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  1. Abstract Variational quantum circuits (VQCs) have shown great potential in near-term applications. However, the discriminative power of a VQC, in connection to its circuit architecture and depth, is not understood. To unleash the genuine discriminative power of a VQC, we propose a VQC system with the optimal classical post-processing—maximum-likelihood estimation on measuring all VQC output qubits. Via extensive numerical simulations, we find that the error of VQC quantum data classification typically decays exponentially with the circuit depth, when the VQC architecture is extensive—the number of gates does not shrink with the circuit depth. This fast error suppression ends at the saturation towards the ultimate Helstrom limit of quantum state discrimination. On the other hand, non-extensive VQCs such as quantum convolutional neural networks are sub-optimal and fail to achieve the Helstrom limit, demonstrating a trade-off between ansatz complexity and classification performance in general. To achieve the best performance for a given VQC, the optimal classical post-processing is crucial even for a binary classification problem. To simplify VQCs for near-term implementations, we find that utilizing the symmetry of the input properly can improve the performance, while oversimplification can lead to degradation.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 6, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Quantum Approximate Optimization algorithm (QAOA) aims to search for approximate solutions to discrete optimization problems with near-term quantum computers. As there are no algorithmic guarantee possible for QAOA to outperform classical computers, without a proof that bounded-error quantum polynomial time (BQP) ≠ nondeterministic polynomial time (NP), it is necessary to investigate the empirical advantages of QAOA. We identify a computational phase transition of QAOA when solving hard problems such as SAT—random instances are most difficult to train at a critical problem density. We connect the transition to the controllability and the complexity of QAOA circuits. Moreover, we find that the critical problem density in general deviates from the SAT-UNSAT phase transition, where the hardest instances for classical algorithms lies. Then, we show that the high problem density region, which limits QAOA’s performance in hard optimization problems (reachability deficits), is actually a good place to utilize QAOA: its approximation ratio has a much slower decay with the problem density, compared to classical approximate algorithms. Indeed, it is exactly in this region that quantum advantages of QAOA over classical approximate algorithms can be identified.