India can play big in advancing quantum computing: Says Arvind Krishna

India has a primary role to play in advancing the future of quantum computing with a strong scientific and engineering culture, as well as the spirit of innovation, said Arvind Krishna, chairman & CEO, IBM. “India has the right attributes play a leadership role,” said Krishna, speaking at the Infinity Forum organised by the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) and GIFT City.

Quantum computing will be the next big technological breakthrough, allowing computers to address issues that are beyond their current capabilities. “Together with hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence, quantum computing is a foundational technology that the world needs to make sense of the physical world around us,” said Krishna.
While quantum computing will find application across areas like drug discovery, agriculture and climate models among others, Krishna said that the earliest impact one was likely to see was in finance. “The possibilities it opens up in finance will be far reaching consequences,” said Krishna, adding that this would happen in the next five years.

Krishna added that most financial calculations are fundamentally optimization problems, pointing out that the banking industry has traditionally been an early user of innovations, from mainframes to cloud computing. Quantum computers excel at complicated optimization tasks. The 100 most notable application cases for quantum computing were identified by McKinsey, and 28 of them were in banking.

“Some of the world’s toughest optimization problems in finance, would require a colossal amount of computation power. And asking classical computers to sequentially compute or billions of combinations is far from ideal. It’s too much time and too much money. So even for some of today’s fastest supercomputers, running these combinations, is not feasible,” said Krishna.

IBM is doing experiments with over 170 partners through the IBM Quantum Experience, and has made over 20 of these machines available to the public through the cloud. The company announced last month the first commercial quantum computer to break the 100-qubit barrier. A quantum computer’s power is measured in qubits. Certain network users will have access to a 127-qubit quantum processor, which will progressively become more publicly available.

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