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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. What do you understand by Quantum Supremacy? What can be the possible applications of quantum computing? (250 words)

    06 Nov, 2019 GS Paper 3 Science & Technology


    • Define Quantum Supremacy and recent advancements in this field.
    • Briefly mention how quantum computing is different from traditional super-computing.
    • Mention the possible applications of quantum computing.


    • The phrase “quantum supremacy” was coined in 2012 by John Preskill.
    • Quantum supremacy refers to a quantum computer solving a problem that cannot be expected of a classical computer in a normal lifetime. Hence, they far exceed the speed and capability of classical supercomputing.
    • Recently, Google’s quantum computer, named Sycamore, claimed “quantum supremacy”, as it reportedly did the task in 200 seconds that would have apparently taken a supercomputer 10,000 years to complete.

    Quantum Computing

    • Quantum Computing works on the principles of quantum theory, and seeks to exploit the laws that govern the behavior of atoms and subatomic particles.
    • Quantum computers compute in ‘qubits’ (or quantum bits). They exploit the properties of quantum mechanics, the science that governs how matter behaves on the atomic scale.
    • Here, the qubits can be a 1 and a 0 simultaneously, a state called quantum superposition as against conventional supercomputers which can process a ‘1’ or a ‘0’ at a time.

    Applications of quantum computing

    • It can have a major impact through quantum chemistry, which could be important in agriculture and human health.
    • It could help with the development of new pharmaceuticals, new energy sources, new ways to collect solar power, and new materials.
    • It would be helpful in processing huge amounts of data. Data mining and artificial intelligence would be the major beneficiaries, along with sciences which deal in volumes of data, from astronomy to linguistics.
    • Some other real life applications include meteorology and weather forecasting, geology, space exploration, etc.


    India should invest in creating capabilities which would help take most advantage of quantum-computing. The Department of Science & Technology’s programme called Quantum-Enabled Science & Technology (QuEST) to accelerate research is a step in the right direction.

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