#### Quantum Computing

# Noise Amplification Squeezes More Computational Accuracy From Today’s Quantum Processors

March 27, 2019 | Written by: Jay Gambetta and Abhinav Kandala

Categorized: Publications | Quantum Computing | Thomas J Watson Research Center

Share this post:

Conventional wisdom holds that two wrongs don’t make a right. However counter intuitive this may seem, many wrongs could be the key to improving the performance of noisy quantum computers today.

**The problem**

Computers that rely on the power of quantum mechanical phenomena to perform calculations are also extremely susceptible to “noise” from their environment – which leads to errors in the computation. Even at the extreme cold temperatures of a dilution refrigerator where the quantum processors operate, our physical computing elements, superconducting qubits, have coherence times on the order of a few hundred microseconds at best, which sets the timescales over which quantum information is lost. While a major challenge to advancing quantum computers today involves increasing these qubit coherence times, the end goal is to build a fully fault tolerant quantum computer capable of detecting and correcting errors. However, these architectures are likely several years away.

**A near-term solution**

In a new research paper, published in

“The error mitigation technique dubbed ‘zero-noise extrapolation’ is readily accessible for existing quantum computers since it doesn’t require any additional hardware modifications.”

**Longer computations**

Computations on noisy quantum hardware are limited by the competition between decoherence and circuit depth, a measure of the number of sequential operations performed on the processor. Increasing circuit depth can help create more complex quantum states, and in the context of chemistry simulation, this may allow for a better representation of the energy states of the molecules considered. However, increasing circuit depth on a noisy quantum computer typically implies increased errors from decoherence. However, with the technique developed in this work, our ability to mitigate the effect of decoherence enables us to access more complex and accurate computations that benefit from increased circuit depth.

**General-purpose technique**

Our method is fairly broad in its applicability and can be used to improve any quantum computation that relies on expectation values. For example, in this work, we use it to demonstrate improvements in the accuracy of quantum simulations initially considered in our 2017 * *

**The path ahead**

While our technique enabled computational accuracies that were otherwise inaccessible to the hardware, it is important to note that the improvements are not indefinite and are ultimately limited by the coherence properties of the processor. As we march towards systems with increasing

*Error mitigation extends the computational reach of a noisy quantum processor*

Abhinav Kandala, Kristan Temme, Antonio D. Corcoles, Antonio Mezzacapo, Jerry M. Chow, Jay M. Gambetta

doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-0980-2

**Jay Gambetta**

IBM Fellow and Vice President, Quantum Computing

**Abhinav Kandala**

Research Staff Member, Experimental Quantum Computing

### IBM Supports Q2Work Education Initiative

The need for a future workforce with a robust set of quantum computing skills drives our support for Q2Work, the National Science Foundation-funded initiative led by the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago to provide quantum education, programs, tools, and curricula to K-12 students.

### Quantum Conundrum: Clifford Group Investigation Unexpectedly Reveals New Quantum Advantage Proof

When we began our current line of investigation, the goal was to study the structural property of the Clifford group, describing a set of transformations that generate entanglement, play an important role in quantum computing error correction, and are used in (randomized) benchmarking. In a series of one-thing-leads-to-another findings, however, we ended up discovering a new mathematical proof of quantum advantage – the elusive threshold at which quantum computers outperform classical machines in certain use cases.

### IBM Roundtable: Building a Quantum Workforce Requires Interdisciplinary Education and the Promise of Real Jobs

The ability to harness quantum-mechanical phenomena such as superposition and entanglement to perform computation obviously poses a number of difficulties. Add in the need to make these systems perform meaningful work, and you’ve raised the stakes considerably. Creating a pipeline of talented, well-trained academics and professionals who can meet those challenges was the subject of IBM’s July 28 virtual roundtable, “How to Build a Quantum Workforce.” Watch the replay, here.