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QTI SEMINAR: Does provable absence of barren plateaus imply classical simulability? Or, why we need to rethink variational quantum computing

by Zoe Holmes (EPFL)

513/R-068 (CERN)



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A large amount of effort has recently been put into understanding the barren plateau phenomenon. In this perspective article, we face the increasingly loud elephant in the room and ask a question that has been hinted at by many but not explicitly addressed: Can the structure that allows one to avoid barren plateaus also be leveraged to efficiently simulate the loss classically? We present strong evidence that commonly used models with provable absence of barren plateaus are also classically simulable, provided that one can collect some classical data from quantum devices during an initial data acquisition phase. This follows from the observation that barren plateaus result from a curse of dimensionality, and that current approaches for solving them end up encoding the problem into some small, classically simulable, subspaces. Thus, while stressing quantum computers can be essential for collecting data, our analysis sheds serious doubt on the non-classicality of the information processing capabilities of parametrized quantum circuits for barren plateau-free landscapes. We end by discussing caveats in our arguments, the role of smart initializations and the possibility of provably superpolynomial, or simply practical, advantages from running parametrized quantum circuits.
Organized by

Michele Grossi, Sofia Vallecorsa

Quantum Technology Initiative Journal Club
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Michele Grossi
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Su Yeon Chang
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