Quantum computing has emerged as a technology that outperforms the efficiency of classical computers. IBM has a long history of advancing the reality of quantum computing technology and brings decades of research – from theory to the entire technology stack – to the quantum computing industry. This work has positioned IBM as a leader in this emerging space with the globe’s largest fleet of quantum computers available on the IBM Cloud. To understand more about IBM’s strategy around Quantum Computing and its potential for a country like India, Express Computer spoke with Dr Amith Singhee, Director, IBM Research India & CTO IBM India South Asia
Some edited excerpts:
What is the potential of quantum computing for a country like India?
Quantum computing draws on the fundamental laws of nature that gives them the unique power that could provide solutions to major societal challenges such as energy, health, climate, and security. As this technology progresses, there is an opportunity to bring about huge changes: next-gen battery design, automotive structural analysis, new materials design, enzyme design, fraud detection, cyber forensics, sustainability, risk management, drug discovery and more. This potential has led to a quantum race all over the world and governments and industry are rolling out strategic plans including India. Well known-for its technology prowess and talent pool, India has the potential to build capacity in quantum computing and become a talent and innovation hub for this technology. Nasscom-Avasant, in their 2022 report, have predicted that India will have a $310 billion value industry in quantum technologies by 2030.
What are some of the initiatives taken by IBM to encourage the creation of a quantum computing ecosystem in India
At IBM, we believe that open source access and adoption is how an ecosystem of developers, scientists, educators, professionals and entire industries can get “quantum ready” to benefit from quantum. Today, IBM has the largest and most extensive commercial quantum program and ecosystem, with more than 460,000 total registered users and 200+ members of our quantum network worldwide across that includes over 50+ academia , 40+ startups and members representing a range of industries, including healthcare, automotive, banking, and finance.
In India too, we are nurturing a community of students, developers to build their skills and understanding of the technology by providing them with learning resources, tools and access to quantum computers for a hands -on experience to program them using the Qiskit open-source framework and adopt them to address problems which are beyond the scope of classical computers.
Some of our initiatives include:
• Quantum Education and Workforce development : We have partnered with leading educational institutions in India through the IBM Quantum Educators Program. IBM Quantum and IIT Madras also jointly offer a course on Quantum Computing
on the NPTEL Platform – one of the highest registered quantum courses in the
country. in addition, the Qiskit community in India is vibrant and actively participates in all global IBM Quantum programs like Qiskit Summer School, IBM Quantum Challenge, Quantum Explorers and so on. The Qiskit textbook is also available in Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam and Hindi languages.
• Strong Industry Academic partnership for Research to develop use cases: IIT Madras has recently joined the IBM Quantum Network and has access to IBM’s most advanced quantum computing systems and IBM’s quantum expertise. Through this partnership we are jointly exploring practical applications to realize the wide-ranging benefits of this technology in areas like Finance, Chemistry.
• R&D in Quantum Science – Software/ Hardware/Applications: Academia plays an important role in building skills and driving research for Deep Tech. Through the IBM Quantum Researchers Program, we are helping members of the quantum information science community get research done faster, with access to more systems with pulse access and larger share of the fair-share queue.
Can you share with us some of the examples of companies / institutions using quantum computing in India and its impact
Quantum computing is a strategic investment with a long term viability, it’s about focusing on technology innovation for business differentiation in your industry. Its impact will be visible few years down the line when quantum computers have advanced and offer an advantage to classical computers. And irrespective of the industry, quantum computers will accelerate the process and support use cases related to optimization, machine Learning, simulation and high computational mathematical problems. But for India to become an innovation hub, it cannot wait for the technology to advance elsewhere but it needs its own intellectual capacity, its own research technology and its own IP. The industry needs to identify use cases and the intractable problems that quantum computing has the potential solve.
Having joined the IBM Quantum Network, IIT Madras is focused on advancing core algorithms in research areas like Quantum Machine Learning, Quantum Optimization, and applications research in finance. They are using IBM Quantum services alongside the open-source Qiskit framework to explore areas such as quantum algorithms, quantum machine learning, quantum error correction and error mitigation, quantum tomography, and quantum chemistry, and to also advance and grow the quantum computing ecosystem in the country through industry partnerships.
Vision to promote usage of quantum computing in the government and the enterprise sector in the country ? What are some of the steps taken?
Quantum technology is an important part of India’s technology ambition and its success relies on a collaborative approach that includes industry, government, academia, and startups. Last year, we published a White Paper on ‘Building an Indian Quantum Industry‘ outlining an approach that India can take to build a sustainable and vibrant quantum ecosystem. This approach is based on our experience of working with multiple members of IBM Quantum Network spread across the globe.
First and foremost, Research and Development is a key catalyst for bringing the ecosystem together around concrete use cases that create value for the economy and society, with an understanding of how quantum-centric computing systems and software can address some of the hard challenges and unlock this value. This goes hand in hand with the availability of Quantum services and Infrastructure that allow the experimentation and scaling of technology needed, via multiple modalities – cloud-based, on-premise, and leveraging the best capabilities of both quantum and classical computing. Along with this, the scale of impact will be enabled by the other two components: workforce and enablement of new and existing workforce across different domains of software, computing systems, and business around quantum; and Economic Development and industry where industry readies itself for leveraging quantum and develops innovations, startups and a software-hardware supply chain for quantum.
Roadmap for the future — What are some of the prominent steps that IBM expects to take in 2023 around quantum computing in India?
In 2022, IBM extended its quantum roadmap to clearly lay out how we will blaze a path towards frictionless quantum computing. With the 1,121-qubit “Condor” processor slated for release later this year, we will test the limits of single-chip processors and controlling large-scale quantum systems. By 2025 we plan to build a 4,000+ qubit modular processor, and an intelligent quantum software orchestration platform that will abstract away the noise and complexity of quantum machines, and allow large and complicated problems to be easily broken apart and solved across a network of quantum and classical systems.
The Indian ecosystem will continue to access the advancements that IBM makes globally in quantum. As we continue our efforts on skilling, developing quantum standards, we also plan to engage closely with startups and industry in India to give the local ecosystem a boost.