(EurekaAlerts) A team of Virginia Tech chemistry and physics researchers have advanced quantum simulation by devising an algorithm that can more efficiently calculate the properties of molecules on a noisy quantum computer. Virginia Tech College of Science faculty members Ed Barnes, Sophia Economou, and Nick Mayhall recently published a paper in Nature Communications detailing the advancement.
Quantum computers are expected to be able to carry out certain kinds of calculations far more efficiently than the “classical” computers in use today. They are similar to classical computers, however, in that they run algorithms by applying sequences of logic gates — in this case, “quantum gates,” which together form quantum circuits — to bits of information. For today’s noisy quantum computers, the problem has been that so much noise would accumulate within a circuit that the computation would degrade and render any subsequent calculations inaccurate. Scientists have had difficulty designing circuits that are both shorter and more accurate.
The Virginia Tech team addressed this issue by developing a method that grows the circuit in an iterative way. “We start with a minimal circuit, then grow it as we add on logic gate after logic gate in short circuits until the computer finds the solution,” said Mayhall, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry.

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