(FedTech) When asked about quantum computing use in the federal agencies, Thyagarajan Nandagopal, acting deputy assistant director of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate at the National Science Foundation, pointed to quantum’s special strength in building and breaking encryption algorithms. This could impact security across government, and it might have special implications for the military.
If quantum helps us see deeper into biological processes, the Agriculture Department could use it to tweak photosynthesis and perhaps grow food more efficiently.
It might just make daily government processes more efficient. “A data set that takes days or months to churn through could give us answers in just a couple of seconds,” Nandagopal says. “That means you can make a sound policy decision based on that data much more quickly.”
Quantum is especially good for “optimization” problems — finding the best way to get to a desired end. That has big implications for government. The Federal Aviation Administration, for example, needs to maximize the number of planes that can come into an airport which is easy on an ordinary day. But when a thunderstorm comes in and disrupts air travel, they need to reoptimize quickly to get all the planes to come in in a safe an effective manner. Quantum does that extremely well, and the same techniques could be applied by the Defense Department to tackle transportation problems in order to better organize troop movements.
In the near term, government’s biggest role may be in helping to further the evolution of this emerging technology. Government labs and government-funded universities play an important role in fundamental research and the education of future quantum computing scientists and engineers.