Variational Quantum Information Processing
Romero Fontalvo, Jhonathan
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CitationRomero Fontalvo, Jhonathan. 2019. Variational Quantum Information Processing. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractTraditional quantum algorithms with guaranteed performance generally require fully coherent quantum computers to operate, making error-correction a necessity. In contrast, variational quantum algorithms seek to remove this requirement by formulating the computation as the approximate optimization of a functional. This optimization is carried out in the space of heuristic functions defined by a parameterized (variational) quantum circuit. Taking advantage of the flexibility in the definition of these heuristics, we can expand the operability of variational algorithms within the regime of coherence times of noisy intermediate-scale quantum devices, avoiding the necessity of error-correction. In this dissertation, we present the application of the variational quantum computing approach to problems in quantum simulation, quantum state preparation, quantum error-correction, and generative modeling.
In the first part, we investigate the use of the variational quantum eigensolver (VQE) for simulating the ground state of fermionic systems. We start by studying the implementation of VQE using the unitary coupled cluster (UCC) ansatz and propose strategies to reduce its cost. We use these insights to carry out some of the first experimental quantum computations of molecular energies using simplified versions of this ansatz. We also propose an extension of UCC to study problems in condensed matter physics, along with a new low-depth circuit ansatz for preparing non-gaussian fermionic states on quantum computers. We show the potential of our approach to describe strongly correlated fermionic systems.
In the second part, we develop three new variational quantum algorithms for problems in quantum computing and machine learning, namely: 1) the quantum autoencoder, to compress ensembles of quantum states, 2) the variational quantum error corrector, to find device-tailored quantum encoding and recovery circuits for quantum error correction, and 3) the variational quantum generator, to generate classical probability distributions. These techniques offer efficient ways to design new quantum circuits for state preparation, to find more effective error-correcting codes and to perform generative modeling with quantum computers. Our work provides insights into the design of variational quantum algorithms and establishes practical guidelines to implement these methods on near-term quantum computers, as well as some future research directions for this field.
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