Quantum computing has been making remarkable strides, not only in hardware development but also in the creation of pioneering algorithms and applications. Today, AWS has unveiled a groundbreaking study titled “Quantum algorithms: A survey of applications and end-to-end complexities,” aiming to provide invaluable insights for early adopters of quantum computing.
This study serves as a valuable addition to the arsenal of tools available to those venturing into the realm of quantum computing. It also highlights the steady progress being made in quantum algorithm and application development. As we move forward, it becomes increasingly apparent that a multitude of quantum algorithms and applications will soon be accessible for use on NISQ (noisy intermediate-scale quantum) devices, enabling early quantum advantage. Eventually, these algorithms will also find their place in fault-tolerant quantum computers, once they become available.
The timeline for achieving early quantum advantage is still subject to ongoing debate. However, recent presentations by IBM and IonQ at the HPC & AI on Wall Street conference suggested that a realistic target would be within the next 24-36 months on NISQ devices. The arrival of fully fault-tolerant quantum computers, on the other hand, is expected to take several more years.
Sam McArdle and Alexander Dalzell, quantum researchers at AWS, explain in a blog post that the survey primarily focuses on quantum algorithms with the potential to generate long-term customer value once fault-tolerant quantum computers are accessible. Nevertheless, it also provides insights into relevant near-term NISQ algorithms. For those interested, AWS has made the full survey available as a preprint paper on arXiv.
The survey is structured in a wiki-like format, encouraging a modular approach to each step of the quantum algorithm journey. It is divided into several parts, each contributing to a comprehensive overview:
1. Areas of Application: The survey delves into various fields of application, such as quantum chemistry, physics, optimization, cryptanalysis, differential equations, finance, and machine learning. It outlines the goals of customers in these areas, along with specific computational tasks that could benefit from quantum computation. Additionally, it highlights the complexity of quantum solutions and provides a comparison to state-of-the-art classical solutions, emphasizing the need for superiority in order to realize the potential of quantum computers.
2. Algorithmic Primitives: Quantum linear algebra, Hamiltonian simulation, quantum linear system solvers, amplitude amplification, and phase estimation are just a few examples of the building blocks of quantum algorithms. The survey explains the inner workings of these primitives, their resource requirements, and important considerations when using them in combination. Understanding these key nuances is crucial for designers aiming to optimize quantum algorithms effectively.
3. Fault-Tolerant Quantum Computation: Since existing noisy intermediate-scale devices are incapable of successfully executing the discussed algorithms, the survey assumes that fault-tolerant implementations will be necessary. However, fault tolerance comes with significant computational overhead. The survey provides an overview of the theory behind fault-tolerant quantum computation and explores leading proposals on how to implement algorithms in this manner. It also sheds light on the computation of the associated overheads, enabling a comprehensive end-to-end resource analysis.
McArdle and Dalzell emphasize the importance of consolidating valuable insights and knowledge scattered across different quantum algorithms and applications. The survey serves as a centralized repository for this information, enabling researchers to gain a holistic understanding of quantum algorithms. Their vision is to cultivate a collaborative environment within the quantum computing community, where this survey becomes a vital resource for future advancements.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Q: What is the purpose of the AWS survey on quantum algorithms?
A: The survey aims to provide early adopters of quantum computing with valuable insights into potential applications and complexities of quantum algorithms, both in the present and future.
Q: How is the survey structured?
A: The survey is divided into sections focusing on areas of application, algorithmic primitives, and fault-tolerant quantum computation. Each section provides detailed information, including the goals of customers, specific computational tasks, resource requirements, and comparisons to classical solutions.
Q: What is the significance of fault-tolerant quantum computation?
A: Fault tolerance is essential for executing algorithms on future fault-tolerant quantum computers. The survey explores different proposals and provides guidance on estimating the resources required for fault-tolerant implementation.
Q: How can the survey benefit the quantum computing community?
A: By consolidating key insights from various quantum algorithms and applications, the survey serves as a valuable resource for researchers, promoting a holistic understanding of quantum algorithms and fostering future advancements.