Why Is Space Exploration Important To Science?

The efforts of Virgin Galactic to open up the suborbital tourism industry and the ambitions of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) to settle Mars are most likely to be featured in popular science and technology news, whereas current scientific exploration initiatives, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Mars InSight mission, are less likely to be featured. 

Of course, this is reasonable given the fact that the founders of Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, Richard Branson and Elon Musk, are very well-known and vocal public personalities. 

Scientific missions, on the other hand, take a long time to complete and, with the exception of the brief thrill of mission launches (and landings, in certain instances), do not pique public attention. 

  • (Of course, when things go wrong, as they did in Apollo 1, Apollo 13, STS-51-L (the Challenger tragedy), STS-107 (the Columbia disaster), or, less dramatically, the failure of the Schiaparelli lander, the public pays notice.) 
  • Furthermore, the US and Luxembourg have enacted laws promoting commercial spaceflight. 
  • The US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015 promotes private business to develop capabilities related to space resource exploitation, such as lunar and asteroid mining, in addition to encouraging NASA to depend more heavily on the private sector for launch services. 

There are a variety of reasons for the increasing use of the private sector to provide services to and in space, but the most important one is cost. 

  • Launching material into low-Earth orbit (LEO) is very costly, with prices ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 USD/kg (and much higher per-kg costs for missions to more energetically distant destinations, such as geostationary orbit (GEO), the Moon, or other planets or their satellites). 
  • Space missions should become more inexpensive as a result of increased private sector involvement and competition in the design, production, and usage of launch vehicles and spacecraft. 
  • This, however, raises concerns about what the primary goal of spaceflight is or should be. 

The current emphasis on commercial spaceflight indicates that spaceflight exists primarily to create new markets for economic activities. 

  • Despite this shift in focus from national and international space projects to private efforts, the language surrounding space exploration has remained mostly unchanged since the 1960s and 1970s Apollo program. 

Whether one is advocating for increasing NASA or ESA budgets, withdrawing from the United Nations Outer Space Treaty and its restrictions on commercial exploitation of space resources, or speeding up SpaceX's plans to settle Mars, it is easy to predict the types of arguments that will be made: 

*that we need to explore space to save humanity from extinction; 

*that we need to use a reliable spacecraft to save humanity from extinction; 

*that we.. Will need to use/navigate Space to save humanity from extinction; 

*that we need to save all life in general from extinction.

  • These and other factors tend to coalesce into a kind of "space advocacy bundle." 
  • However, the reasoning that is often provided in support of these assertions (if any is provided at all) is frequently of poor quality and rigor. 
  • It's almost as if speaking these "spaceflight facts" while defending spaceflight is a tradition, or a precept of some sort of spaceflight religion. 
  • The issue is that proponents of spaceflight seldom attempt to gather facts to back up their different arguments. 
  • Rather, space lobbying consists mainly of repeating a limited number of talking points again and over, perhaps with the help of astronauts, astrophysicists, or global leaders. 

Astronauts and astrophysicists, on the other hand, are not the best people to ask about whether spaceflight is educational or if humans have an inherent need to explore. 

Education scientists, sociologists, psychologists, and evolutionary biologists are the people to talk to. In most of space advocacy, there is a lack of attention to acceptable sources of evidence. 

  • And if you're someone like me, who thinks that spaceflight is very essential but that its significance should be proven via sound argument, you'll be disappointed with the present state of space advocacy. 

Philosophers are trained to pay close attention to the outlines of logic. 

  • That is, they tend to concentrate on the formulation, judgment, and assessment of arguments in considerable detail. 
  • As a consequence, philosophers have a proclivity towards adopting exceptionally high criteria when it comes to accepting and rejecting ideas. 
  • As a philosopher, you may assume that my skepticism of fundamental spaceflight rationales stems only from disciplinary prejudice. 
  • And, while I intend for this essay to contribute to professional philosophical debate, the majority of what I have to say will be accessible, meaningful, and relevant to people from a variety of disciplinary and vocational backgrounds—from planetary scientists to political scientists; from astrobiologists to anthropologists; from space program employees to lawyers and legal scholars. 

To put it another way, the reasons for rejecting most fundamental principles of space advocacy, and the arguments I'll give in their place, should persuade more than simply my fellow philosophers. 

  • They should be appealing to anybody interested in space exploration who is also interested in the development of beliefs based on reason and evidence. 
  • With any hope, what I have to say will persuade many of those who are skeptical about spaceflight's usefulness. 
  • But, whether or not my personal findings are eventually accurate, I will consider this article a success if it inspires people to think more carefully about spaceflight and its significance. 

So, what justifications do I want to provide in favor of spaceflight? In a broad sense, I view this as an ethical issue. 

Spaceflight, in my opinion, would actualize or promote something very beneficial, namely the creation of scientific knowledge and understanding. 

  • To put it another way, by "scientific knowledge," I mean a firm belief in a field of science that is supported by the best evidence available; by "scientific understanding," I mean systematic knowledge of a topic or theory in a field of science, as well as the ability to apply that knowledge in appropriate situations. 
  • As a result, I will argue that spaceflight is an important and productive means of expanding our knowledge and understanding of ourselves, our planet, our Solar System, and our Universe. 
  • Scientific knowledge and understanding are not only intrinsically valued (i.e., useful and worth pursuing for their own sakes); they are also instrumentally valuable (i.e., important for the ways they contribute to general society welfare and development). 
  • Neither of these things is intrinsically significant; instead of discussing the significance of possessing and using scientific knowledge and understanding, we might discuss the importance of, for example, being the types of people who seek scientific knowledge and understanding. 

When it comes to theoretical disagreements in normative ethics on the ultimate nature of good or wrong behavior, I try to retain as much neutrality as possible. My idea poses a number of issues. 

To begin with, the word "spaceflight" is too broad. 

  • Crewed and robotic exploration of the space environment, human space habitation, suborbital space tourism, space resource extraction, Earth observation from space, military and commercial satellite services, and so on are all part of it. 
  • Do I mean to support all of these activities equally, or just some of them, when I say that spaceflight should be supported because it adds to the creation of scientific knowledge and understanding? My response is that this funding is limited to just those initiatives that are most likely to make a significant contribution to science. 

As a result, I will not advocate for spaceflight in general, but rather for activities like Earth observation and robotic and crewed scientific research missions. 

Commercial and military spaceflight operations, on the other hand, are morally capable of much less. 

  • It is therefore alarming that the public seems to be much more interested in SpaceX and the possibility of forming a new branch of the US military dedicated to space security than in all of the great work being done by space scientists at universities and space organizations across the world. 
  • More importantly, my viewpoint has implications for what activities should be prioritized when it comes to space exploration and usage. 
  • There is a considerable danger of conflict between scientific and non-scientific applications of the space environment. 

Scientific applications of the space environment are linked with higher benefits, therefore they should be favored if they clash with other proposed uses of space.

That is, scientific goals should take precedence over, or even take the place of, commercial goals. 

  • If we had to choose between sending a mission to an asteroid to mine it for metals or other resources and sending a mission to an asteroid to research its composition and learn about the Solar System's early history and development, we should choose the latter. 
  • Importantly, my prioritizing of scientific applications of the space environment is time-limited and based on (what some would consider) cautious predictions regarding spaceflight technological development. 
  • Throughout, my emphasis will be on current spaceflight as well as the “near future” (which I take to extend two centuries into the future). 

I believe that no game-changing spaceflight technology will emerge fully within this time period. 

That is, I will assume that we will not develop technologies that are more akin to science fiction (warp drive; wormhole travel), that the frequency of space launches (and crew complements) will not increase by more than one or two orders of magnitude, and that interplanetary transit times will remain relatively constant. 

Outside of these restrictions, I cannot promise that I would argue a similar set of findings, albeit I do so very cautiously in the Epilogue. 

This leads us to the second issue raised by my position: 

Is it true that scientific understanding and information are useful in the manner I've suggested?

Is it worthwhile to pursue scientific knowledge and understanding for its own sake? 

Is it possible that their efforts will result in a variety of additional social benefits? 

Most readers, I believe, would agree that scientific knowledge and understanding are beneficial in these respects. 

  • However, this is another area where space enthusiasts prefer to give minimal assistance (as well as by science advocates and philosophers more generally). 
  • While it is intuitively true that scientific information and understanding are important both intrinsically and instrumentally, I would rather show rather than presume their worth. 
  • As I'll explain shortly, these are not easy jobs. 

A third concern is: 

What are the benefits of utilizing spaceflight to produce scientific knowledge and understanding vs the benefits of using spaceflight for other purposes? 

My goal, as I stated before, is to demonstrate why scientific spaceflight should be prioritized above non-scientific spaceflight. 

  • However, this seems to be difficult to sustain since non-scientific spaceflight is supported by significant responsibilities other than those connected to research. 

One of our most important responsibilities is to guarantee the human race' long-term existence. 

We must try to establish permanent, self-sustaining human civilizations in space since people cannot live on Earth indefinitely. 

  • Another important responsibility is to ensure and enhance humanity's material well-being. 
  • Because Earth's resources are finite, we must turn to space to meet humanity's resource requirements. 
  • While it is admirable to utilize space to create scientific knowledge and understanding, it takes away from the far more important goal of guaranteeing human existence and well-being. 

The appeal of my point of view is therefore determined by two factors: 

First, the case for space science is greater than previously thought. 

Second, the reasons for other kinds of spaceflight are weaker than previously thought. 

I believe that human survival and well-being are more important than scientific knowledge and comprehension, regardless of circumstance. 

  • As a result, I will not argue that duties to guarantee human existence and well-being are less than a duty to seek scientific knowledge and understanding. 
  • However, the strength of our responsibilities in reality is highly dependent on the circumstances. 

As a corollary to the notion that "ought implies can," if we don't have any practical, cheap methods of fulfilling a duty—even a very strong obligation—then the obligation isn't strong or overpowering in reality. 

  • Meanwhile, if we have an effective, inexpensive method of fulfilling a duty—even a little one—the power of that obligation grows in practice. 
  • If it can be shown in the near future that spaceflight either fails to guarantee human existence entirely, or does so in an ineffective and cost-effective manner, then there is no strong or overwhelming responsibility to utilize spaceflight for this reason. 
  • At the same time, if it can be shown that spaceflight is a cost-effective and efficient method of producing scientific knowledge and understanding, we will have a greater obligation to utilize spaceflight for this reason. 

I want to establish the relative importance of the value of space science using this kind of argument. 

Many of the typical space advocacy arguments are examined and rejected here. 

The first is the claim that spaceflight is educationally inspirational, implying that money spent on spaceflight boosts student interest in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). 

Unfortunately, there are few obvious beneficial links between STEM undergraduate and graduate degrees and spaceflight funding. 

As a result, we lack the statistical data needed to construct a causal case that spaceflight has a significant effect on students' educational choices. 


The second argument is that spaceflight will provide answers to universally important issues, such as the genesis of human existence and whether or not alien life exists. 

  • Despite the fact that there is a scarcity of survey data on these subjects, the evidence available suggests that most people are uninterested in what science has to say about the origin and spread of life. 
  • Humans have a natural need to explore, which supports human space exploration and colonization, according to a third of the conventional rationales. 
  • Several genes have been linked to exploratory behavior (which mainly refers to activities like local reconnaissance) and historical human migration, according to genetic and anthropological studies. 
  • However, these links do not prove that people have a natural need to explore, since research shows that characteristics like inquisitive behavior were chosen for after previous migrations, rather than driving them. 
  • There is currently no documented genetic or biological foundation for the notion that people have an inherent need to see what lies beyond the horizon, much alone expand out into space. 

A fourth argument is that, in order to prevent stagnation, human civilization need a new space frontier. 

The settlers would face a difficult environment while conquering the Martian frontier. 

  • This would compel them to improvise, invent, and adapt in ways that would teach the rest of mankind important lessons about science, technology, and democratic government, much as the conquest of the American West did for the US. 
  • This kind of thinking is not only historically questionable, but it also drastically underestimates the potential for space colonization to teach unwanted lessons. 

For example, inhabitants on Mars may embrace dictatorial or totalitarian forms of government in order to live under the instantly deadly circumstances. 

  • Instead of fueling democratic culture, the outcome may be an exercise in human misery. 

The tenebrous nature of these rationales serves as the foundation for the essay's positive goal, which is to articulate and defend the worth of space research. 

The first (and most philosophically technical) job is to provide a case for the inherent worth of scientific knowledge and comprehension. 

  • In this paper, I address various disputes in current epistemology about the value of knowledge and understanding. 
  • The value of knowledge is mainly determined by the value of genuine belief, while the value of understanding is determined by the value of true belief as well as the value of cognitive accomplishment. 

The main challenge at hand is to defend the inherent worth of both genuine belief and cognitive accomplishment. 

  • I propose that each value may be proved using a broadly naturalistic method to explaining intrinsic value attributions, according to which an item is intrinsically valuable when it is appreciated for its own sake as part of the best explanation of a scientifically involved activity. 
  • This test is passed when genuine beliefs and cognitive accomplishments are valued for their own sake. 

True beliefs and cognitive accomplishments, in particular those linked to science in general and space science in particular, are therefore inherently valued. 

  • We must take up the challenge of defending the practical usefulness of scientific knowledge and comprehension. 

Increases in scientific knowledge and understanding contribute to societal development, according to the underlying premise. 

  • Furthermore, scientific exploration and study have a significant role in increasing scientific knowledge and comprehension. 
  • This is because scientific inquiry is essential for gathering new data and evaluating current scientific ideas, concepts, and hypotheses. 

Because space exploration is a kind of scientific exploration that is particularly likely to contribute to scientific advancement, it is implicated. 

Also, the importance of democratic governments' obligations to fund scientific research. 

I argue that democratic governments have a responsibility to promote scientific research when it promises to contribute to the democratic process in particular, significant ways, based on recent work in social epistemology and political science.

  • Through many instances, space science contributes significantly to the democratic process and, as a result, should be promoted by democratic governments. 
  • In discussions concerning the logic and scope of planetary preservation measures, we need to talk about the importance of science. 

Contamination of the space environment by biological and other agents poses distinct difficulties. 

We can't rule out the possibility that any possible finding of alien life is a very costly false positive until we can be certain that Mars or other places haven't been polluted by terrestrial species. 

  • As a result, different rules are implemented by space projects to reduce the danger of contaminating areas of interest in the hunt for alien life. 
  • However, it has only been acknowledged in the last three decades that anything of ethical importance might be on the line. 
  • Perhaps planetary protection is required, not only for the purpose of the scientific quest for life in space, but also for the sake of any indigenous life that may be discovered in these settings, even if it is just microbial in nature. 

Arguments have been made that any alien life discovered would be inherently valuable, and that therefore protecting this worth is the ultimate goal of planetary protection. 

  • While I will reply to some of the objections leveled at these arguments, I believe that a focus on preserving alien life for its own sake narrows the scope of what should be stated regarding planetary preservation ethics. 
  • The intrinsic and instrumental values of knowledge and understanding that may be produced via scientific study of the space environment are among the other values that must be safeguarded in the space environment. 

We owe it to future generations to protect possibilities for scientific exploration and study that advance our knowledge and understanding of the space environment. 

This highlights a far wider responsibility to safeguard the space environment from contamination or disturbance, since much more than astrobiology and the hunt for alien life is at risk. 

Any space habitat, planet, moon, or other celestial body has piqued the attention of the space sciences as a whole. 

  • Because scientific exploration is most successful in pristine settings, we should presume that space habitats are of interest to research unless the contrary is proved. 
  • We need to talk about how my perspective on the importance of space research and planetary preservation fits into a discussion of two topics that are presently getting a lot of attention in public debates about space exploration: space resource exploitation and space colonization. 
  • I believe that space scientific goals should take precedence over commercial exploitation of space and its resources, and that we should reject any efforts to modify or replace the Outer Space Treaty, which is considered to ban commercial use of space resources. 

Those advocating for regulatory relaxation often argue that development of space resources would save mankind from the many costs connected with terrestrial pollution and resource depletion. 

  • The aim is that by using space resources, such as those found on the Moon and near-Earth asteroids, we will be able to supply mankind with more raw materials and energy while also relocating polluting industry into space. 
  • Against this, I argue that there are significant limitations on the amount of space resources that may be accessed. 

While the resources of space are staggeringly enormous in theory, they are non-renewable and restricted in reality. 

  • According to current study, the total volume of water that might be melted from lunar polar ice, as well as all of the water that could be mined from asteroids that are as energetically accessible as the Moon, is only approximately 3.7 km. 
  • This contradicts the idea that space resources are unlimited or capable of relieving us of the need to fight pollution and resource depletion on Earth. 

While we have a significant social responsibility to prevent terrestrial contamination and alleviate the consequences of resource depletion on the ground, we cannot successfully meet this commitment by exploiting space resources. 

As a result, this is a use of space that we should forego for the time being in favor of our duty to maintain space for scientific research. 

Against space colonization, there is a fundamentally comparable space scientific defense. 

  • The seeming need to seek permanent, self-sustaining space colonies is motivated by a strong responsibility: the need to guarantee the long-term survival of the human species—or, as Tony Milligan puts it, the duty to prolong human existence. 
  • There are two types of arguments here: an in-principle argument that says space colonization is eventually essential for extending human life, and a pressing argument that says space settlement is urgently important for prolonging human life. 

I agree with the in-principle conclusion and defend it against various arguments, including those that throw doubt on the existence of a moral duty to prolong human life. 

However, I will argue that space colonization is not required immediately (i.e., in the near future) since most significant risks to human survival (asteroid collisions, ecological collapse, and so on) may be handled more effectively via other methods. 

For example, if you want to reduce the danger of human extinction due to an asteroid collision, the greatest thing you can do is increase financing for asteroid detection and diversion programs. 

This would not only reduce the danger of human extinction more effectively, but it would also be considerably less expensive. 

We can maintain the space environment for scientific research for the time being since there is no urgent or imminent need to settle space. 

  • However, space colonies will be required in the long run, which raises the issue of whether future generations of space-dwellers should be subjected to the circumstances of life in a space colony. 
  • In most cases, life in space will include living in artificial habitats (which would be necessary to protect settlers from the intensely hostile environments found throughout the Solar System). 

Life in a space habitat, in contrast to living on Earth, would be extremely limiting, both physically and emotionally, and would provide inhabitants with minimal privacy and limited options for education, profession, and sexual relationship. 

  • This exposes space colony as potentially exploitative of those born into the community, who may have no option but to live in inhumane circumstances. 

As a result, one of the criteria for morally acceptable space colonization is that the settlers can offer sufficient assurances that their offspring would not be subjected to undue exploitation. 

  • In the epilogue, I re-emphasize the significance of research and provide a short discussion of how loosening some assumptions (about time horizons and technological capabilities) may impact our space responsibilities. 
  • What emerges from this is the lasting significance of scientific research—not only for current civilizations, but also for any future society that may arise in the space environment. 

Scientific knowledge and understanding are very useful to anybody interested in establishing and maintaining human existence in space, regardless of their inherent worth. 

Indeed, the democratic argument for funding scientific research is much stronger in the case of space civilizations, which will be far more reliant on research for survival and development. 

  • As a result, scientific information and insight, particularly that gained via space travel, will continue to be valuable to human civilization. 
  • When it comes to choices regarding spaceflight funding priorities, spaceflight mission goals, and legislative and other policy efforts, science is and should remain the most important stakeholder. 

Commercial spaceflight has a lot of promise for lowering launch costs and increasing payload capacity. 

  • However, it should be encouraged to remain a handmaiden to the space sciences rather than being pushed to become an invasive species that competes for resources with space research. 

As a result, I hope that this article serves as a compelling, enlightening, and philosophically satisfying foundation for reclaiming the attention that space science seems to have lost to the "New Space" movement, but that it well deserves.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Exploration, Space Missions and Systems here.

Quantum Cryptography - What Is Quantum Cryptography? How Does It Work?

Quantum cryptography makes use of unique quantum characteristics of nature to complete a cryptographic job. 

Most quantum cryptography algorithms are information theoretically safe (at least in theory), which is a very strong concept of security since it is derived only from information theory. 

Early attempts to utilize quantum characteristics for security reasons may be traced back to the 1970s, when Wiesner attempted to produce unfalsifiable bank notes. 

However, these concepts seemed to be impractical, since they required the storage of a single polarized photon for days without loss (at the time, photon polarization was the only conceived carrier of quantum information). 

Bennett and Brassard made the breakthrough in 1983, when they discovered that photons are better utilized to convey quantum information rather than to store it. 

  • They might, for example, be used to convey a random secret key from a sender to a recipient, who would then be able to encrypt and decode sensitive communications using the key. 
  • Bennett and Brassard released the first quantum key distribution (QKD) protocol, dubbed the BB84 protocol, shortly after. 

A QKD protocol allows two parties to create a shared secret key using an unsecured quantum channel and a public classical channel that has been authenticated. 

  • Since then, a slew of new protocols have been suggested – and implemented – propelling QKD to the forefront of quantum cryptography and one of the most important applications of quantum information science. 
  • Furthermore, driven by growing concerns about data security and the possibility of commercialization, quantum cryptography research has drawn the interest of a number of businesses, private organizations, and governments.


In reality, quantum cryptography solutions are being offered by an increasing number of businesses and startups across the globe. 

  • In the long run, scientists want to build large-scale quantum networks that will allow safe communication between any subset of users in the network due to quantum entanglement. 
  • In a wider sense, similar networks may be connected together to form a quantum internet, which could be used for much more than secure communication, such as safe access to distant quantum computers. 

Quantum cryptography elegantly integrates concepts and contributions from a variety of disciplines, including quantum information and quantum communication, as well as computer science and conventional encryption. 

  • The interaction of these disparate disciplines leads to theoretical breakthroughs that are of wide interest and transferable to other areas of study. 
  • However, since quantum cryptography, and in particular QKD, has a considerable economic appeal, ongoing research is also driven by more practical goals. 

For example, combined theoretical and practical efforts are continuously dedicated to: improving the key-generation rates, simplifying the experimental setups, and so on by focusing on an unique QKD protocol that has lately garnered a lot of attention from the scientific community and is widely regarded as the new standard for long-distance QKD in fiber. 

Twinfield (TF) QKD is a technique that enables two parties to create a secret key across vast distances using single-photon interferometric measurements in an intermediary relay. 

  • In this context, we use current theoretical findings and simulations to examine practical TF-QKD implementations in depth. 
  • With bipartite QKD connections becoming the norm at many research institutions and field deployments across the globe, the next major step would be to join these isolated links into quantum networks to conduct more complex multi-user activities. 
  • The extension of QKD to many users using multipartite QKD, also known as quantum conference key agreement (CKA), is undoubtedly a logical application of future quantum networks. 

When a confidential communication has to be securely broadcast among a group of users, the CKA protocol is used. 

  • The users share a shared secret key—the conference key—with which they may encrypt and decode the secret message when they utilize the CKA protocol. 

In this section, CKA plays a significant part. 

  • We provide an understandable description of CKA's evolution from current QKD protocols to expose the reader to it. 
  • We extend QKD's security architecture to incorporate CKA and concentrate on a multipartite variant of the widely used BB84 protocol. 
  • We also go through some of the most recent experimental implementations of CKA protocols, with a focus on the multipartite BB84 protocol. 
  • We describe a new CKA technique based on the TF-QKD operating principle, in which several users distil a conference key via single-photon interference events. 
  • We demonstrate that the protocol outperforms prior CKA schemes over long distances thanks to this feature, since it uses a W-class state as its entanglement resource instead of the traditional GHZ state.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Quantum Computing here.

What Is Post-Quantum Cryptography?

Cryptography after the Quantum Era (PQC). 

In the last decade, significant developments in quantum computing have reassured the scientific community of the need to develop quantum-resistant cryptosystems. 

  • Quantum computers represent a danger to conventional public-key encryption based on number theory, thus Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC) has emerged as the preferable alternative (i.e., integer factorization or discrete logarithms). 

Cryptosystems that are safe against assaults launched on classical computers and possibly quantum computers may be designed using:


      1. lattice-based cryptography, 
      2. multivariate cryptography, 
      3. hash-based cryptography schemes, 
      4. isogeny-based cryptography, 
      5. and code-based encryption. 

  • As a result, these methods are known as PQC (Post Quantum Cryptography) algorithms. 

Cryptography methods based on lattices are easy to build and provide a solid demonstration of security. 

  • The shortest vector problem (SVP), which involves estimating the minimum Euclidean length of a lattice vector for any basis, is the foundation of lattice-based encryption. 
  • The worst-case quantum polynomial time to solve SVP is approximately exp(O(√ n)).  
  • SVP's complexity is polynomial in n even with the processing capability of a quantum computer. 
  • One of the numerous issues in the lattice family is Short Integer Solutions (SIS). 
  • If the SVP is difficult in the worst situation, SIS issues are secure in the average scenario. 

The fundamental assumptions of code-based cryptography systems are that the generator matrix and random matrix are indistinguishable and that generic decoding is difficult. 

  • Because they are based on a well-studied issue, these methods take a conservative approach to public key encryption/key encapsulation. 
  • If the key size is decreased, this class of algorithms becomes susceptible. 
  • Researchers have proposed methods for reducing key size without jeopardizing security. 
  • The complexity of solving the finite field multivariate polynomial (MVP) problem inspires multivariate cryptography. 

MVP issues are NP-hard to solve. 

  • MVPs are NP-complete problems if all equations are quadratic over GF. 
  • Despite the fact that certain MVP-based methods have been proven to be weak, the PQC signature technique provides for competitive signature sizes. 
  • The security characteristics of the underlying symmetric primitives, particularly cryptographic hash functions, are used to create hash-based digital signatures (leveraging properties of collision resistance and second pre-image resistance). 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) stated in that it will launch a standardization project to establish quantum-resistant standards for Key Encapsulation Mechanism (KEM) and Public Key Encryption (PKE), as well as digital signatures. 

NIST specified five distinct security strengths directly linked to NIST standards in symmetric cryptography in the request for proposals: Security Level : 

  1. Algorithm is at least as difficult to crack as AES (but it is less quantum resistant—Exhaustive Key Search). 
  2. Algorithm is at least as difficult to crack as SHA (strong in terms of quantum resistance—Collision Search). 
  3. Algorithm is at least as difficult to crack as AES (and is stronger in terms of quantum resistance—Exhaustive Key Search). 
  4. Algorithm is at least as difficult to crack as SHA (very strong quantum resistance—Collision Search). 
  5. Algorithm is at least as difficult to crack as AES (the strongest in terms of quantum resistance—Exhaustive Key Search). 

The NIST PQC Competition's first round began in December and received entries, from which digital signature contenders and KEM/PKE methods were selected. 

  • The NIST PQC Competition's second round candidates were revealed in January: digital signature candidates and KEM/PQC schemes. 
  • Just as the current work is going to print, NIST has officially announced a third cycle, which will begin in June. 

The Table below summarizes the round candidates, associated scheme, and NIST security level mapping.(Click through to zoom in)

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Quantum Computing here.

Quantum Computing Keywords

We can start to focus in on qubit modalities by composing a working quantum computing vocabulary:

Table Of Contents
What Are Qubits?
What Is A Universal Quantum Computer?
What Is Quantum Annealing?
What Is Quantum Speedup?
What Is Quantum Edge?
What Is Quantum Supremacy?
What Is A Bloch Sphere?
What Is Coherence in Quantum Computing?
What Is DiVincenzo Criteria?
What Is Quantum Entanglement?
What Is Measurement In Quantum Computing?
What Are Quantum Dots?
What Is Quantum Error Correction?
What Is Quantum Indeterminacy?
What Is Quantum Tunneling?
What Is Superposition?
What Is Teleportation In Quantum Computing?
What Is A Topological Quantum Computer?

What Are Qubits?

The quantum equivalent of conventional digital bits are qubits (quantum bits). 

  • The qubits are in a state of superposition and operate on quantum mechanics principles. 
  • To alter the state of the qubits, we must use quantum mechanics concepts. 
  • We can measure the state of the qubits at the conclusion of the computation by projecting them into conventional digital bits. 

What Is A Universal Quantum Computer?

A Quantum Turing Machine, also known as a Universal Quantum Computer, is an abstract machine that is used to simulate the effects of a quantum computer. 

  • Any quantum algorithm may be described formally as a particular quantum Turing Machine, similar to the conventional Turing Machine. 

Quantum states defined in Hilbert space are used to represent internal states. 

  • In Hilbert space, the transition function is a collection of unitary matrices. 

What Is Quantum Annealing?

Quantum Fluctuations are used to discover a heuristic method that finds a global minimum from a limited collection of candidate solutions. 

  • Quantum Annealing may be used to tackle combinatorial optimization problems having a discrete search space with multiple local minima, such as the traveling salesman problem. 
  • The system begins with the quantum parallelism superposition of all possible states and evolves using the time-dependent Schrodinger equation. 
  • The amplitudes of all states may be altered by changing the transverse field (a magnetic field perpendicular to the axis of the qubit), resulting in Quantum Tunneling between them. 

The aim is to maintain the system as near to the Hamiltonian's ground state as possible. 

  • The system achieves its ground state when the transverse field is eventually switched off, which corresponds to the solution of the optimization issue. 
  • D-Wave Systems exhibited the first Quantum Annealer in 2011. 

What Is Quantum Speedup?

This is the best-case situation, in which no classical algorithm can outperform a quantum algorithm. 

  • There are a few quantum algorithms that have a polynomial speedup in addition to factorization and discrete logarithms. 
  • Grover's algorithm is one such algorithm. 

There have been reports on simulation methods for physical processes in quantum chemistry and solid-state physics. 

  • The main ideal problem in polynomial time and an approximation method for Jones polynomial with a polynomial speedup and a solution to Pells' equation have been presented. 
  • This area is changing. 

What Is Quantum Edge?

Quantum computers have a computational advantage. 

  • The idea that quantum computers can execute certain calculations more quickly than traditional computers. 

What Is Quantum Supremacy? 

Quantum computers' prospective capacity to tackle issues that conventional computers can't. 

  • Decoherence is the process by which the quantum information in a qubit is lost over time as a result of interactions with the environment. 
  • Quantum Volume is a practical method to track and compare progress toward lower system-wide gate error rates for quantum computing and error correction operations in the near future. 
  • It's a single-number metric that a concrete protocol can measure with a quantum computer of modest size n <=50 in the near future.

What Is A Bloch Sphere?

The Bloch sphere, named after scientist Felix Bloch, is a geometrical representation of the pure state space of a two-level quantum mechanical system (qubit) in quantum mechanics. 

  • Antipodal points correspond to a pair of mutually orthogonal state vectors on the Bloch sphere, which is a unit sphere. 

The Bloch Sphere's interpretation is as follows: 

  • The poles represent classical bits, and the notation |0 and |1 is used to denote them. 
  • Unlike conventional bit representation, where these are the only conceivable states, quantum bits span the whole sphere. 
  • As a result, quantum bits contain a lot more information, as shown by the Bloch sphere. 
  • When a qubit is measured, one of the two poles collapses. 

Which of the two poles collapses depends on which direction the arrow in the Bloch representation points: 

  • if the arrow is closer to the north pole, there is a greater chance of collapsing to that pole; similarly, 
  • if the arrow is closer to the south pole, there is a greater chance of collapsing to that pole. 

This adds the concept of probability to the Bloch sphere: 

  • the angle of the arrow with the vertical axes correlates to that probability. 
  • If the arrow points to the equator, each pole has a 50/50 probability of collapsing.

What Is Coherence in Quantum Computing?

A qubit's coherence is defined as its capacity to sustain superposition across time. 

  • It is therefore the lack of "decoherence," which is defined as any process that collapses a quantum state into a classical one, such as contact with the environment.

What Is  DiVincenzo Criteria?

The DiVincenzo criteria are a set of requirements for building a quantum computer that were originally suggested by theoretical physicist David P. DiVincenzo in his article "The Physical Implementation of Quantum Computation" in 2000. 

The DiVincenzo criteria are a collection of 5+2 requirements that must be met by an experimental setup in order to effectively execute quantum algorithms like Grover's search algorithm or Shor factorization. 

To perform quantum communication, such as that utilized in quantum key distribution, the two additional requirements are required.

1 – A physically scalable system with well-defined qubits.

2 – The ability to set the qubits' states to a simple fiducial state.

3 – Long decoherence periods that are relevant.

4 – A set of quantum gates that is “universal.”

5 – A measuring capability unique to qubits.

6 — Interconversion of stationary and flying qubits.

7 – The capacity to reliably transfer flying qubits between two points.

What Is Quantum Entanglement?

Quantum entanglement is a unique relationship that exists between two qubits. 

  • Entanglement may be created in a variety of ways. 
  • One method is to entangle two qubits by bringing them close together, performing an operation on them, and then moving them apart again. 
  • You may move them arbitrarily far away from each other after they're entangled, and they'll stay intertwined. 

The results of measurements on these qubits will reflect this entanglement. 

  • When measured, these qubits will always provide a random result of zero or one, regardless of how far apart they are. 

The first characteristic of entanglement is that it cannot be shared, which allows all of the applications that are derived from it to be created. 

  • If two qubits are maximally entangled, no other person in the universe may share their entanglement. 
  • The monogamy of entanglement is the name given to this feature.

Maximum coordination is the second characteristic of entanglement that gives it its strength. 

  • When the qubits are measured, this characteristic is shown. 
  • When two entangled qubits are measured in the same basis, no matter how far apart they are, the result is always the same. 
  • This result is not predetermined; rather, it is entirely random and determined at the time of measurement.

What Is Measurement In Quantum Computing?

The act of seeing a quantum state is known as measurement. 

  • This observation will provide traditional data, such as a bit. 
  • It's essential to remember that the quantum state will change as a result of this measurement procedure. 

If the state is in superposition, for example, this measurement will cause it to ‘collapse' into a classical state: zero or one. 

  • This process of collapsing occurs at random. 
  • There is no way of knowing what the result will be until the measurement is completed. 
  • However, the chance of each result may be calculated. 

This probability is a prediction about the quantum state that we can test by preparing it many times, measuring it, and calculating the percentage of each result.

What Are Quantum Dots?

Quantum dots may be thought of as "manufactured atoms." 

  • They are semiconductor nanocrystals in which an electron-hole pair may be trapped. 
  • Because the nanoscale size is equivalent to the wavelength of light, the electron may occupy distinct energy levels, exactly as in an atom. 
  • The dots may be encased in a photonic crystal cavity and probed with laser light.

What Is Quantum Error Correction?

Quantum computers are always in touch with the outside world. This environment has the potential to disrupt the system's computational state, resulting in data loss. 

  • Quantum error correction compensates for this loss by distributing the system's computational state over multiple qubits in an entangled state. 
  • Outside classical observers may detect and correct perturbations using this entanglement without having to see the computational state directly, which would collapse it.

What Is Quantum Indeterminacy?

The basic condition of existence, backed up by all empirical evidence, in which an isolated quantum system, like as a free electron, does not have fixed characteristics until those attributes are seen in experiments intended to quantify them. 

  • That is, unless those characteristics are measured, a particle does not have a particular mass, location, velocity, or spin. 
  • Indeed, the particle does not exist until it is seen in a strict sense.

What Is Quantum Tunneling?

Due to the wave-like nature of particles, quantum tunneling is a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which particles have a limited chance of overcoming an energy barrier or transiting through an energy state usually prohibited by classical physics. 

  • A particle's probability wave reflects the likelihood of locating the particle in a certain place, and there is a limited chance that the particle is on the opposite side of the barrier.

What Is Superposition?

Quantum physics' basic premise is superposition. 

  • It asserts that quantum states, like waves in classical physics, may be joined together – superposed – to produce a new valid quantum state, and that every quantum state can be seen as a linear combination, a sum of other unique quantum states.

What Is Teleportation In Quantum Computing?

Quantum teleportation is a technique that uses entanglement to transmit qubits. 

  • The following is how teleportation works: 

    • Initially, Alice and Bob must create an entangled pair of qubits between them. 
    • Alice next conducts a measurement on the qubit she wishes to transmit as well as the qubit that is entangled with Bob's qubit. 
    • This measurement compresses the qubits and breaks the entanglement, but it also provides her with two classical outcomes in the form of two classical bits. 
    • Alice transmits these two traditional bits to Bob over the traditional Internet. 
    • Bob next applies to his qubit a rectification operation that is based on these two classical bits. 
    • As a result, he is able to reclaim the qubit that was previously in Alice's control. 

It's worth noting that we've now sent a qubit without really utilizing a physical carrier capable of doing so. 

To accomplish this, you'll need entanglement, of course. 

It's also worth noting that quantum teleportation doesn't allow for communication faster than the speed of light. 

  • This is because Bob will not be able to make sense of the qubit she has in her hands until he receives the classical measurement results from Alice. 
  • The transmission of these traditional measurement results must take a certain length of time. 
  • This time is also constrained by the speed of light.

What Is A Topological Quantum Computer?

A topological quantum computer is a theoretical quantum computer that uses anyons, which are two-dimensional quasiparticles whose world lines intersect to create braided in a three-dimensional spacetime (i.e., one temporal plus two spatial dimensions). 

  • The logic gates that make up the computer are formed by these strands. 
  • The benefit of utilizing quantum braiding over trapped quantum particles in a quantum computer is that the former is considerably more stable. 
  • Small, cumulative perturbations may cause quantum states to decohere and create mistakes in computations, but they have no effect on the topological characteristics of the braiding. 
  • This is comparable to the work needed to cut a string and reconnect the ends to create a new braid, rather than a ball (representing an ordinary quantum particle in four-dimensional spacetime) colliding with a wall. 

In 1997, Alexei Kitaev suggested topological quantum computing.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

You may also want to read more about Quantum Computing here.

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