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Learning to learn with quantum neural networks via classical neural networks

Guillaume Verdon
Michael Broughton
Kevin Jeffery Sung
Zhang Jiang
Masoud Mohseni
arXiv:1907.05415 (2019)


Quantum Neural Networks (QNNs) are a promising variational learning paradigm with applications to near-term quantum processors, however they still face some significant challenges. One such challenge is finding good parameter initialization heuristics that ensure rapid and consistent convergence to local minima of the parameterized quantum circuit landscape. In this work, we train classical neural networks to assist in the quantum learning process, also know as meta-learning, to rapidly find approximate optima in the parameter landscape for several classes of quantum variational algorithms. Specifically, we train classical recurrent neural networks to find approximately optimal parameters within a small number of queries of the cost function for the Quantum Approximate Optimization Algorithm (QAOA) for MaxCut, QAOA for Sherrington-Kirkpatrick Ising model, and for a Variational Quantum Eigensolver for the Hubbard model. By initializing other optimizers at parameter values suggested by the classical neural network, we demonstrate a significant improvement in the total number of optimization iterations required to reach a given accuracy. We further demonstrate that the optimization strategies learned by the neural network generalize well across a range of problem instance sizes. This opens up the possibility of training on small, classically simulatable problem instances, in order to initialize larger, classically intractably simulatable problem instances on quantum devices, thereby significantly reducing the number of required quantum-classical optimization iterations.