Quantum annealing (QA) has been proposed as a quantum enhanced optimization heuristic exploiting tunneling. Here, we demonstrate how finite-range tunneling can provide considerable computational advantage. For a crafted problem designed to have tall and narrow energy barriers separating local minima, the D-Wave 2X quantum annealer achieves significant runtime advantages relative to simulated annealing (SA). For instances with 945 variables, this results in a time-to-99%-success-probability that is ~1e8 times faster than SA running on a single processor core. We also compare physical QA with the quantum Monte Carlo algorithm, an algorithm that emulates quantum tunneling on classical processors. We observe a substantial constant overhead against physical QA: D-Wave 2X again runs up to ~ 1e8 times faster than an optimized implementation of the quantum Monte Carlo algorithm on a single core. We note that there exist heuristic classical algorithms that can solve most instances of Chimera structured problems in a time scale comparable to the D-Wave 2X. However, it is well known that such solvers will become ineffective for sufficiently dense connectivity graphs. To investigate whether finite-range tunneling will also confer an advantage for problems of practical interest, we conduct numerical studies on binary optimization problems that cannot yet be represented on quantum hardware. For random instances of the number partitioning problem, we find numerically that algorithms designed to simulate QA scale better than SA. We discuss the implications of these findings for the design of next-generation quantum annealers.View details
Quantum tunnelling is a phenomenon in which a quantum state traverses energy barriers higher than the energy of the state itself. Quantum tunnelling has been hypothesized as an advantageous physical resource for optimization in quantum annealing. However, computational multiqubit tunnelling has not yet been observed, and a theory of co-tunnelling under high- and low-frequency noises is lacking. Here we show that 8-qubit tunnelling plays a computational role in a currently available programmable quantum annealer. We devise a probe for tunnelling, a computational primitive where classical paths are trapped in a false minimum. In support of the design of quantum annealers we develop a nonperturbative theory of open quantum dynamics under realistic noise characteristics. This theory accurately predicts the rate of many-body dissipative quantum tunnelling subject to the polaron effect. Furthermore, we experimentally demonstrate that quantum tunnelling outperforms thermal hopping along classical paths for problems with up to 200 qubits containing the computational primitive.View details
Quantum annealing is a heuristic quantum algorithm which exploits quantum resources to minimize an objective function embedded as the energy levels of a programmable physical system. To take advantage of a potential quantum advantage, one needs to be able to map the problem of interest to the native hardware with reasonably low overhead. Because experimental considerations constrain our objective function to take the form of a low degree PUBO (polynomial unconstrained binary optimization), we employ non-convex loss functions which are polynomial functions of the margin. We show that these loss functions are robust to label noise and provide a clear advantage over convex methods. These loss functions may also be useful for classical approaches as they compile to regularized risk expressions which can be evaluated in constant time with respect to the number of training examples.View details
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