Dr. Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, renowned nuclear physicist, mathematician and distinguished professor, delivered a talk on ‘Quantum Computing’ at Information Technology University. During the talk, he discussed the basic principles and applications of Quantum Computing, as well as its use in information and information processing.
Dr. Hoodbhoy is a nuclear physicist, professor and national security analyst. He has undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics, a master’s in solid state physics, and a PhD degree in nuclear physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was a faculty member at the Quaid-e-Azam University Physics department for 40 years and is currently a professor of Physics and Mathematics at Forman Christian College University. He has been the recipient of numerous prizes including the IEEE Baker Award for Electronics (1968), the Abdus Salam Prize for Mathematics (1984), the UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the popularization of science (2003), the Joseph A. Burton Award (2010) from the American Physical Society and the Jean Mayer Award from Tufts University. In 2011, he was included in the list of the 100 most influential global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine.
Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy said that quantum mechanics is one of the most obtuse branches of Physics and even Albert Einstein tried to disprove it but quantum mechanics is real and it is necessary to understand life. Using it, we can learn about the behaviour of matter at an atomic and subatomic level, including the reason why hydrogen atoms don’t collapse.
Explaining quantum mechanics, Dr. Hoodbhoy commented that the Second Law of Thermodynamics can’t be broken. The law states that in an isolated system, entropy can’t be diminished. However, Maxwell’s Demon theoretically defies the Second Law of Thermodynamics and suggests that the entropy of the system is reduced and energy can be derived from it. The moral of the story is that information converts to energy. So quantum mechanics has huge implications for information and information processing.
During his talk, Dr. Hoodbhoy said that quantum computing is basically using these laws of quantum mechanics to process information. Classical computers that are available these days are slow because they are sequential and in contrast, quantum computers can carry out billions of times more computations than normal computers. We can write algorithms for quantum computers that are asymptotically faster than the best algorithms possible for classical computers. This is because quantum computers make direct use of quantum-mechanical phenomena such superposition and entanglement.
Large scale quantum information processors might seem difficult to make at the moment but they are possible. In fact, serious prototypes for quantum communication already exist but more work is needed. According to Dr. Hoodbhoy, the commercial production of quantum computers is at least 20 years away. However, the advantages of quantum computing are endless and are limited only by our imagination. We seem to be on the brink of a quantum revolution that might shepherd in a new golden age.