India can look to its past for its quantum computing payload
Groundbreaking mathematical innovations in this field were made by none other than the genius mathematician of the 20th century, Srinivasa Ramanujan. He made significant advances in mathematics that paved the way for countless innovations in cryptography. His work became the foundation for several advances in modern mathematics and computer science.
As Western countries and China advance in quantum technologies, it would be helpful for India to revisit Ramanujan’s mathematical concepts to catch up in quantum computing.
With the announcement of the establishment of the National Mission on Quantum Technology and its Applications (NM-QTA) in the Budget Speech 2020-21, India has finally got its foot in the door in the field of quantum technology .
Quantum technology, which has its roots in quantum physics, will bring about a paradigm shift in the way we view technology today. Computing power will increase exponentially, and problems that would take hundreds of years to solve by a classical computer will be solved in seconds by a quantum computer.
Encryption and decryption will also undergo a drastic change with the advent of quantum computers. These mega machines will disrupt the way we communicate. Researchers around the world believe that quantum computers will be able to hack the most powerful and robust cryptographic algorithms, like 2048-bit RSA, in seconds, posing a challenge to the secure exchange of critical information.
Since conventional computers are not equipped to identify quantum cyberattacks, it will be difficult to mitigate such maliciousness in the future. Cybersecurity will be at risk and massive data breaches could become commonplace.
As quantum computers evolve to compromise encryption, the only way to counter it is to create quantum-resistant encryption standards. Alternatively, relying on quantum principles, such as entanglement and superposition, to develop encryption algorithms is another path.
While the latter will involve huge cost and infrastructure apart from a working quantum computer, the former uses Ramanujan graphs for post-quantum cryptography. This can further be deployed to develop algorithms using conventional computers.
Over the past few decades, crypto enthusiasts have applied number theory to plumb the depths of Ramanujan graphs. They are mathematical functions that rose to prominence for two major reasons: first, they solved long-standing external problems in communication, and second, for their aesthetics.
Researchers around the world are working on Ramanujan graphs for post-quantum cryptography; that is, to develop this set of mathematical functions to deploy mechanisms to protect data and information against quantum cyberattacks. This can be achieved as India’s pursuit of quantum computer development continues in parallel.
For countries like India that have just entered the race for quantum supremacy, massive effort and investment will be needed to compete with the United States and China, which have already invested heavily in this cutting-edge technology.
Needless to say, first mover advantage can be exploited for technological advancement and to exploit vulnerabilities in existing communication systems of emerging economies.
Looking to its classics and its rich history in mathematics, linguistics and poetic traditions may prove to be a decisive factor for India in building systems capable of protecting information, protecting the privacy of its citizens and find ways to maintain national security.
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