Quantum computers, just like classical computers, are only as good as the instructions that we give them. And although quantum computing is one of the hottest topics in science these days, the instructions, or algorithms, for quantum computers still have a long way to go to become useful. Garnet Chan, Caltech’s Bren Professor of Chemistry, is tackling this problem.
In a new paper, he describes how he, together with Fernando Brandao, Bren Professor of Theoretical Physics, and Austin Minnich, professor of mechanical engineering and applied physics, developed an algorithm for quantum computers that will help them find use in simulations in the physical sciences.
The algorithm is derived from one already in use in classical computing called imaginary time evolution. Chan’s new algorithm, tailored to run on quantum computers, has been fittingly dubbed quantum imaginary time evolution and allows a user to find the lowest energy of a given molecule or material.
We sat down with Chan to talk about his research and what it means for quantum computing.
In lay terms, what have you achieved with your new research?
There has been a lot of interest in what kind of problems a quantum computer can potentially help to solve in the physical sciences. One problem that many people are interested in is how to simulate the ground states of molecules and materials. Our new paper proposes a way to calculate ground states of Hamiltonians that runs on near-term quantum computers with very few resources.
Source: “Caltech researchers develop new quantum algorithm”, California Institute of Technology