms. Now they sit in miniature form on our palms. The difference this made to the globe is for everyone to see and appreciate. Similarly, Quantum Computers of today may be laboratory models with huge coolers filling up a whole building while the chip itself may still fit into our palms. But in the coming years it is not unthinkable that palmsize computers may interact with the room size lab models of Quantum computing and enable the benefits of quantum computing to reach the levels of personal computers as we see today. Hence the current developments need to be keenly followed so that we in India donot miss the bus…. at least in the next trip.
In Classical computing, computer Chips which process memory and instructions are built on “Transistors” which are at any point of time either “On” or “Off”. From this on-off state of the miniature transistors we interpret data using the binary language. Each bit represents one transistor which can be either representing a binary value of Zero or One.
We put eight transistors in a set and call it as a “Byte” and assign meanings to the status of each of these transistors in combination as letters, characters or numbers and use them to build data. Similarly, for routing electronic current for processing, we create gates that allow or stop the flow of current by designating a transistor into “Allow” or “Disallow” status. The number of such transistors required for representing data or a process execution determines the “Speed of Computing”. Higher the speed better will be the use of computers for real time applications.
With the development of Artificial Intelligence, any increase in the computing speed is considered an increased ability to conquer new grounds in information processing leading to economic and military progress.
In the “Quantum Computing”, the “Bits” of Classical computing which are transistors which can either be in a state of 0 or 1 at any point of time are replaced with Qubits. The Qubit is a sub atomic particle (Electron or nucleus of an atom) which can be in different “Spin States”. It may be spinning in one direction which could be designated as a Zero state and it could spin in opposite direction which can be called the One State. The same particle can be considered as not being in a “Certain” state at a point of time but at an “Uncertain State” where we can only measure the probability of it being in Zero state or One state.
Leaving the Physics behind the concept for another forum to worry about, for the Computer technologists, let me state that this possibility of a Qubit being in either a 0 or 1 at the same time is called “Super positioning” and in terms of data representation means that each Qubit can be used not for just representing either a zero or One as in the classical computing but both Zero and One at the same time. This increases the power of computing of a set of Qubits by a factor 2 to the power of n where n is the number of Qubits in the data representation set.
The fastest super computer in the world using classical computing is said to be Chinese super computer called Sunway TaihuLight with a rating of 93 petaflops per second (93 quadrillion floating point operations per second) and consists (petaflop=million billion). The system has a memory build consisting of 40960 nodes with each node consisting of 32GB memory. The number of transistors used in this computer is perhaps 10485.76 trillion (if my calculation is correct).
In the Quantum computing scenario, this speed is expected to be achieved by a system with about 50 Qubits. (See this article for a lucid explanation of computing speed in Quantum world) . Presently, it is reported that IBM and Intel are working on a 50 Qubit experimental computer and Google is trying to work on a project with 72 Qubit model.
The reports indicate that China has made substantial progress in practical terms in not only achieving supremacy in the classical computing scenario but also working on practical models of Quantum Computers particularly in the area of achieving higher levels of accuracy with the “Entangled Qubits”. We shall discuss the impact of “Entanglement” in the next article and now focus on the speed of computing achieved with building a Qubit based processor.
It is reported that Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent holdings are cometing in quantum computing research to gain a hold in the commercial development of the mother of all super computers based on Quantum computing principles.
We can presume that most of these researches are secretly driven and there is every possibility that US may have also progressed substantially in the field. But it is definitely a fact that China appears to be progressing fast and there is no reason to downplay the possibility that they may achieve a breakthrough ahead of others.
While as a part of the scientific community, I appreciate the work of the Chinese scientists, considering the political leadership of China, the developments need to be flagged in India as a concern. We therefore need to counter these measures with our own research activities both independently and also in collaboration with friendly countries such as US and Japan who may share similar concerns about the progress China is making. At this point of time, I donot trust EU countries since Islamic invasion of Europe and UK is in an advanced stage and within the next generation EU can be completely engulfed by Islam. Hence advanced scientific research knowledge is likely to be more misused in the EU countries than in India, US and Japan though even here we need to be on guard.
I hope IISC and similar scientific research organizations undertake suitable projects so that we can also make some progress towards achievement of computing supremacy through Quantum Computing.
This is the second part of the series of three articles. The first part is here.
Links to all three parts: