Simulating large quantum circuits on a small quantum computer

TitleSimulating large quantum circuits on a small quantum computer
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsPeng, T, Harrow, A, Ozols, M, Wu, X
Date Published03/29/2019

Limited quantum memory is one of the most important constraints for near-term quantum devices. Understanding whether a small quantum computer can simulate a larger quantum system, or execute an algorithm requiring more qubits than available, is both of theoretical and practical importance. In this Letter, we introduce cluster parameters K and d of a quantum circuit. The tensor network of such a circuit can be decomposed into clusters of size at most d with at most K qubits of inter-cluster quantum communication. Our main result is a simulation scheme of any (K,d)-clustered quantum circuit on a d-qubit machine in time roughly 2O(K). An important application of our result is the simulation of clustered quantum systems---such as large molecules---that can be partitioned into multiple significantly smaller clusters with weak interactions among them. Another potential application is quantum optimization: we demonstrate numerically that variational quantum eigensolvers can still perform well when restricted to clustered circuits, thus making it feasible to study large quantum systems on small quantum devices.