For any industry that uses large amounts of data to accelerate real-time business intelligence, quantum computing is a game changer. For the banking sector, a computational speedup could be the much-needed solution to complex financial problems that are only getting more problematic. This is exactly where Amira Abbas comes in: with an undergraduate degree in actuarial science, Abbas went to work in the finance industry and came across artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Still on the lookout for something that would satisfy her intellectual curiosity, she found the emerging field of quantum computing and wondered how quantum physics could help reshape AI and ML.
“I immediately knew that this was the field in which I wanted to pursue a career,” Abbas recalls. “I wrote to some universities and colleges and, coincidentally, in my hometown, there was a quantum research group at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) doing exactly this research – quantum computing and machine learning. It was the birth of quantum machine learning and I was so happy to find something that encompassed all the things I love.”
UKZN’s Centre for Quantum Technology is globally competitive, with research output comparable to top universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University.
At UKZN, Abbas delved into research on how quantum computers could help financial applications such as pricing derivatives.
Currently, there’s a lot of research being carried out around the world on quantum finance – Goldman Sachs, Barclays and JP INSIGHT OUT OF THE LABS Morgan Chase have all stepped up their research into quantum computing to solve more complex finance problems. According to Abbas’ research, there are two things that a quantum computer is theoretically very good at when it comes to finance: optimisation of tasks and speeding things up.
Article by Tiana Cline.