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Title: CAFQA: Clifford Ansatz For Quantum Accuracy
Variational Quantum Algorithms (VQAs) rely upon the iterative optimization of a parameterized unitary circuit with respect to an objective function. Since quantum machines are noisy and expensive resources, it is imperative to choose a VQA's ansatz appropriately and its initial parameters to be close to optimal. This work tackles the problem of finding initial ansatz parameters by proposing CAFQA, a Clifford ansatz for quantum accuracy. The CAFQA ansatz is a hardware-efficient circuit built with only Clifford gates. In this ansatz, the initial parameters for the tunable gates are chosen by searching efficiently through the Clifford parameter space via classical simulation, thereby producing a suitable stabilizer state. The stabilizer states produced are shown to always equal or outperform traditional classical initialization (e.g., Hartree-Fock), and often produce high accuracy estimations prior to quantum exploration. Furthermore, the technique is classically suited since a) Clifford circuits can be exactly simulated classically in polynomial time and b) the discrete Clifford space, while scaling exponentially in the number of qubits, is searched efficiently via Bayesian Optimization. For the Variational Quantum Eigensolver (VQE) task of molecular ground state energy estimation up to 20 qubits, CAFQA's Clifford Ansatz achieves a mean accuracy of near 99%, recovering as much as 99.99% more » of the correlation energy over Hartree-Fock. Notably, the scalability of the approach allows for preliminary ground state energy estimation of the challenging Chromium dimer with an accuracy greater than Hartree-Fock. With CAFQA's initialization, VQA convergence is accelerated by a factor of 2.5x. In all, this work shows that stabilizer states are an accurate ansatz initialization for VQAs. Furthermore, it highlights the potential for quantum-inspired classical techniques to support VQAs. « less
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