Sergio Boixo

Experimental signature of programmable quantum annealing

TitleExperimental signature of programmable quantum annealing
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsS. Boixo, T. Albash, F. M. Spedalieri, N. Chancellor, and D. A. Lidar

Quantum annealing is a general strategy for solving difficult optimization problems with the aid of quantum adiabatic evolution. Both analytical and numerical evidence suggests that under idealized, closed system conditions, quantum annealing can outperform classical thermalization-based algorithms such as simulated annealing. Do engineered quantum annealing devices effectively perform classical thermalization when coupled to a decohering thermal environment? To address this we establish, using superconducting flux qubits with programmable spin-spin couplings, an experimental signature which is consistent with quantum annealing, and at the same time inconsistent with classical thermalization, in spite of a decoherence timescale which is orders of magnitude shorter than the adiabatic evolution time. This suggests that programmable quantum devices, scalable with current superconducting technology, implement quantum annealing with a surprising robustness against noise and imperfections.