A paper co-authored at the University of Strathclyde lays out a road map for the future of quantum simulation.
Quantum computers are enormously powerful devices with speed and calculation capabilities far beyond the capabilities of classical, or binary, computing. It operates on superpositions, which can be zeroes, ones, or both at the same time, rather than a binary system of zeroes and ones.
The ever-evolving development of quantum computing has led to an advantage over classical computers for an artificial problems. It may have future applications in a variety of fields. One promising class of problems involves the simulation of quantum systems, which has potential applications such as battery development, industrial catalysis, and nitrogen fixation.
The paper, published in Nature, investigates the near- and medium-term prospects for quantum simulation on analogue and digital platforms in order to assess the potential of this field. It was co-written by researchers from Strathclyde, the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, the Munich Center for Quantum Science and Technology, the University of Innsbruck, the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, and Microsoft Corporation.
The paper’s lead author is Professor Andrew Daley of Strathclyde’s Department of Physics. He claims that “In recent years, there has been a lot of exciting progress in analogue and digital quantum simulation, and quantum simulation is one of the most promising fields of quantum information processing. It is already quite mature in terms of algorithm development and the international availability of significantly advanced analogue quantum simulation experiments.”
“In computing history, classical analogue and digital computing co-existed for more than a half-century, with a gradual transition toward digital computing, and we anticipate the same thing will happen with the emergence of quantum simulation.”
“As a next step in the evolution of this technology, it is now necessary to discuss ‘practical quantum advantage,’ or the point at which quantum devices will solve practical problems that traditional supercomputers cannot solve.”
“Many of quantum computers’ most promising short-term applications fall under the umbrella of quantum simulation: modelling the quantum properties of microscopic particles that are directly relevant to understanding modern materials science, high-energy physics, and quantum chemistry.”
“Quantum simulation on fault-tolerant digital quantum computers with greater flexibility and precision should be possible in the future, but it can also be done today for specific models using special-purpose analogue quantum simulators. This is similar to the study of aerodynamics, which can be done in a wind tunnel or through simulations on a digital computer. Whereas aerodynamics frequently employs a smaller scale model to comprehend something large, analogue quantum simulators frequently employ a larger scale model to comprehend something even smaller.”
“Analog quantum simulators are now moving from providing qualitative demonstrations of physical phenomena to quantitative solutions for native problems. In the near term, the development of a variety of programmable quantum simulators that combine digital and analog techniques is particularly exciting. This has a lot of potential because it combines the best features of both sides by using native analogue operations to generate highly entangled states.”