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Decoding Quantum Errors Using Subspace Expansions

Zhang Jiang
Nature Communications, vol. 11 (2020), pp. 636


With the rapid developments in quantum hardware comes a push towards the first practical applications on these devices. While fully fault-tolerant quantum computers may still be years away, one may ask if there exist intermediate forms of error correction or mitigation that might enable practical applications before then. In this work, we consider the idea of post-processing error decoders using existing quantum codes, which are capable of mitigating errors on encoded logical qubits using classical post-processing with no complicated syndrome measurements or additional qubits beyond those used for the logical qubits. This greatly simplifies the experimental exploration of quantum codes on near-term devices, removing the need for locality of syndromes or fast feed-forward, allowing one to study performance aspects of codes on real devices. We provide a general construction equipped with a simple stochastic sampling scheme that does not depend explicitly on a number of terms that we extend to approximate projectors within a subspace. This theory then allows one to generalize to the correction of some logical errors in the code space, correction of some physical unencoded Hamiltonians without engineered symmetries, and corrections derived from approximate symmetries. In this work, we develop the theory of the method and demonstrate it on a simple example with the perfect [[5,1,3]] code, which exhibits a pseudo-threshold of p≈0.50 under a single qubit depolarizing channel applied to all qubits. We also provide a demonstration under the application of a logical operation and performance on an unencoded hydrogen molecule, which exhibits a significant improvement over the entire range of possible errors incurred under a depolarizing channel.

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