Real World Quantum Computing in the Presence of Noise

Cover of Nature, 2023-06-15:

IBM reports their 127 qubit quantum computer solving a real-world problem (two-dimensional Ising model) faster than a classical supercomputer in the paper, “Evidence for the utility of quantum computing before fault tolerance” (full text [PDF]). Here is the abstract.

Quantum computing promises to offer substantial speed-ups over its classical counterpart for certain problems. However, the greatest impediment to realizing its full potential is noise that is inherent to these systems. The widely accepted solution to this challenge is the implementation of fault-tolerant quantum circuits, which is out of reach for current processors. Here we report experiments on a noisy 127-qubit processor and demonstrate the measurement of accurate expectation values for circuit volumes at a scale beyond brute-force classical computation. We argue that this represents evidence for the utility of quantum computing in a pre-fault-tolerant era. These experimental results are enabled by advances in the coherence and calibration of a superconducting processor at this scale and the ability to characterize and controllably manipulate noise across such a large device. We establish the accuracy of the measured expectation values by comparing them with the output of exactly verifiable circuits. In the regime of strong entanglement, the quantum computer provides correct results for which leading classical approximations such as pure-state-based 1D (matrix product states, MPS) and 2D (isometric tensor network states, isoTNS) tensor network methods break down. These experiments demonstrate a foundational tool for the realization of near-term quantum applications.

In the absence of quantum error correction, they use a technique called “error mitigation” to model and then subtract out errors in the quantum computation process.